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How to make DEI a mainstream focus

Written by: Brad Shuck, Ph. D., Professor of Human Resources and Organizational Development, University of Louisville, Co-Founder, OrgVitals; and Amy Stern, Managing Director, Research and Strategy, BI WORLDWIDE
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For every component of business, thoughtfully considering how to approach it through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is ultimately what will help create the solid company culture that brings strategy to life in every day experiences.


Over the past couple of years, the critical role of DEI was elevated.


While some companies had already started their DEI journey, many others took a first step during this time and made a statement to show their commitment to DEI such as hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, bringing in outside experts to form a strategic plan or providing training opportunities. Many leaders were still figuring out what it meant to drive DEI in multiple ways throughout their organization.

While strategy is an exceptionally important foundation, what employees need to see now is companies moving beyond strategy, statements, and training to take action and show real progress. And not simply as part of a program or off on the fringe – they need to see it seamlessly incorporated into the culture they experience every day.

For leaders, it starts with understanding what it means to have a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work culture and work population, as well as how to apply it on multiple levels. Think about: How is it strategic? How are we being proactive? How are we integrating it? Are there people in our organization whose voices are not heard that we need to include in the conversation?

From there, how do you move from strategy to the day-to-day behaviours and activities that create real culture change? To help identify which daily actions encourage diversity, create equity and foster inclusion, we surveyed employees to understand current perceptions around company DEI efforts, such as:

• Is the employee population diverse and does the company value diversity?

• Are there equitable opportunities for employees?

• Do employees feel included?

For those employees whose companies rated strongly in these areas, we were able to pinpoint which aspects of culture led to these outcomes and which area(s) of DEI they each impact.

DEI chart.png

While none of these are new concepts, what is new is looking at them through the lens of DEI. For example, when we’re doing things to empower employees, making them feel their ideas are heard and valued, we need to make sure we’re considering diverse perspectives, perhaps ones we haven’t considered before, and providing equitable opportunities for those ideas to be heard.

For every component of business, thoughtfully considering how to approach it through the lens of DEI is ultimately what will help create the solid company culture that brings strategy to life in everyday experiences.

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Dr. Brad Shuck

Dr. Brad Shuck

Associate Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource and Organizational Development program University of Louisville

Dr. Brad Shuck is an internationally recognized business thought leader, entrepreneur, and academic in the areas of employee engagement, leadership development, and organizational culture. He is the author of Employee Engagement: A Research Overview (Routledge, 2020) and has published or presented more than 350 scholarly articles, book chapters, and invited presentations. Shuck holds five US Copyrights for his research-driven, intellectual property on employee engagement and culture management. His work has been featured in US-based international media outlets including Forbes, The Washington Post, and TIME, as well as international outlets such as Business World Online, India’s Economic Times, and the Hindu Times. He has given Keynote addresses on four of the seven continents including these countries: China, Spain, India, Panama, the United Kingdom and across the United States for some of the world's largest and most admired companies. Shuck is a tenured Full Professor and Co-Founder of OrgVitals, a purpose-built culture management software company. He is a member of the Honourable Order of Kentucky Colonels and holds advanced degrees in Counselling, Student Affairs, Human Resource Development, and Adult Education.
Amy Stern

Amy Stern

Managing Director, Research and Strategy, BI WORLDWIDE

Amy Stern is Managing Director of Research and Strategy at BI WORLDWIDE. Her research has resulted in peer-reviewed publications, invited lectures, research awards, and valued insights for many clients. Amy’s deep understanding of employee experimental psychology allows her to combine critical thinking and creativity to create custom research that gets to the heart of diversity, equity, and inclusion at work. She advises companies on how to create an equitable and inclusive workforce where all employees can thrive.