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Why Your DEI Program is Failing (and How to fix it)

office meeting about DEI program

Many organizations that committed to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) are seeing little progress in their efforts, resulting in diversity layoffs and/or abandoning the mission altogether.

DEI Program Failure 1: There are no clear goals or measurements to achieve DEI

Like any organizational goal, campaign, or investment, DEI must be continuously tracked and measured to see progress or, more importantly, to know what and when things need to change. Many companies or organizations hire a Diversity speaker or have their employees undergo diversity training. While these help, they aren’t long-lasting solutions that lead to real impact and organizational change.

DEI Solution:

Create KPIs for your DEI strategy, and follow through with them. Hold leadership and employees accountable for diversity goals.

DEI Fail 2: Companies aren’t doing their DEI Research

Making bold company statements about your commitment to DEI might look good to the public, but DEI programs fail when it isn’t committed internally. One of the worst things a company can do in DEI is make DEI an additional responsibility of employees. Whether it’s HR, supplier diversity, the communications team, or worse, employees of color, this leads to burnout and, more often than not, creates more problems. Not to mention it can also drive talented POC leaders out the door.

DEI Solution:

A DEI position should be created or outsourced or hire a DEI professional. When selecting DEI professionals, do everything you typically do when choosing a professional. Ask for credentials, call references, and request clarification. Race is not a qualification!

DEI Fail 3: Companies become reactive and respond without a professional

When a company responds to a diversity lawsuit or tries to regain its image after a DEI advertising failure, they tend to focus on damage control. And sometimes, companies don’t miss the mark and end up in hot water.

For example, Starbucks’s 2018 Racial Incident. After a Starbucks employee called the cops on two Black men who were customers at the store, the public was outraged. After many apologies and workplace bias training, Starbucks also laid off some white employees out of “damage control” despite having nothing to do with the incident. One of them successfully sued Starbucks for $25 million.

DEI Solution:

Firing employees because of their race is the exact opposite of DEI. That’s why hiring a DEI professional in times of crisis is essential to avoid further damage to the company's reputation and revenue.

Need help with DEI? Contact one of our Consultants,, or 800-834-4946 to learn more about our services and how we can help achieve DEI success.


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