Pausing for equity

More and more, we’re asked if OKRs can be used to help address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations.

OKRs can help you work toward any desired state you’d like to move toward, and we highly encourage you to include questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your goal-setting processes.

It’s important to be mindful during the OKR development process. If you’re not, carelessness can actually lead toward practices that set us back. Sometimes, in the cyclical OKR process, there can be a level of urgency that causes teams to gloss over whether what’s being created benefits everyone in the organization. Urgency can lead to decreasing the amount of space given to include diverse viewpoints in our considerations.

That’s why we’re fans of a concept called The Equity Pause. We learned about it from the Creative Reaction Lab and it was developed by the 228 Accelerator as a part of the Equity Meets Design framework.

At this point during your OKR-setting process, take a pause. Ask yourself if you are making space for everyone’s voice, or if your direction and goals are exclusionary or perpetuate dominance or unconscious bias of one group or towards another.

Here are some OKR-specific questions you should ask of yourself — and your team — during an Equity Pause:

  • Have you heard from all stakeholders? Who is missing?
  • Have you drafted an Objective or Key Result in a way that reinforces something in your culture you need to change?
  • How could you add a Key Result or adjust your Objective to not only avoid the behavior, but correct it?
  • Are you doing the right thing? Does this have a benefit for all?

Let’s take the time needed to challenge our assumptions, give space and time to hearing all voices and push our organizations toward just and equitable practices.

Additional Resources & Further Reading