DEI as a Business Strategy, not HR programs

Corporate attempts to improve Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) are falling short, according to new report from Josh Bersin and Kathi Enderes, Ph.D (Josh Bersin Academy). Their report Elevating Equity: The Real Story of Diversity and Inclusion is questioning the traditional approaches to the business and social issues surrounding DEI and states: “roughly 80 % of companies are just going through the motions and not holding themselves accountable”. 

DEI as a Business Strategy 

According to the report, organizations tend to resort to legacy tactics of bias training, Diversity recruiting, and programs that sometimes backfire and contribute to more division than unity. The survey found that: 

  • 76 % of companies have no Diversity or Inclusion goals. 
  • 75 % of companies do not have DEI included in the company’s leadership development or overall learning and development curricula. 
  • 40 % of companies view diversity work as a way to mitigate legal, compliance or reputational risks, with HR in an enforcer role. 
  • 32 % of companies require some form of DEI training for employees; 34 % offer training to managers. 

The research discovered that DEI training, recruitment practices, employee resource groups and many other DEI interventions add value—but not as much as you may think, according to Josh Bersin and Kathi Enderes, Ph.D.  

“In fact, our biggest finding is very profound. The most powerful strategies to drive inclusion and diversity come from the business strategy, not HR programs. When the business has the right focus, the HR practices add value. When done in isolation … the practices have little or no long-lasting impact”, the report states. 

The report cites The Coca-Cola Co. as a cautionary example, as the company spent years addressing the issues of racial disparities in leadership and pay (driven by a class action lawsuit for almost $200 million in 2000) and made major progress pushing diversity, the report states. “But despite the commitment from the CEO, the company’s culture did not change, and today Coca-Cola is revisiting its entire 20-year effort to focus on inclusion and behavior change.” 

Follow this link to read the report in full length.