Why Leadership Teams Should Be at the Forefront of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

DEI, Organizational Development, Readiness, Reflection
dei strategy development, leadership, organizational


Multiple times, I’ve been contacted by a potential client wanting to engage in DEI work within their organization. When I ask about the leadership team’s commitment, I am met with an awkward pause or told they would not be available for the meeting. While those selected to lead the search may be more than qualified, these individuals should not be left out there to manufacture how they hope the leaders of the organization will ultimately be engaged in the work. Folx, this is problematic.


Leaders, how you show up on day one matters.

Leadership teams play a vital role in fostering a workplace environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Having leaders committed to these values is essential for creating an equitable and inclusive culture that can help foster collaboration, creativity, and innovation.


The results can be dire when leadership teams are not involved in Diversity, Equity, and inclusion initiatives throughout the process. Workplaces with minimal DEI initiatives can lead to a lack of employee engagement and satisfaction, higher turnover and absenteeism rates, decreased productivity, and an overall hostile working environment.


Without effective leadership to support DEI values, these issues may become endemic throughout the organization. Additionally, without deliberate efforts to address these issues, organizations may remain stuck in a cycle of outdated policies that reflect a homogenous workforce. These same policies may additionally focus on equality for all but have the unintended impact of creating inequities among staff members, leaving individuals feeling devalued.


When leadership remains absent from DEI initiatives, it sends a message to employees that their needs are not seen as essential or worth addressing. This can create feelings of alienation and exclusion, which can further increase existing problems within the workplace. Furthermore, when leadership fails to prioritize DEI initiatives, it can contribute to systemic racism and inequity in the workplace, which again contributes to feelings of injustice among employees from different backgrounds.


If companies wish to foster a collaborative, effective, and dynamic workplace, top executives and leadership teams must prioritize their involvement in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives from conception to implementation.


As you think about your organization

– What are the measures in place to ensure leadership teams are actively involved in DEI initiatives?

– Are there any visible consequences when leadership fails to take action on DEI issues?

– How do leaders demonstrate their commitment to DEI values within the workplace?

– Do employees feel like their voices matter and that they can contribute meaningfully to decision-making processes?

– Is there evidence of a sustained effort from top executives and senior members of staff toward promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the organization?

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