Most Organizations Still Miss the Mark on Diversity & Inclusion

According to a new Brandon Hall Group study, more than 80% of organizations believe they provide a diverse and inclusive environment for their employees. However, BHG research shows only about one-third rate themselves highly for critical drivers such as having a diverse talent pipeline, leadership that reflects the diversity of the customer base and workforce or a workforce that reflects the diversity of the customer base or communities the organization serves.

In the wake of the social justice movement and COVID-19, Diversity & Inclusion has never been more important, both as a business driver and as a way for organizations to connect with their increasingly diverse workforces.

“In 2020, many organizations took action to improve inclusive practices, discuss social issues and support employee activism at work and in the communities they serve. Complicating the evolution of D&I is a lack of executive-level leadership, critical for culture change,” said Brandon Hall Group COO Rachel Cooke.

Almost half of organizations have no clear D&I leader or efforts are led by a non-manager with other, often competing, responsibilities. Organizations that do have a senior leader or executive, such as a chief diversity officer, heading their D&I efforts are two to four times more likely to say their initiatives are successful, the research shows.

“Organizations that do not invest leadership, time, energy and resources into Diversity & Inclusion are missing a unique opportunity to improve organizational culture, business competitiveness, employee engagement and talent retention,” said Brandon Hall Group SVP and Principal HCM Analyst Claude Werder.

Employers seeking to fully leverage the power of Diversity & Inclusion to improve business results must answer many critical questions, including:

  • How can we do a better job leading, managing and funding D&I efforts to improve the impact?
  • How can we do a better job creating awareness of unconscious bias and building a culture of self-awareness that empowers “unconscious inclusion?”
  • How can we embed the values of Diversity & Inclusion in all levels of the organization?
  • How can we develop a diverse pipeline of professional and leadership talent, internally and externally?

“Success in Diversity & Inclusion involves an organization-wide strategy. It is about building a culture through values, engaging talent, continuous learning, recognizing success and employee activism,” said Brandon Hall Group CEO Mike Cooke. “It is a complex journey, but one worth investing the time, money and effort required to drive business growth and improve the engagement of employees, customers and all other stakeholders.”

Brandon Hall Group provided its membership community with the latest Diversity & Inclusion research, which includes two studies — one on benchmarking and one focusing on how the importance of Diversity & Inclusion is changing. Based on both the quantitative research and scores of interviews, we offer our clients seven strategies to improve Diversity & Inclusion as a business driver.

To get a glimpse of the evidence-based insights Brandon Hall Group publishes for the most forward-looking corporate organizations, download the infographic Bridging the Diversity and Inclusion Gap Between Intent and Reality here.

For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit

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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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