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The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
The state of DEI in 2024
Lyssa test – Culture Amp writer

Lyssa Test

Writer, Culture Amp

Amidst economic uncertainty, many businesses have shown themselves to be fair-weather friends to DEI. When faced with adversity, they’ve cut resources, laid off Chief Diversity Officers, and slashed DEI budgets, undermining past progress.

To better understand the shifting DEI landscape and explore how businesses can build momentum in the face of change, Culture Amp surveyed 165 companies about the state of their DEI strategies. We aggregated 2023 Workplace Inclusion survey results from nearly 400 companies and 175,000 employees, and we used the insights to create a new report: Workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report 2024: Realities of the current DEI landscape.

Here’s a brief look at some of the report’s key findings, including how global companies are navigating their DEI practices in today’s challenging landscape.

1. Employees and HR teams alike are less confident their businesses are building diversity and equity

In 2021, 71% of HR professionals reported that their organization extends its DEI efforts beyond basic compliance. Last year, that number dropped to 60%. Since HR teams are often the closest to DEI programs and strategies, this decrease does not bode well for workplace DEI.

Perceptions of DEI investment dropped for HR teams in 2023

Employee perceptions of DEI have also dropped. Where we saw growth from 2020 to 2022, that sentiment dipped for the first time in 2023. While we hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come for DEI, these numbers are concerning. Employees seem to be negatively reacting to businesses deeming DEI optional rather than essential to their core operations.

Employee perception of DEI dropped in 2023

2. Lack of expertise, leadership support, and data are hurting DEI

So, what’s changed in the last two years to cause this sharp decline? Companies are doing less DEI work, generally. HR professionals identified three top DEI challenges, all of which reflect those cutbacks:

1. Lack of DEI expertise

2. Lack of leadership support

3. Measurement maturity (lack of data)

When organizations face layoffs, tighter budgets, and fewer resources, DEI is sometimes one of the first business areas to suffer. Our data shows a steep decline in the number of companies hiring external DEI consultants last year, falling from 66% in 2023 to 47% in 2023. Without tapping into this external expertise, many HR and people teams aren’t able to fully leverage innovative strategies and best practices in their DEI initiatives.

DEI leadership roles met the chopping block too. While 56% of organizations had a leadership role dedicated to DEI in 2021, only 41% had one last year. With no internal champion, it follows that overall support from senior leadership is waning.

Lastly, many businesses lack the data they need to make informed DEI decisions. In 2023, 42% of organizations shared that they don’t have or report on DEI metrics at all. Without data, it becomes more difficult to track progress, make data-driven decisions, and gain executive support.

These three factors collectively serve as significant blockers to DEI success. However, they also offer a clear roadmap for businesses seeking to enhance their DEI efforts. Addressing even one of these challenges can initiate a chain reaction, creating a workplace that can adapt, evolve, and continuously improve over time to support employees from all walks of life.

3. There’s a proven business case for investing in DEI

Given recent cutbacks in DEI spending and resources, employees’ experience of DEI is more crucial than ever. For HR teams looking to prove the impact of their DEI work and initiatives, our research revealed some compelling figures to help you win executive buy-in:

  • Companies that hire DEI consultants scored 8% higher on building teams that are diverse.
  • Employees who strongly believe the company values diversity are 84% engaged, while those who strongly disagree are 20% engaged.
  • Companies that value diversity have a 6.8% higher stock price than those that don’t.
  • Employees who strongly believe the organization doesn’t value diversity are more than three times more likely to leave in a 12-month period.

Robust DEI actions make a difference—not just to historically excluded groups but to your organization as a whole. And companies that scale back on their DEI programs will likely miss out.

Given that every organization is unique, effective DEI measurement is key to understanding the impact of your initiatives. With the right data, you can track the tangible outcomes and overall effectiveness of your DEI programs, enabling informed decision-making, continuous improvement, and better experiences for your employees.

Understanding the modern DEI landscape with Culture Amp

Though these broader shifts are discouraging, they do provide a compelling argument: DEI is valuable, and businesses have an opportunity to reprioritize it and make a bigger impact on their employees.

To access the full depth of our research, download Culture Amp’s Workplace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Report 2024: Realities of the current DEI landscape. In it, we outline actionable steps that even resource-strapped businesses can take to secure executive buy-in, assess the state of DEI within their organization, and enhance the effectiveness of existing efforts.

2024 DEI report cover

Dig into the findings

Discover data backed DEI strategies that truly move the needle and learn how to make meaningful improvements that drive business impact.

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