DEI Programs: 4 Essential Factors for Success

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been a topic of interest for several years. Yet, only around 5% of organizations that implement DEI programs have success with them. The primary reason for failure is the lack of a foundation based on which programs can be formulated. Essentially, DEI initiatives need to move beyond compliance requirements or public image building and focus on making employees feel valued irrespective of their differences, whether due to race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, cultures, religion, or other criteria. Experts outline the following key factors essential for the success of DEI programs.

1. An ongoing process of review and analysis of DEI Programs

Without understanding where the organization currently stands and how it compares to other companies in the sector, it’s impossible to set realistic goals or assess the progress of DEI initiatives. However, gathering measurable data for analysis is not as straightforward as it seems. The result of a simple survey on whether employees feel they have equal opportunities for growth and progress may not be realistic if it does not account for or give weightage to the identity of a respondent from an underrepresented category. For instance, if 70% of the employee responses point to the organization providing equal opportunities in a workforce that is unfairly skewed against underrepresented groups, examining the opinions of the remaining 30% would provide better insights into issues or areas for improvement.

2. Alignment of DEI strategy with the long-term vision

While ethics lie at the foundation of most DEI initiatives, programs are unlikely to succeed unless commercial factors are considered. For DEI initiatives to gain wider support across the organization, including top management buy-in, they need to be highlighted as a driving force for achieving a commercial goal, such as a happier workforce contributing to larger revenues.

3. Ensuring leadership engagement with DEI Programs

DEI initiatives cannot succeed unless the top management buys into the programs. To ensure top management support to the program, leadership involvement in DEI initiatives needs to move beyond awareness towards active engagement. It might be challenging to get the entire leadership team to buy into the program in the initial stages. The best solution is to identify a leader to spearhead the efforts and relay to his peers the benefits or results of the program. Proven commercial benefits always make it easier to get more top management involved in rolling out DEI initiatives.

4. Action plan for implementation

Implementing DEI strategies should be an ongoing process of rolling out programs, reviewing processes, and tweaking efforts to make them more relevant to the organization’s specific needs. The initiatives span several areas such as recruiting, training, organization culture and succession planning, and bottlenecks might be present in each area, leading to failure in the absence of periodic reviews of strategies. For instance, quotas can help to increase the number of hires from underrepresented groups. However, they do not guarantee that the new hires will stay unless suitable measures such as mentorship programs, training and development or cultural change are also planned in conjunction with them. Identifying barriers to entry and growth and putting in place remedial measures to eliminate the barriers are essential for the sustainability of DEI initiatives.

To succeed in implementing DEI programs, organizations need to move away from tokenism for the sake of portraying a positive public image to more sustainable measures that ensure long-term benefits. It requires making changes across the board by removing biases and creating an equitable environment where underrepresented groups feel comfortable and secure, contributing to the organization’s success and achieving career growth.

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The Diverseek podcast aims to create a platform for meaningful conversations, education, and advocacy surrounding issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in various aspects of society.


Diverseek serves as a platform for meaningful conversations, education, and advocacy surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.