Demystifying DE&I Strategy and Execution

Why Companies Struggle with DE&I Programs

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) are more than just buzzwords. They’re essential components of a successful staffing strategy. As a financial advisory company committed to helping middle market, private equity and venture capital firms manage their portfolio companies more effectively, we understand the critical importance of well-crafted DE&I programs.

Let's look at why DE&I matters and how a strategy framework is pivotal in navigating its complexities. Our HR Growth Pros elevate companies through inclusive and equitable workplaces, staffed by the right professionals.

The Importance of a Strong DE&I Strategy Framework

Companies that prioritize DE&I are more attractive to a broader range of top job candidates. It showcases their commitment to creating an environment where all employees feel valued and respected. For current employees, it reinforces that everyone is a valuable asset. For incoming hires, it sets the stage for a positive and productive partnership.

Contrarily, a lack of DE&I strategy speaks louder than companies might think. Having no clear DE&I policies sends a stark message to all employees: the company either overlooks the importance of diversity and inclusion or, worse, tolerates discrimination. Silence is easily misinterpreted and individuals often form their own, negative, narratives about a company's values.

A Core Business Strategy with Far Reaching Ripples

DE&I strategies have become more integral as core business strategies. To be effective, they require unwavering support from both board and executive team members. DE&I should not be viewed as a checkbox but as a foundational element that aligns with and enhances the company's mission, vision, and values.

At its most basic, DE&I ensures a safe and inclusive workspace for everyone. However, it can be implemented toward far more ambitious goals. A true DE&I strategy looks inward to transform the company culture and then outward to make a positive impact on the surrounding communities. It's about fostering an environment where your company is seen as a positive presence, a strong leader and an attractive company to partner with.

Why Companies Struggle with DE&I

DE&I initiatives prove to be a stumbling block for many companies at the implementation stage. A comprehensive 2023 report on DE&I by global leadership firm DDI found that greater diversity drove better business performance. However, the number of leaders who support DE&I initiatives at their company has decreased 18%. The report further points out that, without strong leadership buy in, DE&I programs have little chance of success. Other key findings of the report show that companies that invest in diversity are:

  • 2.4X more likely to outperform their peers financially.

  • 11X more likely to have high-quality leaders overall.

  • 4X more likely to have leaders who understand and act on changing customer needs and perspectives.

  • 3.2X more likely to engage and retain top talent.

Activating an effective strategy requires a structured approach with clear accountability and measurable objectives. Like any other business strategy, DEI initiatives need quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge progress and ensure that the company is moving in the right direction.

The reality is, not every HR executive is equipped to guide an effective DE&I plan to completion. This task requires specialized expertise and experience, which is why an outside, third-party consultant is invaluable. They can begin with an unbiased assessment of the company's current state. Once they identify the areas for improvement, they can craft a tailored DE&I plan that includes reporting and accountability.

For companies struggling at any stage, partnering with a fractional HR expert can be a game-changer. A fractional CHRO brings the insight and guidance needed to navigate DE&I challenges successfully.

The Importance of Inclusion for Companies

Beyond diversity and equity, companies often fail when it comes to inclusion. You may meet your hiring goals but do your employees feel included, appreciated and have a sense of belonging? With 50% of workers leaving their jobs after only two years, it’s easy to see why inclusion is critical. Especially when you’re navigating a merger or acquisition. An effective HR department proactively promotes inclusion before morale becomes toxic.

Three key strategies for achieving inclusion in the workplace include:

  1. Comprehensive onboarding programs that sow the seeds of inclusion starting on day one.

  2. Employee performance reviews that offer positive recognition and align productivity with company goals.

  3. Engagement initiatives that open communication, foster collaboration and hold leadership accountable.

If your company struggles in any of these areas, consider the value of a C-level Growth Pro who can identify areas for improvement and implement a nextLEVEL plan that includes building or revamping inclusionary programs.

Creating a DE&I Strategy that Works

Drafting and enacting a DE&I strategy is not a peripheral issue but a central pillar of modern business strategy. It demands careful consideration, strategic planning and dedicated execution but offers measurable rewards when successful.

Schedule a call with a Growth Operators HR Growth Pro today. We will partner with you to implement DE&I in the workplace and catalyze positive change across your organization.