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  • Writer's pictureAbbey Salvas

Gaining Buy-In From the Top: 3 Ways to Convince Executives to Invest in DEI

Originally posted on the Mattingly Solutions Blog.

Beginning an organizational journey to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace can be challenging. Often one of the biggest challenges is getting executives to understand why DEI is worth investing in. Questions often arise from those in the C-suite about the “return on investment (ROI)” of these efforts.

When having these ROI of DEI conversations, it’s important to use data and research to back up your case. While there are strong moral and ethical arguments to be made (taking care of EVERYONE in an organization is simply the right thing to do), there is also a business case that can be extremely effective in convincing executives that the investment is worth it.

There are three core arguments that we recommend in our book, Inclusalytics, when it comes to gaining executive buy-in for DEI:

  1. DEI reduces the cost of turnover. 

  2. DEI improves creativity and problem-solving.  

  3. DEI increases employee engagement.  

1. DEI reduces the cost of turnover.

When individuals do not perceive their organization to be diverse, inclusive and equitable, they are more likely to leave the organization, especially if they are from a historically marginalized group. The cost of this turnover can be substantial, in concrete dollar amounts, as well as harder to quantify terms, such as loss of institutional knowledge. Further, large amounts of turnover can hurt your brand image. This means that top talent will be less likely to choose your organization in a competitive labor market.

In terms of quantifiable effects of turnover, research by Gallup shows that it can cost one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary to replace them. So, for one employee making around $50,000, the cost to replace them could be as much as $100,000! And that’s just one employee. Investing in DEI can keep your employees engaged and committed to your organization, saving money and knowledge from going out the door.

2. DEI improves creativity and problem-solving.

More diverse groups have been shown to be more creative and innovative. A diverse group of people brings a wide variety of skills and experiences, which lends itself to more productive problem-solving. Using a variety of perspectives can be essential in every field, from marketing to engineering to education.

When making this argument to executives, it is also essential to point out that diversity begets diversity. When an organization is diverse, candidates will be more attracted to working there, especially if they see individuals who share their identity. And as this diversity compounds, you will also see increases in creativity and problem-solving, and the corresponding business gains that go along with them.

3. DEI increases employee engagement.

Lastly, when making the case to executives, one can point out that DEI leads to increased feelings of belonging, which is positively related to engagement. That engagement has been shown to lead to higher profits, with research showing that companies in the top quartile of engagement are 23% more profitable than companies in the bottom quartile.

Investing in DEI not only increases engagement but can also decrease workplace discrimination and bias. Experiences of discrimination and bias at work have been linked to disengagement along with intentions to turnover. By committing to DEI efforts, organizations can see a more engaged and productive workforce, showing a critical return on investment.

Committing to DEI is an important first step and one that must come from the top. Gaining buy-in from those at the top of your organization can be a challenge but using the business case to show how this investment will pay off in the long term for the organization can be a successful strategy.

Looking to advance DEI through data-driven insights in your organization? Contact us at Plan to Action today to drive meaningful change, together.

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