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January 28, 2022 Amelia Wilcox

How to Influence Progress on DEI Initiatives When Leadership Isn’t On Board

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a tremendous organizational responsibility. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to convince executive teams to make DEI a priority.

Getting leadership on board with DEI initiatives is one of the biggest HR leaders are facing today.

We came up with 6 strategies during our latest HR Leader Brain Trust on how HR leaders can encourage progress on DEI initiatives with executive teams.

6 Ways to Convince Leadership to Support DEI Initiatives

1. Make DEI personal

DEI as a concept can feel very abstract.

What exactly is DEI? How does it translate to everyday operations? How does not addressing DEI impact the individuals in your organization?

Bring DEI down to human, day-to-day terms.

Explain to your company leaders how your organization impacts real people on a daily basis.

This can help break down barriers and help them see the impact their organization is having on their people, and how to make a more positive impact.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace is Critical

2. Bring in the experts

Outside influence and perspective can make a huge difference for company leaders.

Consider bringing in a DEI expert to talk about the importance of DEI at work and how to improve related initiatives.

HR leaders should also be learning from experts themselves. Get connected to people who live and breathe DEI. Learn how to hold DEI workshops from other successful HR leaders.

Study organizations that do DEI really well. Having DEI success stories can help convince leadership that investing in DEI is a worthy endeavor.

How to Influence Progress on DEI Initiatives When Leadership Isn't On Board—two woman working at a work computer

3. Ask questions and seek to understand

It’s hard to convince company leaders that DEI is a priority if you don’t understand their objections or thoughts on the subject.

Learn how to ask leaders good questions. Seek to understand their point of view. This will help you determine which data points, education, and benefits you need to highlight to them to help them learn and grow.

Executives teams are often very concerned with the bottom line. Their narrow focus may make it difficult to see DEI as an urgent issue. You can help them see that urgent need by understanding their mental roadblocks.

Related: 5 Ways HR Leaders Can Get Executive Team Support

4. Gather data

Speak leadership’s language and provide clear company data. Gauge your employees’ perspectives on DEI in your workplace.

When presenting this data to them, frame it as an opportunity to strategize on how to move the needle on this data.

For instance, say your company is primarily of one race. In your survey, employees are saying that things at work feel stagnant. Or, perhaps some employees say that they feel that their voice is not heard at work.

Determine how your recruiting efforts and company values may have contributed to this, and provide leaders with a solution to the problem.

5. Determine the “why”

It is key to tie DEI to your company’s mission.

Values are crucial. They help keep your organization afloat and on the right path.

Determine how DEI ties into your mission. If you can explain to leadership the connection between DEI and your mission as a company, you’ve got a pretty convincing case.

Then, give leadership actionable ways to make DEI a more prominent part of your mission, and how to do DEI better. Create goals, and document those actionable steps to improve DEI a part of your documented HR policies.

6. Connect DEI to the bottom line

Not addressing DEI has costs. People will leave if they are not accepted.

Your people are your greatest asset as a company. You can’t afford to lose them!

Here are some top benefits of DEI for organizations by Forbes that you can tell your leaders about:

  1. “Inclusive companies are more likely to hit financial goals
  2. Diversity equals excellence
  3. DEI helps employees feel safe, respected, and connected
  4. Diverse teams innovate faster
  5. DEI drives improved business outcomes
  6. Employees will feel a sense of belonging
  7. All employees are welcomed and encouraged to thrive
  8. The innovation that comes with diversity is a competitive advantage
  9. DEI drives better results
  10. Inclusion can help combat ‘work-from-home burnout’
  11. Diverse cultures reach a wider audience
  12. DEI efforts are important to a company’s values
  13. Inclusion creates a sense of psychological safety
  14. Increased empathy translates to increased team-building
  15. A diverse, inclusive environment retains employees”

Related: How to Convince Executives that Addressing Employee Attrition is Critical

For more on convincing executives to get on board with DEI, check out the HR Leader Brain Trust After-Party conversation below with real HR Directors from all over the country.

Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Awards
Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Education
Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Publications
Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)  

MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE WHOLE EMPLOYEE