In the ever-changing DEI landscape, many organizations face obstacles in fostering an inclusive environment. Yet, as we venture into 2024, there are encouraging signs indicating a resurgence in DEI initiatives and commitment despite previous setbacks. 

Are DEI Initiatives Effective? 9 compelling indicators: 

Diverse staff (DEI initiatives blog)

1. Senior Leadership Support for DEI Initiatives

Capterra’s overall survey revealed that 58% of HR leaders in our survey say their company prioritized DEI more in 2023 than in years past, 32% prioritized DEI about the same, and only 10% prioritized DEI less. The HR leaders in the survey claimed that their diversity programs are flourishing. 

Although the Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina does not directly address employer efforts to foster a diverse workforce, it remains lawful for employers to implement diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility programs that seek to ensure workers of diverse backgrounds are afforded equal opportunity in the workplace.

Here are examples of business leaders who have advocated for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts:

  • Tim Cook (CEO, Apple Inc.): Under his leadership, Apple has implemented various diversity initiatives to promote diversity. This includes increasing the diversity of its workforce and leadership team, investing in educational programs for underrepresented groups, and supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Cook has also publicly spoken out in support of LGBTQ+ rights and has advocated for diversity in tech and other industries.
  • Mary Barra (CEO, General Motors): Under her leadership, the company has implemented various initiatives to promote diversity. This includes increasing the representation of women and minorities in leadership roles, investing in programs to support diversity in STEM education, and advancing supplier diversity. Barra has also spoken publicly about the importance of diversity in driving innovation and has advocated for creating an inclusive workplace culture.

2. Increased Budget Allocations for DEI Initiatives

According to Capterra’s 2023 DEI Cutbacks Survey, the majority (65%) of HR leaders surveyed say their DEI budget increased in 2023. They also state that their company is prioritizing DEI even more this year than it has.

With a bigger budget, HR leaders tell us they’ve increased their spending on initiatives to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organization. 69% of respondents say they invest more in DEI training programs and software. While 67% say they invest more in dedicated DEI headcount and diversity recruiting resources. 

Also, a majority of HR leaders say they use their software to administer DEI training modules (55%), track progress towards DEI goals (50%), or manage employee resource groups (50%). However, many also use their software to get feedback on their DEI programs or report DEI metrics.

In addition, a combination of cooling inflation, a rebound in consumer confidence, and a resilient job market have companies feeling better about their financial outlook. Thus, motivating them to continue investing in their talent management priorities. 

JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America announced their 5-year commitment to allocate funds for (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) DEI initiatives:

  1. JPMorgan Chase – announced a $30 billion commitment over the next five years to advance racial equity and support underserved communities. The commitment includes increased lending to Black and Latinx homebuyers, support for minority-owned small businesses, and investments in affordable housing and neighborhood development projects.
  2. Bank of America:  pledged $1.25 billion over five years to advance racial equity and economic opportunity in 2021. The commitment includes investments in affordable housing, small business development, and initiatives to address racial disparities in healthcare and education. Bank of America also announced partnerships with organizations promoting racial justice and inclusion.

3. Integration of DEI Initiatives into Business Strategy

Business strategy 3-D render.

Crafting a robust DEI strategy is essential to every company. It positions them at the forefront of every candidate’s mind, motivating them to outperform competitors. 

One area that significantly impacts corporate DEI initiatives is recruiting. So, your company’s success hinges on its workforce. Therefore, you build high-performing, diverse teams that drive innovation and achieve business goals by strategically recruiting diverse talent with the right skills and cultural fit. 

According to Lever, 81% of employees check out the company’s vision for DEI before applying for a job. 71% reviewed job postings to ensure inclusive language was used.

One-off DEI initiatives are not enough. Inclusion efforts need to be rooted within the company’s overall strategy.  Lever’s study also revealed that more employers say they offer these inclusive policies: 

  • 88% offer flexible hours
  • 70% offer pay transparency
  • 69% provide gender-neutral paid family leave
  • 68% offer floating holidays
  • 60% provide travel and/or legal expenses for employees traveling to 

another state for an abortion

  • 56% provide childcare assistance programs 

4. Expansion of DEI Programs

In an HRB article by Jeremie Brecheisen, a new Gallup research indicated that 84% of CHROs surveyed claimed their organization’s investment in DEIB is increasing. 122 CHROs of large companies said they’re implementing everything from systemic changes to local-level mentorship for managers. CHROs reported that they have active DEI-focused employee resource groups (77%), analytics teams (46%), and listening posts (37%). Many CHROs are also providing specific DEIB training for managers (73%). They are also providing training on recognizing unconscious bias (85%), hiring and promotion (62%), and mentoring and sponsorship programs (57%).

Accenture has recently expanded its DEI program by investing in New York-based Praxis Labs, a software-as-a-service virtual reality (VR) company. So, the end-to-end immersive learning platform that helps users develop soft skills to drive equity, inclusion, and value in the workplace and beyond. This investment reflects Accenture’s ongoing commitment to providing black entrepreneurs with funding, connections with Accenture clients and ecosystem partners, and community engagement. 

5. Transparency in Reporting

According to Women’s Business Collaborative, transparency is particularly impactful for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It is also seen as an answer to the call for companies and organizations to focus on. So, they published their Corporate Transparency in DEI Report, which aims to determine what information on DEI companies are making public.

The report analyzed 553 companies and how they share information about their DEI commitments. Findings around transparency include: 

  • 34% published a separate DEI Report
  • 47% published their EEO-1 reports 
  • 84% included DEI in their CSR or ESG/Sustainability report
  • 46% provided intersectional data, broken down by both gender and demographic groups
  • 22% published employee engagement survey results

Keeping DEI top-of-mind for employees in your organization is just as important as making progress on DEI goals. Therefore, your organization should be vigilant about sharing DEI initiatives, events, employee benefits related to DEI, and news about DEI progress to the rest of the organization. So, this is often done through email, the company intranet, or a collaboration tool.

