ESG Investing

Taking a Holistic Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace


The stark economic and racial disparities revealed by the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the explosion of ESG investing have all helped to underline an urgent imperative: finding successful approaches to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) workplace. As investors and shareholders continue to reach critical benchmarks on the path to this goal, business influencers such as Fortune 500 have moved to incorporate these factors into their rankings.

However, achieving real and lasting change is easier said than done—and it goes far beyond a few adjustments here and there. It requires a holistic approach that encompasses the entirety of business operations in a meaningful way.

Existing efforts can help demonstrate novel approaches to reaching and reaping the benefits of a truly DEI workplace.

Approaches in Action

Organizations can lean on a variety of methods to holistically introduce DEI in the workplace.

Gather and Analyze Information

To ensure equity in compensation, home management platform Thumbtack relies heavily on data and analytics to compare pay at specific levels while factoring in race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, and age. In order to achieve its intentional DEI strategy, it also analyzes reviews and promotions to determine whether advancement rates fall within company-wide parameters. The company further surveys employees to assess their feelings about how fairly development opportunities are given.

These efforts also include helping C-suite and other executives become better allies

Increase Transparency and Disclosures

One important element of software company Adobe’s efforts to boost DEI in the workplace is to show accountability by providing a comprehensive reporting of its activities. With that in mind, its Adobe Diversity & Inclusion Year in Review 2020 report breaks out data on the gender composition of everything from its global workforce to new hires and does the same for members of underrepresented groups. There also is intersectional data, for example, breaking down the portion of female employees according to ethnicity. The company’s four-part DEI strategy to drive change also gets a spotlight. “In order to create meaningful innovations for our customers,” the report reads, “Adobe needs employees who bring diverse perspectives and life experiences.”

Seek Professional Advice

Introduced in 2020 by the Black- and Latinx-led W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Expanding Equity program works with companies to help them build detailed game plans for attracting, developing, retaining, and promoting diverse talent. In 2022, the program will focus on financial services, consumer goods, technology, and publishing and media businesses.

The results of embedding inclusion within a company ripple outward, from increased revenue, productivity, and innovation to happier employees and a better business reputation. Encouraging these values and practices throughout the organization can even extend to products and the customer experience. By taking a holistic approach to DEI in the workplace, companies can help ensure they move past lip service to decisively create long-term change.

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