On the Brink of a DEI Backslide

Amid several years of intense public discussion about the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at work, many organizations made loud commitments to supporting DEI in their companies.

Now, in the wake of several exhausting years of the pandemic and uncertain economic headwinds, many companies are on the brink of a serious backslide on DEI progress.

And they are doing so at the cost to their own business success.

Across the board, women and minority leaders are ready to leave their companies at significantly higher rates than men and non-minority peers. However, we found little connection between leaders who intend to leave and the opportunities they had for advancement. Instead, we discovered a strong association between intent to leave and a lack of trust in their organization.

There are several indicators that companies are putting less focus on DEI than they were a few years ago. While labor and economic challenges may have taken focus away from DEI, companies that have allowed their DEI efforts to languish are seeing a significant business impact. These companies are seeing weaker business performance, lower bench strength, lower engagement, less ability to meet customer needs, and more.

In our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report 2023—part of our Global Leadership Forecast series—we examined responses from 13,695 leaders and 1,827 human resource executives around the world about the state of their company’s leadership and DEI efforts.

The data show few positive indicators since we last published our Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020. Indeed, there are several areas that show reversals of progress. However, among these findings are clear opportunities for success and examples of how thriving companies have integrated DEI into the way they work for stronger overall business results.

It takes high-quality DEI practices to get diverse talent in the door, but high-quality leadership to make them want to stay.

A Note on Terminology in the Report


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