In our latest edition of the Nixon Peabody & GHD webinar series, we discuss changing priorities within the DEI space, and the tangible ways in which companies can build and preserve trust among all those in their ecosystem.
Over the last few years, DEI has come into greater focus across corporate America. The 2020 protests against racial injustice sparked a flurry of statements on diversity, but what used to suffice as a mere public pledge is no longer enough. As the public holds feet to the fire, companies are facing pressure to live up to their promises in ways we haven’t seen before. Employees are resigning and leaving their jobs at unprecedented levels, in part because they want to work for organizations that create social change. Shareholders are calling on companies to conduct civil rights and racial equity audits that measure the impact of their DEI investments. The consequences of inaction can be significant—we’ve even seen businesses face lawsuits when they fail to live up to their stated commitments. Across the board, people want to know they can trust organizations when it comes to DEI. At Nixon Peabody, we developed our DEI Strategic Services Group around that goal—to help companies act on their DEI principles and live out their organizational values.
So how can Food and Beverage companies create the kind of change that fosters a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace? GHD started with open dialogue. We began to socialize issues of DEI within our population, sharing our initial goals and evidence that supported the need for more diversity in tech and engineering. It is important that we hear directly from our employees on these issues. To formalize this effort, we created Employee Resource Groups that advance conversations between underestimated and underrepresented communities and allies. We incorporate insight from these conversations in our business decisions from recruiting and promotions to client relationships. Through deliberate and consistent messaging, actions that embrace diversity became the norm within our internal teams. Our efforts differentiate us among clients who are equally focused on these issues. In one instance, a Food & Beverage client selected us for a project based on our demonstrated commitment to DEI, which mirrors their own.
When it comes to advancing DEI, data is key. Companies that employ facts and research to identify the need for diversity understand their current climates and measure the effectiveness of their programs. At GHD, we use the Global Diversity Equity & Inclusion Benchmarking (GDEIB) tool to measure our diversity needs and tailor our strategy to these areas.
Data often generates better buy-in on DEI, which is sometimes perceived as a zero-sum game where taking opportunities from one group disempowers another. But research dispels that misconception. Instead, we know that everyone benefits from diverse teams. World Economic Forum research, for example, shows companies with above average diversity scores drive 45% revenue from innovation, versus 25% for those with below average diversity scores.
For any DEI program to succeed, companies need to have an ecosystem that encourages open and transparent communication.
Once organizational leaders acknowledge their DEI shortcomings, set realistic goals, and establish spaces for safe conversations, they can truly elevate their DEI journey. At GHD and Nixon Peabody, we continue to focus on building diverse teams, driving innovative solutions, and embedding DEI in our day-to-day operations.
DEI is ultimately an active effort. Companies should continue to adapt their approach to meet the evolving needs of their people, clients, and communities to get it right over the long term.
We’re excited to continue advancing and guiding DEI efforts across the industry. Please reach out to either of us—Kamau Coar or Jason Haelzle—with any questions you might have. For more information on Diversity & Inclusion at GHD please visit our website Diversity and Inclusion—GHD.