The Business Case for DEI: Why Organizations Fall Short

Sep 10, 2021

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Why Organizations Fall Short in DEI

The Business Case for DEI: Why Organizations Fall Short

It seems like there are new articles everyday announcing an organizations’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. You can see the statements on their websites. “We stand for….” or “Our commitment is to…”Many believe that creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace is the right thing to do. That’s the social justice motivation and it’s valid. It’s important to also say that most companies are also motivated by the research — “Studies have shown that diverse companies earn 2.3 times higher cash flow than companies with more monolithic workforces. Research has also shown that diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets than organizations that target little to no efforts into actively recruiting and retaining talent from under-represented groups.”

This is from an important article posted at by TNG Consulting. After stating this important business case for DEI, the author asks the all-important question, “why is it so hard to achieve DEI goals?”

The article suggests that most organizations fall into one of these three categories:

  1. they really don’t care about making DEI a serious focus for their business
  2. They lack the internal knowledge and/or resources to begin or
  3. their internal culture does not embrace DEI in any form. The latter is arguably the most problematic and often the reason why the business case for DEI initiatives falls short in most organizations.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer and even these categories don’t do full justice to a situation that is complex. There are so many factors that make DEI work difficult. In our work to help organizations through our Workshops Via Zoom and our e-learning courses, we hold at the forefront the challenge that this work will confront many of the organizations’ beliefs about itself. Are the leaders willing to look at the gap between their commitment and their execution of DEI goals?

Ultimately, this comes down to leaders having difficult conversations and listening. Do their employees feel valued and heard and do they have a sense of belonging? We teach ways for people to look at their own personal implicit biases and then to consider where the organizational structures have bias built-in. For example, in our Inclusive Hiring Practices, we look at where bias creeps into the process and offer concrete actions to counteract it. This is hard work. It requires an organization do a lot more than issue a statement. More than holding a once-a-year meeting. We salute all who embark on what is often called, the DEI Learning Journey.

The article lists five excellent ways to work towards achieving their goals:

  • Seek outside expertise to assist with organizational culture fixes.
  • Emphasize the importance of inclusion in action, not just words.
  • Establish realistic expectations. DEI work is a marathon race, not a sprint.
  • Obtain buy-in from senior leadership.

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