University of Wisconsin–Madison

Strategic Planning and Visioning

Strategic Planning Considerations

Equity, diversity, inclusion and employee well-being should be embedded in every organization’s strategic plan. Dedicating the time, energy and effort needed to identify a vision, goals, scale, scope, timeline and process for what you hope to achieve will help develop a strong foundation for structures, processes and clear action steps needed for transformational and sustainable organizational and cultural change. Consider the following when developing and implementing a vision and strategic plan for your organization.

  • Assess needs and readiness
    Review your organization’s capacity for data collection, assessment and evaluation. Collecting and analyzing data is critical to understanding the overall needs of the organization and if the organization is ready to make significant policy, system and environment (PSE)-level changes. Once data is collected and there is a high level of readiness and support for this work, begin identifying key growth opportunities to guide your planning process.
  • Process
    Create a clear, well-organized, substantive, and flexible planning process, including who and/or what needs to be involved, how goals will be identified and accomplished, an estimated timeline of the process/plan, etc.
  • Tools and resources
    Identify and advocate for the tools and resources (human, financial, and technical) that may be needed to implement plans.
  • Decision making
    Determine how decisions will be made modeling inclusive and equitable approaches.
  • Communications
    Determine how planning, process changes, decisions, and implementation will be communicated to appropriate stakeholders and constituents who will be impacted by the plans.
  • Feedback
    Ensure that there are ongoing feedback opportunities for partners, stakeholders, and constituents.
  • Evaluation and impact
    Continuous evaluation and assessment of your strategic plan and individual goals within the plan will be critical in measuring and understanding impact. Consider what and how you will assess for impact.
  • Accountability
    Consider how the organization will hold itself accountable to the stated vision and goals of the plan. What changes are actually being made and how? How might you be tracking progress and subsequently communicating progress reports to partners, stakeholders, and constituents?

Organizational structures

When developing overarching goals and priorities for equity, diversity, inclusion, and employee well-being, it requires significant support, infrastructure, and intentionality—at all levels of the organization.

Accountability and shared responsibility are core guiding principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and employee well-being efforts. All levels of the organization—formal leaders, management and individual employees—must support, model, and hold each other accountable to values, strategies and principles that promote diversity, equity, inclusion and employee well-being. Building and sustaining organizational structures that support this work will be critical to enacting real institutional change.

Leadership structures

The development and engagement of a leadership structure that has the resources and support to communicate a vision and has the authority and influence to engage in transformational change is critical to the success of equity, inclusion, and employee-well-being strategies. Strategic planning requires multiple levels of leadership in order to produce intentional, tangible and meaningful outcomes. In addition to a clear commitment from formal leaders (i.e., vice chancellors, deans, directors) within the organization, organizations should allocate appropriate resources and structure their organization in a way that can fully and meaningfully sustain this work. Organizational structure, positions and roles dedicated to this work can and will likely look different depending on context. The following are strategies to consider to create an organizational structure that can lead to sustainable outcomes:

  • Appoint or hire a full-time Director/Associate Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Well-being, reporting directly to the vice chancellor, dean or director of the division.
  • Under the leadership of the Director/Associate Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Well-being, develop and sustain a full-time team dedicated to this work, who can lead, facilitate, and implement organizational initiatives. Positions to consider including:
    • Position dedicated to assessment, analytics, and action planning
    • Position dedicated to education, learning, and capacity building
    • Position dedicated to employee support and referrals, well-being, and healing
  • Learn more about this job group by reviewing the Standard Job Description Library.

Committee and support structures

Many departments or units within a larger school, college, or division have created local committees to address employee issues related to equity, diversity, inclusion and well-being. Many committees have been developed to provide space for a group of people within a division to build a coalition within the division and take the lead on developing and implementing policy, system, and environment-level changes in partnership with programs and initiatives to address issues and concerns in this space. Ideally, these committees are representative of the division and have power to make decisions, hold the division accountable, and ultimately influence change at the local level.

Developing a committee charter

Once a committee is established, the committee should develop a charter that documents the committee’s shared purpose, current membership, roles, responsibilities, and expectations of individual members and the group as they work toward transformational change. Typically a committee charter is officially finalized by vote of the committee and is approved and/or signed off by an executive sponsor.

Committee Charter Template

Committee member onboarding

Equity, diversity, inclusion and well-being committees often are voluntary and rotate members due to capacity and to promote shared responsibility and accountability to this work. To continue to ensure the success of a committee and of new members joining the committee, consider the following to onboard and seamlessly transition new members.

  • Provide an orientation or introductory meeting | An orientation or an introductory meeting will provide an opportunity for new committee members to meet current and/or outgoing committee members and to review committee member roles, responsibilities, and expectations. This is typically facilitated by the committee chair/co-chairs and the division director. This meeting allows all committee members (incoming and current) to become acquainted with one another and holds space for questions and networking.

New committee members should have a clear understanding of the mission, the historical and current work of the committee, and how they can individually contribute to the work of the committee. This meeting should allow new and current members to meet, discuss what is going well, review key challenges and issues, and provide time to answer initial questions and clarify points of confusion or concern.

  • Pair new members with a peer mentor or partner | If there is capacity and a need to provide additional support or mentorship to new members, developing a peer mentor or partner program for new members can be helpful. A peer mentor or partner can supplement the orientation process and can assist with accelerating the learning and transition time of new members.

A peer mentor/partner pair should plan on meeting or connecting regularly to maintain an open line of communication to address ongoing questions, concerns and needs.

  • Provide a thorough overview of committee history, information and documentation | New committee members should have an understanding of the committee’s history, current purpose and work, and the scope of the committee. Some core components to consider including in this overview include:
  • Committee information (current and previous committee charters, committee roster and contact information, overview of previous and current initiatives and strategic plans, decision-making process, budget if applicable)
  • Committee member information (member roles, responsibilities, expectations, current meeting schedule and meeting invitations)
  • Committee meeting materials (previous and current meeting agendas and minutes, how to access meeting materials, how to contact committee co-chairs and members)
  • Share information with the organization every time there is a transition in committee members | Once new committee members are finalized and are onboarded to the committee, it is important for the organization to be aware of who is currently serving on the organization’s Equity, Inclusion and Well-being committee. A formal announcement should be shared with the entire division to welcome new committee members and to inform all employees of who is representing the organization on the committee. All committee members should be considered points of contact for the organization on issues, concerns, and requests related to equity, inclusion and employee well-being.

Committee member development

In addition to onboarding, it will also be important to explore capacity-building needs of new and current committee members. Self-awareness and ongoing learning are critical to transformational and institutional change. Consider developing a learning plan that helps build and grow the current membership and includes the following:

  • Clear and concrete learning goals and objectives that are measurable. Learning goals and objectives should be reviewed regularly to discuss how to meet those goals and objectives and to ensure that  they are ultimately being met. Individual learning goals and objectives should align and support organizational priorities and goals around equity, inclusion, and employee well-being.
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for professional development and learning that accounts for diverse entry points into equity, inclusion, and well-being conversations and learning. Engage with committee members to learn more about their learning needs and the areas where they would like to improve to ensure that learning opportunities align.

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