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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have the power to transform business by creating a truly inclusive workplace culture — which, in turn, drives employee satisfaction and retention. In fact, 80% of candidates say they prioritize inclusion and want to feel like they belong.

Implementing a DEI strategy is often a priority for businesses in a world where differentiation is key, but many find they run into certain challenges that can complicate the process or keep it at a standstill.

Knowing where to start and how to embed DEI into company culture long term can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Becoming familiar with these top challenges can provide clarity on why a strategy may be stalling and how to allocate efforts differently to address those challenges.

1. Limited budget and inexperienced staff

 Many companies believe that DEI is a one-person role or does not need to be a shared responsibility, and as a result they don’t dedicate enough of their budget to it. On the contrary, DEI should be monitored and executed across the entire organization. It is often viewed as a function of HR only, but it should have a prioritized place in every department.

This may seem like a large undertaking because the concept of DEI is rather new, and a lack of understanding can make it difficult to tackle the strategy company-wide. Businesses can tie their DEI strategy to key business initiatives to strengthen the support.

2. Knowing what to measure and relevant benchmarks for comparison

 Businesses often get bogged down in numbers because of the extensive amount of stats that can be gathered. They often don’t know which are the “right” metrics to measure DEI success. There are two ways to approach this: quantitative and qualitative data.

  • Quantitative data measures things like improvement in the rate and time of promotion of diverse hires, increases in the diversity mix of supervisory and leadership positions, reduction of discrimination grievances, reduction of turnover of diverse hires, and a higher level of productivity and innovation.
  • Qualitative data measures changes such as improvement in employee attitudes and job satisfaction, an increase in employee engagement and participation, and an increase in employee comfortability with sharing opinions and ideas.

It’s also important to assess the big picture when it comes to metrics — for example, a 5% increase in diverse hires may not ultimately impact diversity levels if the company’s goals for total new hires in the same timeframe is parallel in growth.

3. Knowing how employees feel about culture on an ongoing basis

 Most companies forget that one of the most important things to do is get the entire company involved, not just management or leadership. It’s critical to know how DEI efforts are impacting every employee at every level. Companies can accomplish this by conducting listening sessions or developing surveys to identify how employees truly feel about the company culture. These sessions should not be a one time thing either it companies should look to conduct them annually. Is there something the company could improve on or something holding people back? Does everyone feel like they’re bringing their real authentic selves to work?

4. Sharing DEI initiatives and resources across the organization

 DEI initiatives and resources can be challenging to address whether in-person or remote, but it is important to stay consistent. Simply “implementing” DEI and letting it fall off the radar shortly after will not achieve true change in inclusivity and diversity practices. Companies should regularly educate the organization on their biases and how they can actively participate in DEI with strategic resources.

DEI strategies should also cover all the bases — if the goal is to celebrate multiple holidays or different traditions across the organization, it’s important to ensure no groups are being forgotten.

5. Knowing how to sell the business case for DEI internally

 Selling the business case for DEI can be tricky — for it to be successful, all members of the organization must be invested and recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace. Some strategies for fostering this involvement include (but are not limited to):

  • Developing an onboarding and new employee orientation process with DEI in mind
  • Providing career development planning for all employees
  • Implementing a reward and recognition program to increase engagement
  • Holding managers accountable for retaining high performing diverse teams
  • Enhancing benefits and perks to attract a diverse workforce.

Looking at the big picture

 Of course, DEI is not limited to best practices within the workplace and the employee experience. Other important areas of consideration include recruitment and talent acquisition, training and development, customer and employer branding, community investment, and supplier diversity. All of these segments require similar efforts to be successful and are each just as important as the last. If you’d like to learn more about DEI in the workplace or need help implementing the right strategies, we have an experienced team ready to help. Reach out to us here or check out our other resources for more helpful information.


Katie Coleman
Product Marketing Manager
Katie Coleman is a Product Marketing Manager at Circa. Based on her conversations and research, Katie produces webinars and writes articles on diversity and other employment-related topics to guide employers, employees and job seekers in their professional endeavors.

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