How to foster real diversity in your business with SMART goals


When making a diversity and inclusion strategy, the hardest part is getting started. Use SMART goals to get off on the right foot, and stay strong the whole way through.

Increasing diversity and inclusion is a goal that benefits every business – but you need to use SMART goals.

There are a lot of steps businesses need to take between deciding to support diversity and producing tangible results. Rushing into the process with big ideas and little knowledge of how to achieve them can lead to a lot of unnecessary frustration

That’s why we at Cockerham & Associates recommend you approach it differently – by focusing on real strategy shaped around long-term SMART goals. SMART goals should be critical to the strategy because they keep your diversity and inclusion strategy grounded and, most importantly, achievable. 

Let’s break down why your business needs SMART goals to create strong, lasting change. 

What are SMART goals?

Originally coined in a 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran and fully-defined by Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept, the SMART criteria has become a go-to format for business leaders to communicate and pursue their goals. While the acronym itself has been adapted by different scholars and businesses to fit their needs, the most common definition of SMART is:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Just looking at the acronym, SMART helps break down a goal into five critical factors for success. Oftentimes, unprepared businesses will have to respond to problems as they arise. Making a goal a SMART goal answers those questions before the process begins. It’s the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success. 

So how do SMART goals apply to diversity and inclusion, and why are they so important?

Why your diversity and inclusion strategy needs SMART goals

Put simply, it’s very easy to get lost in big ideas and unrealistic promises when talking about diversity and inclusion. This is a topic that a lot of people are very passionate about, and many feel is moving forward at far too slow a pace. However, change requires a solid foundation, and that’s what SMART goals provide. 

There’s just no way a business can completely change its work culture overnight, but they can set a series of long-term goals that turn into permanent improvements. That’s why every goal we help you set follows the SMART criteria; it’s what has been proven time and time again to get things done. 

Making a SMART diversity and inclusion strategy

Let’s put the acronym in action and see what a SMART diversity and inclusion strategy really looks like. 

Specific: A specific goal isn’t just to increase diversity and inclusion, it narrows down exactly what the business needs to improve on right now. That might be making the workplace more accessible to women, or addressing a series of complaints about casual racism in the office.

Measurable: A business needs to know when it’s succeeded, otherwise it might end up wasting time and capital. However, measuring diversity and inclusion can be complicated. Try to avoid metrics like quotas for underrepresented groups. Instead, try measuring employee opinion, overall performance, or using any of Cockerham & Associates innovative diversity technology

Achievable:. Focus on the goals your business can realistically achieve and, one step at a time, the bigger goals will begin to come into focus. 

Relevant: This is a great opportunity to take employee feedback into account when goal-setting. It can be easy at the top to get stuck in an echo chamber, but successful goals need to address the desires of the entire organization. Make sure, before moving forward, that the goal is relevant to everyone’s success.

Time-based: Changing a work culture is a long process; it helps to break it down into a series of deadlines. These can range in time depending on the scale of the change being enacted, but should always realistically match up with what the business is trying to achieve. 

Bring it all together

Making your diversity and inclusion strategy SMART is going to take serious thought and effort – that’s why Cockerham & Associates offers a range of consulting and technology services to help businesses develop and implement successful and SMART strategies. SMART is how we build the blueprint to get our clients to the next big idea.

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