MARCH 16, 2023

Is DEIB A Distraction Or A Business Imperative?

Last week I facilitated training with Human Resources leaders in an organization where each HR leader had been partnered with a DEIB champion.

All the HR leaders were White, and all the DEIB leaders were Black. (Something that’s all too common, IMO).

There was one lone White male in the room.

During our debrief, he said, “After this training, I feel like I have a better understanding of DEIB, and I will see what I can do to fit this in, but I have to add that I think this is a distraction from our business objectives.”

I could see the tears in his DEIB partner’s eyes.


Like the man, many people view Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as optional, as a program or initiative, or as just another checkbox on their long list of to-dos.

If I had to guess, I’d say that we’re at about 70/30 right now, with 70% of people viewing DEIB as a distraction from the bottom line, and 30% fighting to prove that it’s actually a business imperative.

Why DEIB Is A Business Imperative

I speak for the 30% when I say that:

  1. Organizations are suffering financially from unnecessary turnover derived from insensitive managers and leaders.
  2. When people don’t bring their full selves to work, organizations don’t benefit from their creativity, innovation, and contributions.
  3. When People of Color don’t see themselves represented across all levels of an organization (most importantly in leadership), they feel less secure in saying what they really think, and spend a lot of energy guarding themselves – energy which could be spent on contributing.

As I write this, organizations have more open roles than ever in recent memory, while unemployment remains very high. Why is this?

Because women and People of Color are burned out, frustrated, tired, disappointed, and upset. Organizations are suffering as a result.

If you view DEIB as a distraction from business objectives, I want you to think about the elephant in the room – race and racism.

Whether you know it or not, this is the topic that all of your employees are constantly avoiding, talking around, gauging, weighing, and scared of having.

The result of getting this conversation wrong is anger, distrust, and disgruntled employees.

This elephant in the room has a direct impact on relationships, culture, and productivity:

  • Corporations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. (McKinsey)
  • Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets. (HBR)
  • Diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions. (People Management)
  • Diverse management teams lead to 19% higher revenue. (BCG)

Do your managers know how to give feedback to a Black employee, in a way that will be well-received, and not considered offensive?

Do your managers avoid giving honest feedback out of fear of “being canceled?”

This is why we at OAIB spend so much time in our workshops creating psychologically safe environments so leaders and staff can discuss difficult topics, including the elephant in the room.

Contact us to learn how DEIB can make teams more resilient, more connected, more innovative, and more productive.