D&I Dirty Dozen

12 absurd risks businesses take only in Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Disregard Goal Alignment: Leaders fail to align D&I strategies with overarching company goals, orienting instead toward D&I award criteria. It is of little surprise, then, when business leaders see D&I as a distraction from critical business goals.

  2. Copy Strategies from Competitors: Leaders copy and paste strategies from companies similar to theirs rather than designing customized approaches that take into consideration the specific context and needs of their own organization.

  3. Declare Best Practices Despite Suboptimal Results: Leaders declare a set of best practices despite these approaches producing suboptimal results, even when well-executed.

  4. Select Leaders on Passion or the Experience of Exclusion: Too many companies still select D&I leaders based on their passion or experience of exclusion rather than on their expertise to lead this complex work.

  5. Expect Volunteers to Deliver Results on Top of Day Jobs: Business leaders expect volunteers (e.g., members of employee/ business resource groups and diversity councils) to deliver D&I results on top of intensive core jobs.

  6. Expect ROI Without Investing: We know you can’t get something for nothing. However, some business leaders expect a D&I ROI in absence of a meaningful investment.

  7. Require Unreachable Standards for the Business Case: Business leaders repeatedly ask for exceptionally and unreasonably stringent proof of the business case for diversity and inclusivity.

  8. Assume Results Will Take Generations: Leaders assume results will take generations, and this reduces their expectations for impact.

  9. Avoid Addressing Uncomfortable Issues: Business leaders avoid addressing uncomfortable D&I issues, choosing silence over the opportunity to tackle tough challenges.

  10. Accept Blind Spots as a Reason to Do Nothing: By not holding business leaders and middle managers accountable, executives accept blind spots (including a lack of expertise and lack of willingness to develop D&I insights) as a reason to achieve nothing for D&I.

  11. Limit Analytics to Simplistic, Surface Metrics: Business leaders often limit analytics to simple or surface metrics (e.g., representation metrics or numbers of participants in D&I initiatives). They are content with skimming the surface and operating with a limited understanding of dynamics.

  12. Fail to Lever Drivers of Innovation: Business leaders content with familiar practices that produce the same results fail to explore how D&I can potently drive innovation.

    Originally presented to D&I executives on June 2016 in NYC by R. Steele with M. Snowden and J. Schmitz