A2 Human Resource Executive®
Employers hesitating on launching or enhancing a diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy should stop
wondering and start moving. The evidence
is clear: The data proves that the D&I
business case is now pretty much baked
into bottom-line success.
“Diversity and inclusion is a competency today,”
says Brian Kropp, group vice president for Gartner’s
HR practice in Washington. “Ten years ago, who
would have thought of diversity and inclusion as a
According to Kropp, Gartner’s research affirms
the findings of Deloitte and Mercer about D&I buy-in
from top management. He says that, while there has
been significant discussion about the importance
of diversity and inclusion in the past few years, it’s
become more than just talk.
“What gives us evidence that this is a real thing
is diversity and inclusion are what CEOs talk about,”
Kropp says, noting that, out of all of the talent-related factors that are impacting earnings and
costs that CEOs could be talking about, diversity
and inclusion are the fastest-growing—at about 12
percent year over year.
The latest data from Deloitte’s 2017 Global
Human Capital Trends study supports this assertion.
The report shows that the proportion of CEOs
and senior executives who cited inclusion as a
top priority rose by 32 percent compared to its
2014 survey. Deloitte found that 69 percent of
the executives it surveyed (more than 10,000 HR
and business leaders across 140 countries) rate
diversity and inclusion as important issues (up from
59 percent in 2014), and 38 percent of executives
report that the CEO is the primary sponsor of the
company’s D&I efforts.
Similarly, when Mercer, in its 2018 Global
Talent Trends study, asked 793 C-suite executives
what areas of talent investment would make
the most difference to business performance,
“advancing the D&I agenda” ranked seventh among
the top 10.
“If you buy into the concept that what the CEO
says matters, then the fact that they’re spending
more time talking about something that’s been
growing fastest—diversity and inclusion—gives a real
indication that it’s a very real change,” Kropp says.
Gartner also has explored the value statements
that companies put in their culture—what’s important
within their culture—and more than 80 percent of
companies have diversity and inclusion (or some
close variant of them) listed among their main
“CEOs are talking about it; it’s in value statements
now,” he says. “Finally, the business benefit from
having a more diverse, inclusive workforce also has a
ton of studies that show D&I has made the leap to a
Of course, before an employer can launch or reenergize a diversity and inclusion strategy, it should
know how to define the terms. According to experts,
it doesn’t have to be complex.
Pratima Rao Gluckman, author of Nevertheless,
She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech,
defines inclusion simply as the act of bringing a diverse
set of people together to achieve a common goal.
Kathleen Lundquist, co-founder, president and CEO
of HR consultancy APTMetrics in Darien, Conn., has
worked on diversity and inclusion projects with a
number of large employers, including Coca-Cola and
Morgan Stanley. She defines diversity and inclusion
as offering an open-minded and respectful work
environment, in which people can be their best selves.
“It’s more than gender; it’s more than culture,”
Lundquist says. “Organizations who do this right
are able to leverage different perspectives and
experiences to develop better problem-solving and
Along those lines, Carin Taylor, chief diversity
officer at Workday, a leading provider of enterprise
cloud applications for finance and human resources,
says her company thinks about diversity and
inclusion by embracing the idea that every
employee offers a unique perspective. To Workday,