Corporate America treats DEI as a problem to be fixed, and often relies on DEI training as part of the process. This approach was roundly criticised last week by a panel of corporate experts convened by the New England Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, which posited that DEI rather should be framed as a “search for excellence.”
Directors should ask themselves: “what result do we want” rather than “how do we fix” what DEI addresses. How can a corporation create equity “at scale?” Equity is not a zero sum game, where the winners’ existence must imply that there are losers also. These recommended concepts must be invented in the marketplace as they have not been taught in business schools.
What does “diversity” mean? Companies should not try to define it, as these lists inevitably center on one or more cohorts: race, sex, economics, color, country of origin, gender, etc. Diversity should be approached holistically: it means human beings and how do we advance all of them as a group?
DEI is a cultural effort, not a response to “events.” Reputational risk to enterprises is of great and of growing importance. Institutional investors are driving home this point. There is a delta between promises and progress today– why? Should not DEI be placed into the purview of a “Risk Committee” along with all other potential pitfalls?