Building a successful diversity program doesn’t need to be overly complicated or costly. And reaching your goals doesn’t have to feel like climbing Mt. Everest. When you create a plan for diversity, whether you are starting a new program or enhancing an old one, there are a few simple and easy guidelines to follow which will place you on a path for success.

Build a diversity alliance. Find an alliance of partners who represent a wide array of diverse categories. Set out to intentionally identify suppliers who not only have diverse ownership, but real programs representing diverse candidates in the marketplace. There are many organizations who can help you meet your company’s diversity goals including specialists in learning differences, second chance programs, veterans, LGBTQ+, women in STEM, young professionals, moms at work and more! Build an alliance of diverse partners who can enhance what you are currently doing, assist with what you want to do and then set out to make your partners and your program successful.

Create business opportunities. Success for the alliance comes from providing real business opportunities. When we place a diversity supplier on a distribution list that already has a long group of suppliers and the potential for placements is short, making an impact on diversity is nearly impossible. However, one way to ensure your diversity partners have an opportunity to make hires is to consider tiering your distribution lists. Enable your diverse partners to receive requisitions first, have time to understand the requirements thoroughly, identify diverse candidates and have the opportunity to submit early in the process.

Direct manager contact.  Providing a head start for your alliance increases the chance your diverse candidates will be considered for an interview. You might also consider letting your alliance partners have direct contact with managers. Allowing the supplier to explain to the manager how/why a candidate meets the manager’s requirements will increase the chance for diversity in placements. Often, a diverse candidate match isn’t always immediately apparent, and open conversations help with the why.

Promote the alliance. One of the challenges for increasing diversity hires is making it known what you are trying to do and why it’s important — which means the hardest part of increasing diversity boils down to communication. Getting the word out to your hiring community and organization as a whole about who these suppliers are, what goals you’re looking to achieve and how the process will work to ensure the alliance not only provides diversity but also quality. One easy way to communicate your new alliance is by sponsoring spotlight calls to highlight each diverse company, the types of candidates they provide and host a Q&A session so that your partners become more widely known.

Another easy way is to use marketing materials. Create a simple PowerPoint presentation that explains who the partners in the alliance are, what types of candidates they recruit and why using veterans (for example) is important. Creating a document that can be easily shared helps continuously promote the alliance in between the spotlight calls. And talk about your alliance internally whenever possible. Whether it’s at monthly team meetings, manager intake calls, quarterly business reviews, the company all-hands call — have your story ready and tell it to whoever will listen. It’s hard to push the effort forward without having others on board to champion diversity with you.

Measure and mentor. Lastly, unless you know where you are compared to your goals, success of the program will always be an unknown. Start by running your numbers now as a benchmark, identifying what your percentages are and how they break down by category, so you have something to compare against as you move forward. Stay on pace toward your goals, and if you see the numbers falling, take time to review your lists, communicate your plan some more and talk to your alliance about the challenges they see. Remember that mentoring your alliance is critical because if they aren’t successful, your diversity program won’t be successful. If the alliance is performing well, then exceeding your goals will come easily.

Going forward. And as you continue to add diverse partners to your alliance and spread the word about who your partners are, what type of candidates they provide and why it’s important, then you will have created a successful diversity program. With more exposure to diversity, organizations become more innovative, inclusive and collaborative, which leads to greater candidate attraction and higher employee retention — which means your program is a success!