18 ways HR can become more strategic with DE&I

As the race to attract and retain top talent continues, organisations must craft truly inclusive employee value propositions, making HR’s role ever more critical. McKinsey’s 7S Model is a useful tool to help understand how HR can become more strategic with DE&I.

This model, which can be envisaged as a map with ‘shared values’ at its heart, with strategy, structure, systems, skills, staff and style orbiting this central tenet – all interlinked – depicts how DE&I and HR can collaborate to great success.

These elements, shown below, impact one another and are all equally important when implementing change:

Hard Ss


Getting strategy right allows you to plan effectively to maintain your competitive advantage:

1. Carry out competitor and industry benchmarking so you know what best in class looks like and build DE&I into your EVP and ESG policies, regulations and practices.

2. Remain tuned in to non-policy trends, such as those in the consumer market and areas of social activism. Remember, employees and potential employees will be continually assessing your values and culture.

3. Stay tuned in to the wider business plan while keeping in mind how HR and DE&I can contribute to the latter. Start with business strategy, not with DE&I, to understand the broader picture.



This is the organisational chart for positioning DE&I

4. Cross-team connectivity and alignment between HR, talent acquisition and learning and development is important. Make sure there are regular connections between DE&I and HR.

5. DE&I operations committees and working groups need to include the right senior stakeholders within them and with the wider organisation. This gives DE&I some authority and avoids it being siloed.

6. Create governance, decision-making and accountability structures that include DE&I and HR.


7. Carry out DE&I data collection, tracking, analysis and reporting to drill down into issues such as psychological safety and belonging, as well as diversity per se. Ensure data is aggregated across different groups to find out how communities respond to the same question.

8. Consider using HR technology to obtain data, but be aware that technology may lack the capability to capture the information that is needed. Work backwards from your ‘hot spots’ and understand what you wish to achieve, choosing the software to complement this.

9. Agree goals and KPIs and keep these in mind when deciding how best to carry out measurements.

Soft Ss


Your organisation needs the right skills to drive a successful change agenda

10. Carry out inclusive leadership training to ensure that senior stakeholders offer the right levels of support and are able to elicit relevant knowledge from teams.

11. Run bias training and events to understand where bias tends to exist, for example, when hiring and promoting people.

12. Ensure training is aligned to legal topics such as positive action so you can, for example, legally target certain groups.


How do you position DE&I in terms of staffing?

13. When it comes to employee lifecycle decisions, have structures in place for attracting, retaining and promoting talent.

14. Consider what ERG structures you have and how you support your ERG colleagues.

15. Connect with resourcing partners to operationalise staff matters.


Leadership, style, attitudes and behaviours – the unwritten expectations

16. Consider: what is your senior leaders’ psychological connectivity to the topic of DE&I? There may be many different points of view and leaders need to feel psychologically safe to have difficult conversations and add their weight to the topic.

17. The everyday behaviours of managers need to align with the values projected to the outside world.

18. There needs to be an alignment between business ethic and wellbeing. These inclusive agendas need to be considered together and in conjunction with things such as flexible working, rewards and benefits and motivation.

HR must work with a wide range of diverse stakeholders to shape DE&I and the organisation’s vision and by understanding the interactions. Using the right tools and keeping the wider business picture in mind is imperative for success.

Watch FAIRER Consulting’s recent webinar, which explains how HR can become more strategic with DE&I.