DE&I Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, it's an opportune moment to reflect on the strides we've made in fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. The journey toward creating a culture that values and celebrates differences has been marked by challenges and victories. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs have come under fire from politicians and right-wing activists over the past year, thanks in part to the Supreme Court’s June ruling that race-based affirmative action is illegal. Some reports show that external forces are no longer pushing companies to invest in DE&l like they were in 2020; instead, in some cases, external forces are pushing back on companies’ investments.

Meanwhile, DE&I remains a factor that most Gen Z and millennial workers care about, even amidst today’s political and economic backdrop. DE&I is also a key workplace expectation across all generations, a competitive advantage, and an imperative for most organizations to consistently build into their long-term growth strategy.

Impacts on the Workplace

Corporations collectively pledged a total of more than $7.8 billion dollars to support racial equity efforts in 2020–2021, and some of those investments have paid off.

A new report from Paradigm has found that while some organizations increased their diversity tracking and efforts in 2023, others decreased their DE&I spending and strategy.
The report, called “The State of Data-Driven DEI,” examined DE&I data from 143 organizations in September 2023. The findings included the following:

  • While there was a six-point year-over-year increase in the number of organizations with a designated DE&I leader, there was a four-point decrease in the number with a DE&I budget.
  • There was also a nine-point decrease in the number of organizations with a DE&I strategy.
  • Furthermore, while 12% fewer companies gathered employee feedback on inclusion efforts compared to last year, 8% more had gender representation goals, for a new total of 34%.
  • And 4% more established goals for race and ethnicity in leadership, for a total of 20%.

A study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership on the impact of Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) in 2023 shared that:

  • A large majority of the U.S. workforce (78%) said it’s important to work for an organization that prioritizes diversity & inclusion
  • Nearly 70% reported they recognize DE&I as critical for their organizations’ success
  • About 6 in 10 American workers said their company has policies in place to support DE&I — such as ensuring fairness in hiring, pay, or promotions — and more than half said they have training or meetings around diversity & inclusion at work.

However many DE&I initiatives are now experiencing a pullback. Economic pressures, which led to widespread layoffs in 2022 and 2023 across some sectors caused significant cuts in DE&I positions and funding. CDOs and similar titles have experienced a nearly 40% churn rate at companies engaged in layoffs, as compared to about 24% for non-DE&I roles.

CDOs interviewed in this study shared that their challenges center most around getting organizational alignment, preventing personal burnout, and building committed cultures.

As we look back on the year's DE&I initiatives, we celebrate the progress we've made while acknowledging that our journey is ongoing.

Actions Organizations Can Take to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace requires a concerted effort from leadership within an organization. Here's a list of actions organizations can take to support DE&I:

Develop and Implement DE&I Policies:Establish comprehensive policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the organization's operations, including hiring, promotion, training, and compensation. Implementing inclusive hiring practices to attract a diverse pool of candidates can include using blind resume reviews, expanding recruitment networks, and providing bias training for hiring managers. Review and update organizational policies to ensure they are inclusive and supportive of all employees, including those from diverse backgrounds.

Promote Inclusive Leadership: Train managers and leaders to be inclusive and culturally competent. Encourage them to create an inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and respected. Offering regular training sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion to all employees, including leadership, is important. These sessions should cover topics such as unconscious bias, cultural competence, and inclusive communication.

Create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Establish ERGs for underrepresented groups within the organization to provide support, networking opportunities, and a platform for advocacy.

Foster open and honest communication about diversity, equity, and inclusion issues within the organization. Encourage employees to share their experiences and perspectives, and actively listen to feedback.

Fair Compensation Practices: Conduct regular audits of compensation to ensure pay equity across gender, race, and other demographic factors. Address any disparities found and commit to fair and transparent compensation practices.

Provide Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, flexible hours, and parental leave to accommodate diverse needs and lifestyles.

Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs: Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs to support the career development of underrepresented employees and help them advance within the organization.

Community Engagement: Engage with diverse communities through outreach programs, partnerships, and sponsorships to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion beyond the workplace.

Measure and Track Progress: Establish metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Regularly evaluate and adjust strategies based on data-driven insights.

Continuous Learning and Improvement: Stay informed about best practices in DE&I and be willing to adapt strategies to reflect evolving understanding and needs.

By implementing these actions, organizations can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace where all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to succeed.

While organizations are struggling to find a balance in addressing government and political affairs in the workplace when it comes to DE&I, this is the time for leaders and allies of DE&I work, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, to come together and take a stand to continue to move the work forward.

For more questions or comments and to discuss DE&I in your workplace, please do not hesitate to reach out to your DE&I Advisor or to our team at Our team is here to support you in any way we can.

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