To Avoid DEI Backlash, Focus on Changing Systems — Not People

Perhaps in response to the critique that corporate efforts to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion are all talk and no action, an increasing number of companies are taking the matter of diagnosing and resolving inequities more seriously. According to a recent survey, more than 40% have either already conducted a DEI survey or audit or are looking to do so “in the near future.”

But in my own work as a DEI practitioner who often administers, analyzes, and helps companies act on these kinds of assessments, arriving at data-driven insights is only the tip of the iceberg. The far harder challenge is addressing organizational inequities without incurring backlash: strong adverse reactions from individuals and groups that undermine or compromise the positive outcomes DEI initiatives try to create.

Mandatory DEI trainings have been linked to lower levels of representation in leadership positions for Black, Latine, and Asian employees of all genders, and white…

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This article was written by Lily Zheng and originally published on hbr.org