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Headwind for DEI leaders

Survey shows business leaders don’t pay enough attention to diversity

DEI managers struggle in headwind. To succeed, they need to strengthen their role’s impact. A new survey shows that 51% of them say their top challenge is business leaders failing to take ownership for driving diversity, equity and inclusion. Other challenges are limited power, ineffective coordination of DEI efforts across business units, limited DEI staff and employee resistance to DEI change efforts.

The survey of 181 DEI leaders by marketing and research firm Gartner polled DEI leaders on their proficiency, effectiveness and experiences leading the DEI function. 

“DEI leaders can no longer afford to take a reactive approach to DEI,” said Chandra Robinson, Director in the Gartner HR practice. “As both business and labour market disruption remain the norm, DEI leaders must be proactive in uprooting workplace inequities and purposefully advocate for their function.” 

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The survey shows 70% of DEI leaders agree senior leaders are the most critical stakeholders to an organization’s DEI strategy. Yet, many 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 strategy, DEI leaders must leverage key voices across the organization and gather evidence-based insights to better shape and implement their DEI strategy”, the survey says. 

To succeed long-term, DEI efforts must be supported by a combination of policies, systems and structures guided by key functions such as Executive Councils or Employee Resource Groups.” 

The report says DEI leaders must 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 progression of DEI efforts.

Read Also:  Tools to prioritise diversity in recruiting

Gartner says 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.

“Organizations that adopt consequential accountability will reach gender parity 13 years earlier and racial parity 6 years earlier in their leadership benches.


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