Organizational leaders increasingly recognize the importance of integrating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into their people strategy. Gallagher's research shows a heightened sense of urgency around DEI as a top priority. Employers are working to respond to stakeholder expectations around DEI — including current and prospective employees. Despite this urgency, only 7% of employers reported full DEI integration into the organization.*

In a 2022 Gallagher survey, about half (48%) of employers reported their DEI strategy was "somewhat" complete, and approximately one-third (36%) said that their DEI integration was "mostly" complete. These organizations focused on communicating their vision for DEI and ensuring regulatory compliance. Both are essential parts of a DEI plan. Still, organizations hoping to attract and retain top talent must intentionally create an environment that embraces DEI as a philosophy versus a DEI program.

In a new white paper from Gallagher's Human Resources Consulting practice, Ruby Hamacher, managing director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Karen Blackwell, senior consultant, offer their insights and a hands-on action plan to bridge the gap between DEI intention and an effective action plan.

Start by acknowledging that employees are in the driver's seat

Candidates take DEI into account when making job choices. With organizations competing in the same small talent pool, a company's commitment to DEI can give it a competitive advantage. The same is true for retaining current employees, who have plenty of good job opportunities available if they're dissatisfied with their workplace culture.

Employers also face high expectations from external sources, including clients, government agencies and consumers. Social movements driven by global events have pushed organizations to weigh in publicly on social issues to manage their brand.

DEI strategy faces challenges in the workplace

Leaders may face significant barriers, even in organizations committed to implementing a DEI strategy. Challenges include low prioritization, a lack of readiness and resources, an inability to measure the impact and insufficient visibility and communication.

Organizations often struggle between transformative and performative actions when promoting success. Leaders fearful of creating a performative impression often err on the side of under-sharing DEI efforts and successes, resulting in decreased awareness. Yet too much promotion creates "diversity fatigue", producing cynicism or disinterest. A multifaceted DEI workplace communication strategy is vital to manage the narrow middle ground successfully.

Creating a DEI Action Plan

Gallagher's consultants offer a seven-step action plan for leaders working to develop a DEI strategy to help overcome common workplace barriers. While the plan assumes C-suite support, it acknowledges the real-world challenges that arise and provides guidance for a cross-functional approach to integrating DEI through all operations, policies and practices relevant to your people strategy.

Assess, analyze and act

This in-depth white paper offers direction to guide teams in assessing the organization's DEI status and which issues to address to move your organization forward.

Gallagher consultants also offer insights to structure your talent attraction and retention plan to address DEI goals. For example, learn more about how to avoid common recruitment pitfalls that limit a diverse group of candidates.

The authors further explore the role of manager DEI training and accountability related to unconscious bias, along with internal and external communications approaches. At the top of the communication tips list: look for ways to communicate through DEI, not about it.

Savvy leaders know that diversity, equity and inclusion are mission-critical to organizational wellbeing, including talent attraction and retention. Most organizations are still learning the best way forward. When companies use the right DEI strategy and guidance, small authentic changes accumulate for meaningful outcomes. Gallagher consultants have seen that authentic DEI integration can enhance employee loyalty, boost retention and innovation, engagement and productivity — all of which can support the bottom line.

Complete the form above to download Gallagher's white paper, Seven Steps to Bridge the Gap Between DEI Intention and Action. Delve into the insights, action plan and three short case studies. New perspective can help your organization design a system-wide strategy and action plan to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into every business function.



*"2022 Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey," Gallagher, 2022.