As per Capterra,  53% of those who share DEI communications at least once a week strongly agree that company leadership won’t sacrifice DEI in tough times.

6. Collaboration with External Partners

Engaging external stakeholders such as community partners, customers, and suppliers can amplify DEI efforts and drive broader societal impact: 

  • Meta invested $100 million in Black-owned small businesses, Black creators, and nonprofits that serve the Black community in the US. So, this includes $25 million in support of Black content creators and $75 million in cash and ad credit grants to support Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve the Black community. The company also spent $1.26 billion with US diverse suppliers and $306 million with Black-owned businesses.
  • Google – collaborated with the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI) to establish a $4.8 million institutional research program to build research capacity for faculty and Hispanic students at CAHSI institutions. Google also started the HOLA Entrepreneurs program in the UK to offer free digital skills training to entrepreneurs with roots in Latin American countries. So, they’re now working with more than 1,800 start-up businesses. 

7.  Enhanced Training and Education

According to Capterra,  69% of CHROs surveyed say they’re investing more money in both DEI training and software. Also, a majority of HR leaders say they use their software to administer DEI training modules (55%)

In Trailant’s How to Build an Effective DEI Program study,  65% conduct DEI training. So, most DEI professional respondents, 61%, claim DEI training is “important” to their organizations, and 58% have defined and trained teams to identify unconscious bias and microaggressions.

According to the Pew Research Center, 53% of workers who have participated in DEI training said it has been helpful.

8. Incorporation of Employee Feedback

In Lever’s State of DEI report, 67% of organizations instruct employees to discuss questions with their direct manager, and 73% urge employees to contact the HR team.  Specifically: 

  • 73% discuss with the HR team
  • 67% discuss with their direct hiring manager
  • 40% contact a designated DEI manager
  • 37% contact senior management

9. DEI remains a high priority for employees

In a study by Benevity, 90% of employees surveyed say they have personally benefited from successful DEI initiatives at work. So, employees are eager for corporate leaders to continue prioritizing DEI work, with 66% of respondents believing their company should commit more time and resources to DEI work than they currently do. 

Moreover, 92% of respondents agree companies have a responsibility to help all employees become aware of their biases. 

Addressing the Pushback 

So, despite these recent DEI resurgence, how do HR and DEI leaders revive their DEI commitment and address the pushback? 

Let’s look into some strategies: 

  1. When faced with pushback, reframing the narrative around DEI initiatives is essential. Instead of viewing them solely as a cost burden, highlight their benefits to the organization. Research has consistently shown that diverse teams are more innovative, make better decisions, and drive better business outcomes. So, focusing on these advantages can shift the conversation from budget concerns to long-term value creation.
  2. Securing buy-in from the leadership team is crucial for the success of any DEI initiative. Present compelling data and case studies demonstrating DEI’s positive impact on organizational performance. Therefore, engaging leadership in conversations about the strategic importance of diversity can help align their priorities with DEI goals.
  3. Tailor to your diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives based on your organizational goals and resources. Every company has its unique makeup, culture, and challenges. Copying another company’s strategy might not address your specific needs. So, using a targeted approach ensures your efforts are focused and achieve maximum impact.  
  4. If you have a limited budget, consider starting small. Identify low-cost initiatives that can impact, such as establishing ERGs, creating mentorship programs, or partnering with non-profit organizations specializing in DEI. As these initiatives show positive results, you can request additional funding and expand your DEI efforts. 

Leveraging Free DEI Resources and Transparent Communication

  1. Use free resources. There’s a wealth of free DEI resources available online. Look for toolkits, webinars, and training materials from organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the National Diversity Council.
  2. Be transparent with employees about the reasons for a renewed commitment to diversity and inclusion. Acknowledge past challenges and explain the organization’s vision for the future and the specific steps it plans to take to meet its DEI goals. Encourage employee feedback and honest conversations to foster a culture of accountability and inclusivity. 
  3. Train and educate employees to help them understand the importance of DEI and how it contributes to a more inclusive culture. Address misconceptions and biases with open dialogue. Using simulations, case studies, or inviting guest speakers from diverse backgrounds can help employees understand diversity from other people’s perspectives. Get employees’ feedback on what could be improved in your training. 
  4. Gather data on your current diversity, equity, and inclusion state to establish a baseline and track progress over time. Measure metrics in your hiring process, promotion practices, or employee engagement among different demographic groups. This data can guide targeted interventions and resource allocation for maximum impact.
  5. Conduct DEI employee surveys regularly. Ask employees if they are satisfied with the company’s diversity strategies and if there is more to improve. Your employees’ feedback will guide your efforts to request more budget or eliminate ineffective practices. 

Why I wrote this: 

Efforts to make workplaces more inclusive are gaining traction. By investing more money, gaining leadership support, expanding programs, and being open about progress, companies are taking significant steps forward and embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

For its part, Ongig helps organizations foster DEI by helping recruiters write bias-free job descriptions. Contact us to schedule a demo

Shout Outs: 

  1. 2023 Has Been A Great Year for DEI Programs – Capterra
  2. Research: Where Employees Think Companies’ DEIB Efforts Are Failing – HRB 
  3. Corporate Transparency in DEI Reporting Brief – Women Business Collaborative 
  4. The State of Workplace DEI – Benevity 
  5. How to Build an Effective DEI Program – Trailant
  6. The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: Progress, Priorities, and Opportunities – Lever 
  7. The State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts: DEI Throughout the Employee Lifecycle – Lever 

by in Diversity and Inclusion