The author says there are plenty of reasons why companies need to focus on improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. The overwhelming majority of employees and job seekers want to work in a diverse workplace. Diversity is good for overall business. And treating potential and existing employees fairly is simply the right thing to do. The question is how to take impactful steps that actually improve DE&I. Deloitte's most recent CMO Survey found that spending on DE&I initiatives rose just 8.8% from February 2020 to 2021, suggesting the work was primarily focused on messaging and branding. It's not enough to showcase efforts. Brands need to ensure their renewed focus on DE&I produces real, bottom-line results and, most importantly, moves the needle on inclusion.
Creating real change will require brands to focus inward instead of concentrating most of their efforts on external messaging and branding. The task requires investments in training and recruiting and a strategy to improve internal practices. Here's a look at three ways marketing leaders can start creating real DE&I impact.
- Aim to beat industry standards: Every industry is different. When setting goals, review what is typical for the industry, sector, and position and set a goal to overachieve on those standards.
- Get real, be transparent: It's also important to understand that improving DE&I is a long-term project. Making a lasting change will not be a short-term agenda item you can cross off your to-do list anytime soon. Being realistic isn't an excuse for thinking small: it's an acknowledgment of the complexity of the issue and the need to make a long-term commitment.
- C-suite buy-in: Keep in mind that marketing leaders and CMOs can't make sustained progress on DE&I initiatives alone. To make real change, you'll need buy-in from the C-suite. That may be harder to gain in some industries than others for a variety of reasons. But 2021 is a great time to make a case for increasing your company's focus on DE&I since the experience of the past year and a half has brought greater pressure to bear in that direction across the board.