Is Your Leadership Team Personally Committed to DEI? Here are 5 Ways to Check.

Here are 5 ways to check if your Leadership team is personally committed to DEI.

If leadership is not committed to DEI work, it is likely to fail when being spread organization-wide. Inclusive leadership is a term often used to describe emerging leaders or leadership development programs. We know when leaders are not committed to DEI work, it rarely works when trying to embed into the culture of an organization. That is why it is important to develop and reward inclusive leadership behaviors, yet it can be difficult to hold leaders accountable.

In a research, we’ve found five proven techniques to cultivate inclusive leadership skills and to hold leaders accountable for DEI work:

  • 360 feedback 
  • Participation in DEI training
  • Turnover and retention measurement
  • Participation in Employee Resource Groups 
  • Elevating and addressing DEI issues

360 feedback to foster inclusive leadership 

A 360 assessment is a great way to obtain data and get a baseline for leaders to work from. Rarely does a leader want to consider themselves not inclusive. Yet, asking direct reports, peers, senior managers and customers or clients for perceptions of their behavior gives a more holistic, objective view of how they’re being perceived in the workplace. We recommend using a proven assessment tool and an outside facilitator, starting with questions like this:

  • How often does the leader seek out and consider different perspectives before making a decision?
  • How would you rate the leader’s encouragement and promotion diversity and inclusion in the team?
  • How well does the leader communicate the importance of diversity and inclusion to the team?
  • How well does the leader treat everyone on the team fairly and with respect?
  • How much does the leader do to create an environment where everyone feels valued and included, regardless of their background or identity?
  • How does the leader handle conflicts or disagreements related to diversity and inclusion in the team?
  • How often does the leader provide equal opportunities for professional growth and development for everyone on the team?
  • How often does the leader make an effort to understand and accommodate the unique needs and perspectives of each team member?
  • How often does the leader actively seek out feedback on how they can improve their approach to diversity and inclusion?
  • How well does the leader create a sense of belonging for everyone on the team?
  • How would you rate the leader’s overall effectiveness in promoting diversity and inclusion in the team?
  • What’s one specific thing you would like to see the leader do differently to be more inclusive?

Leadership participation in DEI training

There’s no magic number of training sessions or content that helps leaders become more inclusive. A lot of it depends on mindset and their interest in DEI work. That said, when leaders aren’t present at DEI training programs, it sends a clear signal that it’s not a priority for the organization. We recommend holding leaders accountable to attend as many DEI training sessions as they possibly can. That means taking an active role, encouraging others to participate and share, and listening to learn in those sessions. Leaders can also offer coaching to employees after sessions and build off the content in existing team meetings. inclusion isn’t created in the training session itself, but by way of the leader’s actions following the training.

Turnover and retention measurement for teams

We measure what matters. When a leader’s team is homogeneous and mirrors their identity, there is a problem. Simply measuring who the leader is hiring, promoting, who is staying and leaving is a telltale sign of an inclusive leader. I remember a client of mine sharing that they had a problem with many of their middle managers only hiring White men. Even though it was a white male dominated industry, they were making strides and improving diversity and inclusion but there were pockets of the organization that were resistant to change. They began holding those managers accountable and asking them to diversify their interview slates and promotion candidates. Just two years later, their organization was much more diverse and inclusive. DEI takes time, but when we layer in accountability it drives behavior change.

Leadership Participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Just as with DEI training, it’s important that leaders are actively involved in at least one employee resource group. If your organization is lucky enough to have several ERGs, it should be easy for managers to gravitate towards a part of their Identity or perhaps an identity that is important to them personally or professionally. They can be an ally to other racial groups, gender identities, sexual orientations or disability groups. 

It’s important for them to be involved as sponsors, mentors and be resources to support those groups that are often not funded well. Often employee resource group leaders are doing that work in addition to their day jobs, and by having leaders involved in the work it takes a lot of that heavy burden off of them. It also gives the leaders insight into the lived experiences of folks that are different from them so that they can empathize better.

Elevating and addressing DEI issues

When leaders tolerate non-inclusive behavior, it’s the same as saying it’s okay. inclusive leaders don’t just elevate issues to human resources or other leaders they address concerns in the moment or circle back to individuals that are behaving not inclusively. Inclusive leaders are familiar with phrases to call people in like:

  • What did you mean when you said that?
  • Help me understand…
  • What makes you think that?
  • What perspective are we missing here?

When leaders are willing to get feedback on their behavior, participate in DEI training, be held accountable for their team’s representation numbers and elevate and address DEI issues, the organization shifts. With each leader leading by example and being more inclusive, the organization will follow and grow more inclusive.


At Next Pivot Point we have lots of resources to help you facilitate successful diversity and inclusion initatives. Schedule some time with our team today to discuss where to start or how to do better. You can also check out: