September 17, 2020
By Katy Tynan, Forrester
This week, we released a report on the state of the practice of DEI: diversity, equity, and inclusion (see “The Business Of Belonging: How Equity For Employees Drives Equity For Your Brand“). In the course of the research, we interviewed a cross section of practitioners, including chief diversity officers (CDOs), researchers, consultants, and experts in the field, to better understand what’s working and where there is still room to grow. While we heard some best practices that are well known, we also learned a few things that surprised us:
- Leading firms believe a good DEI strategy is a good business strategy. As investors and consumers have pushed for more transparency, we have an opportunity to see the direct link between diversity and business performance. The data is clear. Diverse organizations are more profitable, more innovative, and do a better job of retaining top talent. The same strategies that drive inclusion and diversity also drive organizational performance. We often hear questions about the business case for this work, but in the firms with more mature practices, the connection between inclusive practices and business results is well understood.
- CDOs are struggling. Sixty-three percent of CDOs were appointed in the last three years, and the level of influence those executives have varies widely. Some report to the CEO and have a budget, while others have an entirely separate full-time role within the organization and have seen their title change but not much else. As companies seek quick fixes, appointing a CDO is seen as a commitment to change, but without influence or resources, many CDOs report feeling frustrated and powerless.