conversations Getting Personnel The Challenge: How do you go about creating the first diversity and inclusion strategic plan for the Department of Homeland Security, the third-largest and newest US federal government department? With 240,000 employees, not only is the DHS large, it includes long-established agencies such as the Coast Guard and newer agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration, all with their own policies, priorities, and cultures. When Nimesh Patel joined the DHS in 2011 as executive director for diversity and inclusion, the department had no cohesive strategy or oversight of diversity and inclusion, which sometimes resulted in significant challenges for senior leaders when briefing members of Congress about diversity efforts. “We couldn’t even clearly identify our successes, challenges, or the strategies to address the challenges,” said Patel, who recently left DHS to lead diversity and inclusion at WilmerHale, a large international law firm. The Strategy: Patel relied on his experience consulting with Fortune 200 companies regarding their diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as his relationship building, consensus forming, and negotiating skills, to create the department’s strategic plan. He established a task force including representatives from all of the major agencies to create a collaborative process, enable different perspectives, and gain buy-in from all key stakeholders.