7 powerful actions to accelerate D&I and 8 powerful truths

Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital survey highlights that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is progressively becoming part of the C-suite agenda. Globally, we are starting to see leading organisations building a diverse and inclusive culture into their business-level strategy.

D&I priorities are increasingly being woven into the end-to-end employee cycle as an important part of innovation and creativity, company branding, employee engagement and business performance.

It’s highly encouraging to see increased corporate recognition of the business case for diversity and inclusion. However, there remains challenges for leaders in knowing how to turn these aspirations into reality. Recent research on high-impact diversity and inclusion by Bersin (2017) has found that whilst a large number of organisations aspire to have an inclusive culture (71%), only few organisations have achieved this level of D&I maturity (12%).

A recent article written by Deloitte’s diversity and inclusion practice acknowledges these challenges and provides some practical guidance on overcoming them. This article is a culmination of work in diversity and inclusion research, representing a footprint of over 1 million employees across over 50 organisations globally. Through proposing seven powerful actions based on eight powerful truths about diverse and inclusive workplace cultures, authors Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon aim to accelerate the conversion of D&I aspirations into reality.

Taking a step forward through seven powerful actions to accelerate progress

Action #1: Recognise that progress will take a culture reset. True change takes time, and requires commitment and buy-in from all layers of the business. Start with smaller steps at an individual level by harnessing a common language for inclusion.

Action #2: Create shared purpose and meaning by broadening the narrative to diversity of thinking and inclusion. Widen the view beyond visible diversity to include cognitive diversity in order to create high-performing teams.

Action #3: Build inclusive leadership capabilities. Inclusive leaders make an impact that matters, inclusive senior leaders make an even bigger impact. Consider prioritising inclusive leadership training at critical levels of leadership within your organisation.

Action #4: Take middle managers on the journey. Provide middle managers with the D&I resources and training that empower them to take action. Provide them the time to learn through exposure, reflect on their experiences, and emotionally connect to the core purpose for diversity and inclusion.

Action #5: Nudge behaviour change by rewiring processes and practices. Start with the data. Pin-point the moments that matter most within the employee-life cycle and particularly vulnerable spots that are prone to bias, and consider how these can be modified.

Action #6: Strengthen accountability, recognition, and rewards. A strong, authentic and consistent narrative for change is important, and tying reward and recognition with inclusive behaviours sends the right messages. A simple idea is to highlight the contributions of employees who go above and beyond to champion inclusive behaviours and actions.

Action #7: Pay attention to diverse employees and customers. Celebrate inclusive behaviours and D&I achievements through social media and other public channels; your employees and customers will notice.

Understanding how to close the reality gap through eight powerful truths

Truth #1: Diversity of thought is the new frontier – The optimal level of thought diversity lies in the consideration of not just demographic diversity, but cognitive diversity as well, including educational diversity, functional diversity, and diversity in how people approach problem solving.

Truth #2: Diversity without inclusion is not enough – Diversity plus inclusion equates to better business outcomes. Businesses should have a common and shared understanding of what inclusion means for their people in their organisational context, which at its highest point should result in their people feeling safe and empowered.

Truth #3: Inclusive leaders cast a long shadow – The actions and behaviours from senior leaders matter. A lot. The phenomenal impact of a leader’s behaviours predominately drives whether employees will report feeling included or not. Further still, these figures translate into results, with feelings of inclusion leading to an increase in perceived team performance, collaboration and decision-making quality.

Truth #4: Middle managers matter – Middle managers play an instrumental role in driving an organisation’s D&I strategy. To better tap into this critical layer, senior management must move away from the “one-solution-fits-all” mentality when it comes to driving behaviour and attitude change in the mid-level.

Truth #5: Rewire the system to rewire behaviours – D&I training alone as an intervention does not lead to wider systemic change. To truly move the dial, we must consider the whole system and remove inherent biases or barriers held within.

Truth #6: Tangible goals make ambitions real – Whilst D&I goals (and quotas in particular), can often be a source of controversy, tangible targets and goals related to D&I are considered an appropriate way to ignite change, but only if they are driven by communication, coverage, accountability and reinforcement. This requires organisations to be courageous in the way they communicate their D&I goals to the broader ecosystem, including external stakeholders and customers.

Truth #7: Match the inside and the outside – Customers are now increasingly empowered to make purchasing decisions based upon an organisation’s support for diversity and inclusion issues. Businesses that lack authenticity will find it difficult to maintain good relationships with their increasingly diverse customer base.

Truth #8: Perform a culture reset, not a tick-the-box program – A compliance-, intervention- or programmatic-based approach to diversity and inclusion is not enough to reach the peak level of an inclusive culture. Investing in creating a diverse and inclusive culture is critical to success.

For more information, contact Monica Pham.

To read the full article, see here.


Bersin by Deloitte (2017), High-impact diversity and inclusion.
Bourke, J., & Dillon, B. (2018), ‘The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths’, https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/deloitte-review/issue-22/diversity-and-inclusion-at-work-eight-powerful-truths.html?id=us:2el:3es:4di_gl:5eng:6di

Deloitte (2017) 2017 Global Human Capital Trends, https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/human-capital/articles/global-human-capital-trends-2017.html

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