ASK DCA: Establishing an effective Diversity Council

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In this issue of ASK DCA we look at how you take your diversity and inclusion practice to the next level by establishing an effective diversity council.

Member Question:

We are looking at setting up a diversity council and are seeking guidance on the best approach to take.  With the involvement of the CEO and other senior executives we want to ensure the best use of their time for the best outcomes.  Should the council take an active role in implementing policy and new initiatives or simple have a monitoring role?

DCA Answer:

Diversity councils can be effective mechanisms to drive diversity and inclusion (‘D&I’) change in organisations. We often get queries about diversity councils as more organisations are looking to establish them. 

As a starting point, it’s important to have clearly defined objectives for the council. A key function would be to drive the organisation’s overall D&I strategy and to ensure it is closely aligned with the organisation’s business goals. It could also play a role in monitoring D&I strategy/program to ensure these are effective and improving organisational, team and individual performance and wellbeing.  

Choosing who should sit on the council is also key. It’s strongly recommended that the CEO or other very senior executive lead the council to give it authority and legitimacy. Council members should also reflect diversity in all its forms (e.g. age, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity etc.)

The following are key considerations when setting up a diversity council:

  • Establishing clear objectives and terms of reference
  • Selecting council members to reflect diversity and skill-set
  • Determining what should be on the council agenda

To read the full guide to setting up a diversity council including case studies on diversity councils, login to the members-only area of the DCA website.

DCA members can access the 'Ask DCA' service and submit brief enquiries about any aspect of diversity and inclusion practice.