10 Proven Actions to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging by Charlotte F. Hughes

Over the last decade, and particularly the last two years, a new era of corporate responsibility has emerged. Americans are increasingly demanding that businesses prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). With 92% of Americans stating that it is important for companies to promote an economy that serves everyone, for the first time we’re seeing companies view equity as a business imperative to attract and retain top talent.

I co-founded Inclusive Leaders Group, a Black woman-owned strategic consulting and training firm specializing in DEI as a business strategy to support organizations develop their DEI strategy and their people.  The clients we collaborate with are making new commitments to drive racial equity as a business strategy rather than another HR or compliance matter. However, in the aftermath of public commitments in 2020 post-George Floyd, CEOs and business leaders now face a confounding question: What actions really work?

10 Proven Actions to Advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

To advise our clients, I and my consulting team use Grads of Life and Bain & Company’s evidence-based list of the strongest evidence-based DEI actions. Their 2021 report: Ten Proven Actions to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, provides companies with the roadmap they need to make informed decisions about their DEI practice and compete in an increasingly competitive talent marketplace.

We know that creating and executing a successful DEI strategy that achieves tangible outcomes like increased representation and feelings of inclusion and belonging is not simple or easy work. Despite decades of research and increased focus on DEI in recent years, progress at any significant scale remains limited. Even though DEI initiatives are receiving increased attention, we have yet to see that translate into tangible results. Only 18% of the top 1000 companies made internal commitments to improving DEI within their company in the six months after George Floyd’s murder. In addition, we see that only 20% of medium and large employers have DEI task forces, and just 10% have diversity managers.

So Why are Companies Having a Hard Time Driving Positive DEI Results?

Grads of Life and Bain & Company point out that although many companies are truly committed to improving DEI outcomes, understanding the complex body of evidence on what works remains elusive. Business leaders lack the time to parse through the literature, draw connections, and make data-driven decisions. We often hear clients ask for a straightforward blueprint of what has worked for other companies.

The research also revealed some surprising insights, most notably that half of the 10 actions are not yet mainstream in the private sector despite the strong research behind them. The five actions that deserve increased attention and investment are:

  1. Express C-suite commitment and formalize accountability
  2. Adopt a skills-first approach to talent acquisition
  3. Diversify talent pipelines through work-based experiences
  4. Provide family-sustaining wages and benefits
  5. Communicate skills-based career pathways

The paper explores the biggest hurdles to adopting these actions and provides employers with examples of successful implementation. The researchers also analyzed how the remaining 5 actions are currently being implemented by companies. Determined that though these 5 practices are quite common, many companies are not aware of important nuances needed to optimize these common actions for their DEI goals.  Read the Grads of Life and Bain & Company report.

We can help you learn more about these 10 strongest evidence-based DEI actions and what they can do for your organizational DEI strategy.

Let’s have a virtual coffee and/or connect on LinkedIn!

As CEO and Principal Consultant of Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC, Charlotte Hughes MS, CDP, SHRBP, CPLP brings a diverse background as an accomplished Workforce and Organizational Development and Diversity & Inclusion global thought leader and practitioner for major Fortune 100 companies and one of the largest health systems in the U.S.   Charlotte helps organizations develop their DEI strategy and provides DEI education for talent and organizational development. Schedule a discovery discussion with Charlotte about creating your DEI commitment statement and developing your DEI strategic plan. Contact her on Calendly or this Contact Form.


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