Step 2 – develop a plan

Having purpose for diversity and inclusion (D&I) on its own does not automatically ensure benefits for your firm. Purpose needs to be followed by good and robust actions.

2.1 Goals

What are D&I goals?

Setting D&I goals means determining the outcomes that your firm expects to see by improving D&I over a certain timeframe.

Why are goals important?

Setting goals will help:

  • keep your efforts focused and reinforce communications about your D&I purpose
  • aid prioritisation decisions where D&I activities are not aligned to your goals
  • ensure a joined-up approach – achieved by being clear on long-term strategic goals for the whole organisation and specific shorter-term goals for different areas

Actions for determining your D&I goals

Make sure your goals are aligned to your rationale for D&I and driven by what your engagement and data has told you.

Be ambitious but realistic when establishing your goals. Take into account the firm’s current position, capabilities, resources, and other business priorities.

Using indicators

As in other parts of the business, indicators are needed to monitor progress against goals, and to learn and improve.

Ideally, there should be a combination of quantitative and qualitative indicators. Some examples include:

Whatever indicators you choose, make sure you have baseline data to measure change against.

Be realistic about the timeframe over which you would expect to see sustained change. Significant changes in workforce demographics may take years, but the diversity of applicants may improve straight after a change in how recruitment is done.

Indicators should be used primarily to learn, adapt and improve the likelihood of success.

Setting targets

Setting targets (an expectation of a certain level of progress against an indicator) always generates debate, especially when focused on achieving a certain level of representation.

Targets are often conflated with quotas. Targets are voluntary and aspirational, whereas quotas are usually externally mandated, incur sanctions if missed and run the risk of reverse discrimination.

The benefits of using voluntary, aspirational targets are:

  • they make the desired scale of change clear, focusing minds and efforts
  • they reset the default of what the firm expects. There is an implicit bias towards the status quo. Targets provide a clear signal that the firm is looking for something different and help overcome any perceived risks of breaking the mould
  • once there is greater diversity in a role, expectations change and stereotypes break down. It will become easier for other people from non-traditional backgrounds to succeed in future without targets being needed

Target setting can lead to a step-change. For many years, there was slow progress in improving representation on women on boards in FTSE 100 companies until minimum targets were set by the Davies review to indicate the scale of change expected.

However, there are pitfalls in setting targets too. For example:

  • setting targets at unrealistic levels that are later abandoned or revised downwards
  • setting targets and not having a plan for action to achieve them
  • failing to explain why targets have been set and the role they are intended to play, which can lead to people making assumptions and undermining the achievements of those who succeed

If you set targets:

2.2 Actions

What is action planning?

Action planning is determining what activity needs to happen across the organisation for you to achieve your goals.

Why is action planning important?

An action plan:

  • helps get things done
  • engages colleagues across the firm in delivery
  • is a useful communication tool to share what is being done
  • tracks progress and reveals issues and risks to delivery so they can be managed

Creating an action plan


Download a template action plan (Word 782 KB)

All action plans should contain:

  • a description of the goals and the reason behind each goal
  • indicators to monitor progress, with targets (if set)
  • a description of the actions that will be taken to achieve the goals
  • who is responsible for ensuring the action happens and who is involved in delivery
  • timescales: when is the action starting and ending and will it be repeated?
  • a progress status for each action: for example, red = not started, amber = started but not complete, green = complete and embedded in business as usual

Types of action you will need to consider

To have impact on D&I, you will need to consider action across the following four areas.

1. Build D&I capabilities

This means making sure people have the capabilities needed to work in an inclusive way with people who are different from them.

Key traits and competences include cultural intelligence, a learning mindset, flexibility, collaboration, empathy, curiosity and humility.

2. De-bias processes, policies, and practices

If you have gathered and analysed diversity data on your everyday processes, you will have an idea of where differential outcomes are likely to emerge.

Delta Alpha Psi’s Opportunity Cycle infographic also shows how a lack of inclusion can lead to cumulative disadvantage for some, whilst those who ‘fit’ from the outset are likely to accumulate advantages.

3. Positive action, adjustments, and tailored support

Consider whether and when it's necessary to do things differently for some groups or to level the playing field.

4. Inclusive culture and reputation

This means ensuring the working environment, behaviours and day-to-day interactions reflect D&I values.

Actions that have worked elsewhere

Case studies of what has worked in similar firms can be helpful when planning your own action. We're sharing case studies and tips from other firms on different aspects of D&I.

When using case studies for ideas and learning, avoid the temptation to simply copy what you see others doing on D&I. Ask:

  • what evidence of change is there following the action?
  • was the other firm facing similar problems to yours?
  • were there reasons why it succeeded that do not apply in your firm’s case?
  • would the approach need to be adapted or additional actions taken before implementing in your firm?
Further resources

This report provides a review of the evidence of what works on D&I, including effectiveness of diversity training, positive action and removing bias from recruitment and selection:

This research identifies the six signature traits needed for leaders to thrive in a diverse world:

Guidance for firms on contextualised and blind recruitment, positive action, reasonable adjustments, support for transgender staff, support for women during menopause, and tips on being an active bystander:

2.3 Resources

What are resources?

Resources are the time, money, skills and expertise needed to implement actions.

Why are resources important?

Without committing the required resources, D&I will not be progressed in your firm.

Actions for resourcing

2.4. Checkpoint

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you established your D&I goals? Do these relate to your D&I purpose (are they based on your specific rationale, stakeholder engagement and data)?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you considered the need for action, across the following four areas:

  • building D&I capabilities?
  • de-biasing policies, processes and practices?
  • positive action, adjustments and tailored support?
  • inclusive culture and reputation?

Checkbox Checkpoint Are you clear on how the actions you have planned will help you achieve your goals? Do you have a clear causal pathway?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you got indicators to measure progress against your goals to help you learn and improve?

Checkbox Checkpoint Would setting targets help achieve any of your goals? If you have set targets, have you planned action to achieve them and have you communicated why they are necessary?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you secured sufficient resources to deliver your actions in the specified timeframe?

Checkbox Checkpoint Have you involved key stakeholders in planning your actions and do others know what is expected of them?

Checkbox Checkpoint Do people have time and capacity to deliver on the plan? Are they properly supported and rewarded to deliver on it?

Checkbox Checkpoint Do you need to employ someone in a D&I role? If you do employ someone, are they in a strategic enough role to have influence?

Download the checklist (PDF 135 KB)

We're continually developing the framework to better suit your needs. Let us know how we can make it work even better for you.
Ornate curved staircase leading to Law Society Library in 113 Chancery Lane: stained glass window and gold-framed portraits with central marble pillar
Ornate curved staircase leading to Law Society Library in 113 Chancery Lane: stained glass window and gold-framed portraits with central marble pillar