Keeping and Improving It Can Be the Breakthrough You’ve Been Looking For
Beyond the partisan noise objecting to “woke” culture, serious conversations are being held about the benefits, successes, and value of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a business goal. Implementing a DEI strategy takes time and attention from across the company if it is to be successful. Yet the results are far from immediate. Inevitably, some companies are questioning its value.
We argue that while it’s always a good idea to reassess business strategies on a regular basis, the implication that DEI is somehow optional fails to grasp the reality that the business case for DEI has already been made. There is enough data to prove that, with all its challenges, DEI is good for companies.
The only real question should be whether a business has already adopted and implemented a DEI approach – or when they will.
DEI is Here to Stay
The concept of DEI may have detractors, but the factors in its favor are too important to be ignored. Businesses need to attract good talent, and a 2020 survey by Glassdoor determined that 76 percent of job seekers and employees believe that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering new job opportunities. Similarly, sustainability is a priority for 90 percent of executives, and this goal requires a business to evaluate itself within the context of its community and, to some degree, include the community in its business sustainability goals.
Most significantly, in our view, multiple studies have now tested and proven that businesses with diversity in their ranks from the boardroom on down perform better across a variety of metrics.
5 Reasons DEI Strategies Fail
When DEI ‘doesn’t work,’ look in the mirror. It is typically for one of five specific reasons:
1. Check the Box DEI is characterized by a splashy webpage with a bold statement, including Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) language in recruitment postings, and other nominal efforts. Without substance to bolster these statements, companies are unlikely to see benefits. Measurable success is created with intention, commitment, KPIs, and a clear message from the top about DEI’s importance to the company.
2. Siloed DEI Efforts relegate DEI to each department rather than integrating it into the overall business strategy. This dilutes momentum and leaves critical opportunities untapped. The fix is cross-departmental collaboration. DEI is no one department’s job. To succeed, people across the company have to work together.
3. Have-It-Your-Way DEI is characterized by a lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and milestones. These businesses don’t actually have a DEI strategy; they have an aspiration. DEI requires systemic, progressive efforts, which can’t be undertaken without structure, support, goal tracking, and milestones.
4. Missing DEI Champions. These are the people across the business who are pulling for diverse opportunity at their company. From implementers up to the C-suite, this group coordinates, monitors, and documents DEI efforts. Communications and PR teams support by highlighting accomplishments inside the company as well as externally. Every successful company has these champions.
5. Untold DEI Stories. Telling the Story to stakeholders is the final, critical component that often is missing from DEI strategies. Without a report to bring the substance and detail of DEI efforts to life, companies often fail to qualify, engage, and inspire the communities where they may be actually making progress! Publishing statistics and data isn’t enough to say you “shared” your results. As any great salesperson knows: “Numbers smell. Stories sell.” Outside the board of directors, all the other stakeholders will only understand the story in words and pictures – the ways most people communicate.
Community is Key
Experience now tells us that a successful DEI strategy is always implemented across internal operations and the most successful ones engage the surrounding community as well.
The commitment to including the community can manifest at multiple layers of a DEI strategy. From implementing a local hiring policy to increase employee diversity, to setting supply chain goals that include local business, companies can make DEI an essential component of their overall business strategy. Companies who are serious about DEI look locally first for their critical resources and partnerships – providing immediate economic benefit to communities.
Additionally, research shows that by expanding the scope and depth of a DEI strategy, businesses discover that the benefits are not just specific to their DEI goals, but also tend to have surprising influence on the overall health of the business. An integrated strategy that includes community, real goals and milestones, and regular reporting, and that tells authentic stories of progress and accomplishments, produces demonstrable results.
Don’t Throw the (DEI) Baby Out with the Bathwater. Get Help.
If you struggle with developing this strategic approach, Laisar can partner with your business to achieve success. We know the stories of success. We see our clients uncovering all the areas where they have made real progress over the years, but they didn’t know how to talk about it in ways that both touted achievements and gave encouragement to stakeholders even through difficulties and challenges.
Let us help you uncover and tell the stories of your DEI journey. Strategic guidance to keep your program and improve upon it might be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for. On the one hand, you might be doing better than you think. On the other, you’ll get a solid roadmap to where you want to go.
Contact Laisar Management Group today to learn more about how our expertise can help.
About Florence Amate
Florence Amate is the Founder and President of Laisar Management Group. A management consulting company based in Silver Spring, Maryland, that is helping organizations rethink the role Supplier Diversity and Sustainability plays in their overall business strategy. Organizations in every industry have relied on Florence and her team to shape their community engagement and sustainability strategies.
Florence’s belief that companies are stronger when they take the time to understand their common interest within the communities, they choose to operate has been evident in the projects she has worked on over the last 12 years. Since 2011, she has successfully developed and managed economic and workforce inclusion solutions utilizing various proprietary business and data analytics applications. Organizations have embraced how internal and external data can be used to improve their bottom line, tell their story and build stronger and more vibrant communities.
Laisar provides supplier diversity, sustainability services and solutions. Laisar’s innovative, and integrated solutions for economic inclusion and workforce utilization, shapes community engagement and overall corporate strategies. We work with clients to develop and execute programs that bring socio-economic benefits to the communities where they live, work and play.
By Florence Amate published on Medium on October 20, 2023, 5mn read.
Photos: iStock Images.