More than half of diversity, equity and inclusion leaders — 51% of them — say the greatest hurdle they face lies in executives failing to take ownership of driving DEI outcomes. According to Gartner, additional challenges include limited power to drive decisions, ineffective coordination of DEI efforts across business units, limited DEI staff and employee resistance to DEI changes.
“DEI leaders can no longer afford to take a reactive approach to DEI,” said Chandra Robinson, director in Gartner’s HR practice. “As both business and labor market disruptions remain the norm, DEI leaders must be proactive in uprooting workplace inequities and purposefully advocate for their function.”
To do that, Gartner recommends DEI leaders:
Build a Sustainable DEI Strategy
Gartner found that 70% of DEI leaders agree executives are the most critical stakeholders to an organization’s DEI strategy. Yet, many report having to continuously coach business leaders on why DEI matters, how it aligns with enterprise goals or why it is critical for both near- and long-term success.
To help address such concerns, Gartner suggests leveraging key voices across the organization and gathering evidence-based research to better shape and implement DEI strategies. For example, they might look into drivers of exclusion across diverse and underrepresented talent and anticipate unique scenarios across business functions.
Create a Culture of Inclusion
DEI leaders should aim to develop their organizational skills, create specialized roles and build programs to help ensure diverse talent segments are embraced and provided with equal access to resources, Gartner said. Common examples involve inclusion champion programs, inclusive leadership training and accountability partners.
Gartner said organizations that measure DEI, create accountability and embed inclusion into their talent decisions and processes report up to 20% more organizational inclusion compared to their peers.
Establish DEI Accountability
Gartner’s research shows organizations that adopt consequential accountability will reach gender parity 13 years earlier and racial parity six years earlier in their leadership teams.
“DEI and social impact initiatives remain integral to building diverse and inclusive workplaces where employees feel safe, valued and empowered,” said Robinson. “With underrepresented talent leaving organizations at higher rates than other employee segments, organizations committed to DEI must strengthen and support their DEI leaders to set themselves apart from competitors.”