Driving Better Behaviors, Not Just Awareness, Is Crucial to the Future of DEI

Achieving DEI success is no small feat. It requires a sustained commitment at every level of leadership, and a willingness to integrate DEI into the fabric of how the organization operates, rather than as separate initiatives.

In this year’s research, we saw several best practices that are consistent across organizations that are leading in DEI. Here are five key practices that help companies move the needle:


DEI is a clear priority, backed by high-quality DEI practices.

Without support for DEI among top executives, there’s little chance of progress. But that support must be more than lip service; it has to be accompanied by putting quality DEI practices into place that integrate inclusion into the organization’s day-to-day operations and talent management systems.


Leaders have strong interpersonal skills, including empathy.

Inclusion and equity come to life through leadership behaviors. Diverse talent is unlikely to stay if their leaders do not have the interpersonal skills to make them feel like they belong, are valued, and have a future at the organization.


Succession planning involves proactively recruiting high-potential talent from diverse backgrounds.

Building a strong leadership pipeline requires an organization to think more broadly in defining leadership potential, and thoughtfully plan to include a range of skillsets, mindsets, and perspectives into its high-potential pools.


Senior leaders build trust with employees.

Employees who have traditionally been overlooked and underrepresented in leadership may naturally be more skeptical about senior leaders’ commitments to DEI success. It’s crucial that senior leaders focus on following through on their promises, practicing transparency, and building trust as part of the way they do business, not just in relation to DEI matters.


Coaching for growth is crucial.

Managers must provide opportunities for team members’ growth and development. In an effort to boost opportunities for underrepresented groups, many organizations make the mistake of putting people in roles for which they are not prepared, without enough support to ensure success. But organizations that succeed with DEI make a conscious effort to develop coaching capabilities across their organization to ensure people get the feedback and coaching they need to grow into new opportunities.

Our data make it clear that investing in DEI delivers stronger business results, both financially and as they reduce risk in their leadership pipeline.

How companies approach DEI is a signal not only of their commitment, but in how they operate on a daily basis to enable talent from all backgrounds to perform at their best. Companies need to be thinking about the overall culture of trust they are building, and how inclusion is an integrated—not separate—part of that strategy.

Inclusion Doesn’t Require an Office


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