How HR Can Help Business Leaders Take Greater Ownership for Driving DEI Outcomes

Gartner Report: 2023 HR Leaders Priority No. 1: Leader and manager effectiveness

To help HR leaders better manage and lead during these times, Gartner conducted an annual HR survey of more than 800 HR leaders and identified the top 5 priorities for HR in 2023. Top of the list is leader and manager effectiveness. HR leaders will also prioritize change management, employee experience, recruiting and future of work, all factors in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy execution and outcomes.

Priority No. 1: Leader and manager effectiveness: This is a priority for 60% of HR leaders, and 24% say their leadership development approach does not prepare leaders for the future of workAs organizations and society evolve, so do the expectations for what leaders are responsible for, making their roles increasingly complex. Today’s work environment requires leaders to be more authentic, empathetic, and adaptive. These three imperatives represent a new call for leadership: “human” leadership. Even though HR leaders try to build commitment, courage and confidence in leaders to help them answer the call, human leaders remain few and far between. Leaders do need commitment, courage, and confidence to be effective human leaders; however, HR’s typical approaches do not address the barriers that are holding leaders back. These obstacles include their own (very human) emotions of doubt, fear, and uncertainty.

In a separate survey of 181 DEI leaders conducted between September and October 2022 Gartner polled DEI leaders on their proficiency, effectiveness and experiences leading the DEI function. Business Leaders Failing to Take Ownership for Driving DEI Outcomes is the Top Challenge.

How HR Can Help Business Leaders Take Greater Ownership for Driving DEI Outcomes

The dual top priorities of (1) leader and manager effectiveness, and (2) business leaders failing to take ownership for driving DEI outcomes provide Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) and their teams both a challenge and an opportunity to take committed action. Here are four actions HR leaders can take:

CHRO’s Can Educate Their HR Teams and Business Leaders on DEI Maturity Levels

This four-level maturity model describes the evolution of diversity, equity, and inclusion and what companies should do to move from a compliance emphasis to a strategic focus in order to create a truly inclusive culture. This DEI maturity model shows that the most effective way to achieve significant gains is through leadership ownership, strategic measurement, and a culture of accountability for inclusion that is driven from top to bottom. Inclusive Leaders Group’s client relationship approach uses this DEI Maturity Model to advise clients “where they are now” and ”where they want to be” through their DEI strategic plan. The development of a DEI strategic plan aligned with the overall business goals is the transition between a Programmatic DEI maturity level where HR & DEI have the leadership responsibilities and a Leader-Led Strategic maturity level where business leaders throughout the organizations “own” DEI execution and outcomes.

HR Teams Can Become DEI Role Models For Business Leaders

When a CHRO and their team are considering initiating a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) strategy to enhance the employee experience and workplace culture, the entire HR and Talent Management leadership engagement is required, not only at the beginning but throughout every step of the DEIB journey.

Most HR team members want to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to DEIB as role models and ambassadors to their business leaders and managers but struggle with articulating that aspiration into day-to-day leadership actions. Inclusive Leaders Group’s The DEIB Accelerator is targeted for CHROs, Vice Presidents of HR, Heads of Talent Management, and their direct reports. This course aligns the strategic direction of the DEIB initiative, with the implementation of committed behaviors and actions from the entire HR/Talent Management team.

At the end of DEIB Accelerator Course, HR team members will be able to:


Learn more about DEIB Accelerator for HR.

Build a Sustainable DEI Strategic Plan

The Gartner survey revealed 70% of leaders agree senior leaders are the most critical stakeholders in an organization’s DEI strategy. Yet, many HR and DEI leaders report having to continuously coach business leaders on why DEI matters to the organization, how it aligns with enterprise goals or why it is critical for both near- and long-term success. To build a sustainable DEI strategic plan, DEI leaders must leverage key voices across the organization and gather evidence-based insights to better shape and implement their DEI strategy. This includes uncovering drivers of exclusion across diverse and underrepresented talent and anticipating unique scenarios across business functions.

Design a Scalable Governance Model

To succeed long-term, DEI efforts must be supported by a combination of policies, systems, and structures — also known as a governance model — guided by key functions such as Executive DEI Councils or Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). HR and DEI leaders must then ensure that each governance model has a clearly defined mission and structure, including roles and responsibilities mapped to workflows and decision-makers to reduce bottlenecks in the progression of DEI efforts.

Create an Inclusive Leadership Culture

Gartner research shows organizations that measure DEI, create accountability, and embed inclusion into talent decisions and processes report up to 20% more organizational inclusion compared to their peers without those approaches. Companies increasingly rely on diverse, multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers. But simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires developing inclusive leaders — leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued, and have a sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired. Research shows that inclusive leaders excel in particular areas. They bring awareness and clarity to problem areas, they practice courageous accountability to help resolve those problems, they empower others, and they foster innovative collaboration to unlock the unique contributions of each person in a group.

Interested in learning more about How HR Can Help Business Leaders Take Greater Ownership for Driving DEI Outcomes, let’s have a discovery discussion so I can learn more about your organization’s HR and DEI challenges involving leader and manager effectiveness!

Book a call and let’s have a virtual chat

Additional resources for HR leaders include:

  • Download the FREE E-book: The CHRO’s Guide to Advancing Workplace DEIBA Human Resource Leader’s Guide to Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging in the Workplace. DOWNLOAD HERE
  • Join the Inclusive Leaders Group community for regular updates and DEI best practices tips. SIGN UP HERE

Inclusive Leaders Group, LLC: A Strategic Consulting Firm Specializing in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) as a Business Strategy.

At Inclusive Leaders Group, we help leaders create safe, inclusive spaces that elevate employee engagement and performance to improve the business results and the communities they serve. Our clients rank among the top five markets with 98% action plan completion using our proven process to enhance and sustain results.

Inclusive Leaders Groups’ diverse SMEs will guide you through the development of progressive, evidence-based, business-driven DEI strategies to retain the best talent and increase employee engagement by 30% and overall satisfaction by 10% in one year.

ILG is a Certified Woman-Owned & Minority-Owned Business. Don’t go it alone with your DEI strategy. Go with the experts. VISIT US

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 several major Fortune 100 companies and one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Charlotte delivers more than 60 speeches and facilitates roughly the same number of training workshops each year.

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