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March 20, 2024

Why should you work hard to keep DEI alive and well?

It’s a proven, smart business strategy.

The concept behind diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) was developed with the best of intentions. It ensures that every employee was provided with equal opportunity to be hired for a job, receive a promotion, lead a team, or simply have a seat at the table.

DEI was never meant to favor one group over another. However, that is the unfortunate misunderstanding that has resulted from years of being siloed within companies rather than becoming an organic, integral part of the company’s culture.

Add to that the misuse of media by opponents of the DEI concept to promote false narratives and misconceptions, and we now have a significant, broad misunderstanding of what DEI was supposed to accomplish—and what it has actually achieved.

What is DEI actually supposed to accomplish?


This is the idea of embracing as well as leveraging the unique characteristics that identify us and make each of us special. 


This is simply a pledge of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for everyone, while identifying and removing barriers that may affect some groups or individuals more than others.


This requires developing a culture where everyone is respected and encouraged as individuals, so they feel as though they belong and are valued for who they are and what they bring to the company.

Three misconceptions about DEI

Misconception one: DEI is designed to give certain groups advantages within a company.

The intent of DEI was never to lower standards or expectations in order to diversify an organization. It was designed to ensure that organizations are harnessing the unique power of their diverse workforce, including life experiences, different perspectives, and individual skill sets. In addition, DEI has created more intentional efforts to cast a wider net to find more potential employees that will lead to cultural enhancements as well as stronger employee engagement.

Misconception two: DEI is simply the “right thing to do.”

It is more apparent than ever that DEI truly is the right thing for employees, the company, and the community. But this has created a perception that DEI is only a good thing to do. Although there is nothing wrong with “feeling good” and having everyone be more engaged, DEI has produced many more significant outcomes. Unfortunately, it has often been promoted and therefore viewed as nothing more than a “good to have” but not actually as an essential part of an organization’s success.

Misconception three: DEI is a program that can be stopped and started.

In order to succeed, DEI needs to be fully integrated into the fabric and culture of the company. It needs to be a way of doing business, not simply something the company does for a quarter or two and then abandons. A successful DEI framework is a significant part of any organization’s DNA.

Why DEI is a smart business strategy

In order for DEI to be an integral part of any business, it needs to be woven into the culture. It needs to be understood as more than the “right” thing to do for employees, the company, or even the community.

When it’s woven into the way you do business, DEI can be a smart business strategy that has been proven to benefit companies and employees in fundamental ways.

DEI can strengthen a company’s workforce development, economic health, business productivity, as well as internal and external collaboration.

  • It helps attract talent, especially Generation Y and Z. Both generations not only embrace the idea of DEI, but they also insist that companies pursue it. In fact, 74% of all job seekers see DEI as a priority in choosing where to work.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, inclusive organizations are:
    • 73% more likely to reap innovation revenue
    • 70% more likely to capture new markets
  • Similarly, companies that are racially diverse are:
    • 36% more likely to deliver financial returns above national industry medians 
    • 30% more likely to outperform other companies on profitability
  • Organizations that are not focused on DEI are experiencing 1.6x more voluntary turnover.
  • Companies that are actively working on DEI are 19% more effective at creating an engaging employee experience.
  • Companies with gender/ethnic diversity in executive teams are 39% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.
  • Inclusive organizations are 73% more likely to reap innovation revenue and 70% more likely to capture new markets.

Incorporating DEI into your culture

If it’s truly a part of your company, DEI can allow every employee to flourish for who they are and what they can do for the company.

Managing this can appear daunting since you more than likely have employees from a range of generations—baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. Each of these groups has a different perspective on their jobs and their companies, and the individuals within those groups need benefits that work for them, and each one has a variety of aspirations.

If you view DEI as an integral part of your company culture, it can come alive in many positive ways and benefit every employee and your business. Now is the time to review how you approach DEI and how you can make it work better for you.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion may have its detractors and many of the attempts to make it work have come up short. This could be becuase its intent was not authentic, its purpose was misunderstood, or it was not effectively integrated into the fabric of how the company does business.

But DEI is still vitally important to every company’s success. Our society is far more diverse than ever, and businesses need to reflect that.

Unfortunately, business leaders and employees are often not even reading from the same book, let alone be on the same page concerning DEI. According to a 2020 Accenture study, 68% of business leaders believe that they have created an empowering environment for employees. That same study found that only 36% of employees agree with that assessment.

How do you bridge that disconnect and effectively integrate DEI principles into the organization? 

How Marsh McLennan Agency can help

DEI is a journey. You won’t make it work overnight. It will evolve just as your organization does. Things will change. But many companies who embrace what DEI truly is have produced consistently stronger business results than those who have attempted to ignore it as a business priority.

Marsh McLennan Agency offers a DEI consulting team to help you develop clear strategies and initiatives that will align DEI with your business goals. We diagnose the current state of DEI in your organization, work with you to develop the right strategic plan, and help you determine the best ways to execute that plan.

To learn more, please contact Gary Abernathy at