Why Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Fail

Why Diversity and Inclusion initiative fail

Diversity and Inclusion can be instrumental in driving business performance. My team continues to expand its research and spread awareness on the business case for D&I, and if you are curious about this research, we invite you to download our Business Case deck to learn more. But that is beyond the scope of this article. Today we’re discussing why Diversity and Inclusion initiatives fail.

The challenge is that achieving meaningful results from your D&I strategies requires strong change management, the appropriate focus, and specific programs that appeal to your organization to build on their own momentum. Even the most well-intentioned organizations with a thorough awareness of D&I can misstep in their approach. Here are three reasons organizations miss the mark with their D&I strategies.

1. Leaders aren’t leading inclusively

Teams that have diversity but lack inclusion perform worse than even homogenous teams. In other words, you are better off doing nothing if your organization intends to attract diverse talent without ensuring its culture is inclusive. Culture is most impacted by leadership. If leadership doesn’t commit to being inclusive, then your organization has no chance of retaining its diverse talent and maintaining productive teams.

Lead Inclusively - Inclusion vs Homogeneous

2. Employee engagement isn’t the best barometer of your success. 

There is a direct correlation between inclusion, employee engagement, and productivity. Unlike other D&I metrics, employee engagement is already actively tracked by most organizations, which provides a good baseline when tracking the effectiveness of new strategies.

However, engagement doesn’t tell the whole story. Looking at metrics around diverse employees’ attrition and advancement can also only get you so far. That’s why my team focuses on identifying where the talent pipeline is leaking and why. Are you seeing Asian American women fail to reach the director level? Do you even know whether that’s the case in your organization? These are the questions you need to be asking and answering.

Employee engagement research

3. Relying on “best practices”

The ultimate outcome of an inclusive culture and successful D&I strategy is increased innovation. While it is easy to get caught up in best practices that produce incremental change, companies that want to be the employer of choice are moving toward innovative “next practices”, and more than ever they are using Diversity and Inclusion to do so. My company, for example, is innovating by applying machine learning to automate inclusive behavior coaching for everyone. Work like this is extremely exciting in the opportunity it presents in affecting tangible change that we haven’t seen in quite some time. The most exciting part is my work is only one of many around that is passionate and ready to affect change. The future of our workplaces is more promising than ever.

We would love to discuss this topic with you and answer any of your questions at my open Q&A sessions. Our team also host complimentary quarterly webinars where we go in-depth on a variety of relevant issues. You can learn more, or sign up for updates on both events via our events page.

If you can not, or do not want to attend, we still want to hear your thoughts! Leave us your comments below! What are new innovative ideas you and your colleagues are exploring or using to affect change? Which parts of organizational culture change are you most excited for in the near future? What are other reasons Diversity and Inclusion initiatives fail?