How to get senior leadership buy-in for DE&I

Beyond the smiles and words of encouragement, the cold-hard cash and resources needed to achieve inclusion are often missing.  

Across the world, corporate diversity managers struggle to gain tangible support from their CEOs and other executive leaders to prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion as a critical business need.  

Why is leadership support for DE&I important?  

Without the active support of key decision markers in the company, the task of building a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is nearly impossible.  

Nuanced and embedded into every business operation, successful DE&I strategies start with chief executives and C-Suite directors as vocal role models – championing equality across the entire workforce.  

The influence of those at the top will increase employee receptivity to DE&I initiatives and help accelerate inclusion progress. As the controller of a company’s purse strings, strong leadership support for DE&I should also lead to a significant financial budget to invest in robust inclusion programmes and specialist personnel dedicated to the initiatives.    

How to gain leadership buy-in for your inclusion efforts 

Change the Narrative on DE&I  

Some business leaders view diversity and inclusion as a deficit, which must be filled to fit in with current trends – such as, ‘we lack women and black leaders.’ Instead, try to reverse their perspective to view diversity as an asset. Challenge them to think about how qualified women and black leaders will add value, creativity and fresh perspectives to their team and support their business goals.   

Promote the Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion 

The most diverse and inclusive companies benefit from greater performance, also known as the Diversity Dividend. Research shows companies with above-average diversity produce more revenue from innovation (45% of their total) than those with below-average diversity (26%).[1] Also, in a study of 5,000 board members across 60 countries, the company leadership boards with higher gender diversity were more likely to prioritize innovation.[2]

Explain the Hefty Costs of Not Taking DE&I Seriously  

Risk averse business leaders may be worried that investment in DE&I is a gamble. However, research shows that not investing significantly in inclusive workforces puts companies at an even bigger risk on losing out on customers and investors. Between 2014 and 2018, research showed that stock prices rose more if a company revealed an improvement in diversity, [3] while more than a third [38%] of US consumers are more likely to trust brands that promote diversity in their advertisements. [4] 

For more information on how improve your company’s equality efforts, read our free DE&I whitepaper to learn the scientifically proven approach to successful diversity, equity and inclusion.  

 

[1] – Holger, D. (2019). The Business Case for More Diversity. Wall Street Journal, October, 26.
[2] – Cheng, J. Y. J., & Groysberg, B. (2020). Gender diversity at the board level can mean innovation success. MIT Sloan Management Review, 61(2), 1-8.
[3] – Greenfield, R. (2019). When Companies Improve Their Diversity, Stock Prices Jump. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-17/when-companies-improvetheir-diversity-stockprices-get-a-boost.
[4] – Bourke, J. (2016). Creating high performing leadership teams | Deloitte Australia | Diversity & Inclusion case study.  

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