Diversity, equity and inclusion core competencies: Get cross functional projects done (Part 5 of 5)

Latina woman writing on a poster board paper while 2 Black women offer ideas

Photo from WOCinTech chat, CC-BY

This is the last post in a weeklong series exploring DEI professional competencies. Again, I believe the five key competencies for DEI professionals are:

  1. be strategic
  2. translate academic research into action and measure the impact of initiatives
  3. meet people where they are at and help them move to be more inclusive 
  4. influence others
  5. get cross functional projects done. 

Yesterday’s post was about influencing others. This post will explore getting cross functional projects done. I’ll also share some other DEI career resources. 

Great ideas without action are totally meaningless. As a DEI leader you’ll be working across departments and functions to get stuff done. Strong project management skills and collaboration are key in making change to existing processes and developing new ways of doing things. Here’s two examples to illustrate this competency. 

One of my first projects at Mozilla was working with People Ops and a Tableau expert in IT to build a dashboard to track our diversity metrics, which was more difficult and time consuming than I first thought. When I started the project was off the rails, so I suggested we restart by introducing ourselves, what we thought we brought to the table and then developed a RASCI for the project. With these foundations in place we shifted us to be a very effective team. We completed the project and became friends. Having a dashboard for diversity metrics was important as leaders owned accountability goals and needed to know how they were doing.

Engineers started Mozilla’s first mentorship program. I joined the team and was the only non-technical person and marvelled at some of the skills and ways of thinking that the others brought. It was one of those wonderful experiences where we were more than the sum of our parts. We were a small group of people with different backgrounds, doing different jobs, at various job levels and we were able to stand up and support a mentorship program for about 100 people. I credit the leadership of Melissa O’Connor, Senior Manager of Data Operations. She often said “tell me what I’m missing here” to invite different options and ran the most efficient meetings I’ve ever attended in my life. 

Great ideas without action are totally meaningless. Turning thoughts into actions as a leader in DEI is a necessary art–to get things done you’ll need to effectively collaborate with people at different levels and in different functions. 

Additional resources on DEI careers

I was thrilled to be a guest on Andrea G. Tatum’s DEI Career Conversations. She also introduced me to Russell Reynold’s list of competencies of a Chief Diversity Officer

Aubrey Blanche’s post How can I get a job in D&I? starts by trying to talk the reader out of going into this line of work then gets into five key areas of expertise. 

Dr. Janice Gassam’s Dirty Diversity Podcast has an episode where she interviews Lambert Odeh, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Olo Inc. on How to Land a Career in DEI.