DEIB: A Rose By Any Other Name

Sep 11, 2023

The Evolving Landscape of DEIB in the Modern Business World

Recently, I found myself immersed in an enlightening conversation about the “next wave” of DEIB—Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. The discussion couldn’t have been timelier, highlighting the contemporary challenges and paradigm shifts in DEIB strategies.

During our discourse, a clear sentiment emerged: many organizations today seem daunted by the idea of a “holistic” DEIB approach. Instead, there is a palpable longing for decisive leadership—someone who can offer a clear path and guide actionable measures. The overarching plea is unmistakable: “Show us the way because the journey through DEIB terrains has become intimidating and fraught with uncertainties.” While I resonate with this sentiment to an extent, I can’t help but be drawn to a holistic perspective. To me, “holistic” suggests that DEIB should be all-encompassing, seamlessly flowing from the boardroom to the break room. Merely recognizing DEIB’s value isn’t enough. It’s imperative for organizations to fervently embrace, respect, and enact its principles.

A Decade in Review

Over the past ten years, there has been a noticeable surge in organizational commitment to DEIB. This is evident in resource allocation, the establishment of dedicated roles, and the launch of targeted DEIB campaigns. However, delving deeper reveals a complex picture.

Despite their commendable intentions, many initiatives face recurring challenges:

Leadership Ambivalence: A significant barrier is the lack of genuine leadership commitment. For DEIB efforts to truly flourish, they require unwavering support from top-level executives.

Operational Hurdles: Without substantial authoritative support, many promising ventures falter, leaving potential transformative changes unrealized.

Prioritization Issues: It’s counterproductive to view DEIB components in isolation. Focusing too heavily on one aspect, like Diversity, can overshadow others, such as Inclusion. Leading voices, such as SHRM’s Johnie Taylor, Jr., emphasize transitioning from mere diversity to genuine inclusion—a viewpoint I strongly support. After all, what is diversity without an environment of inclusion?

The result? Numerous well-intentioned initiatives fail to reach their potential, primarily due to strategic missteps and inconsistent commitment.

The Current Scenario and the Road Ahead

The present socio-political landscape is evolving, shaping the discourse on DEIB. Some, when faced with increasing challenges, appear tempted to find an ‘escape route’, which could undermine the essence of DEIB. Yet, I hold a different view. I believe DEIB’s relevance isn’t diminishing; instead, it’s set to play an even more prominent role in the business realm. I envision DEIB as the bedrock of future business strategies, underpinned by strict accountability measures, ensuring that its principles are more than just buzzwords—they are put into practice.

In Conclusion

I recently remarked, half in jest, that DEIB isn’t fading away. Even if it adopts a new moniker, its core essence remains unchanged. Echoing Shakespeare’s enduring wisdom, “DEIB, by any other name, remains as significant.” As we steer through the ever-shifting business landscape, it’s vital to recognize and advocate for the perennial importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Specific Advice for Organizations

In addition to the general advice, I provided in the original article, here are some specific things that organizations can do to create a culture of inclusion:

Make sure that your leaders are committed to DEIB. This means that they must be more than vocal advocates for DEIB and must model inclusive behavior in their own words and actions. They should be trained and equipped to lead multi-cultural teams. There is no one size fits all approach to leadership.

Listen to and act on feedback from employees. This is essential for understanding the challenges and opportunities for DEIB in your organization.

Provide evidence-based training for all employees. Trainings with proven content, and formats that will help employees to increase awareness, navigate uncomfortable topics and empower action.

Establish clear policies and procedures for preventing discrimination and harassment. These policies should be communicated to all employees and should be enforced consistently.

Create opportunities for employees to connect with people from different backgrounds to grow and thrive. This could include things like organizing employee resource groups, sponsoring diversity events, or providing opportunities for employees to work on cross-functional teams.

Eliminate color-blind ideologies within the organizational framework, openly value and celebrate differences.

Develop and support all Employees, ensure all employee’s are growing and developing at equitable and reasonable trajectory.

Creating a culture of inclusion is an ongoing process, but it is essential for everyone to thrive.

Author Details:
Chanda Adams Matthews, MAOL, SHRM-SCP
Founder, Principal Consultant
CMatt Consulting Firm, Management and HR Consulting Firm
Social Media: @cmattconsulting
Phone: 618-980-6712