In terms of positive outcomes, the study found that 83% of organizations say they have accelerated their DE&I efforts in the last 12 months, 43% of them significantly.
The study found that these increased efforts have been fueled and maintained by external events, including social unrest and pressure from employees to address racial inequities and injustice.
Boards, CEOs, and their executive teams have been driving the change. Their motivation to act was further accelerated by the rising expectations around sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments.
When considering areas where improvement in DE&I efforts are needed, the survey points to further integrating DE&I across the organization’s talent and business initiatives.
The study found that only 43% of organizations focus on developing equitable talent processes; 31% are starting to integrate DE&I into select business processes like R&D and Marketing; and only 32% say they purposely create diverse and inclusive teams to improve performance.
“Companies are focusing on the basics: managing risk from litigation, celebratory events and raising awareness through initiatives like unconscious bias training,” said Alina Polonskaia, Global Leader of Korn Ferry’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practice. “There’s nothing inherently wrong in these practices—they’re a useful starting point—but they’re not enough. Companies need move faster to the next levels of their DE&I maturity and focus both on structural and behavioral changes to drive meaningful progress.”
Seventy-one percent of respondents believe that their biggest DE&I challenge is recruiting underrepresented talent into the organization. Only 52% see retaining their underrepresented talent as a key challenge.
“A heavy focus on recruitment alone can create a ‘revolving door’ effect – getting plenty of people in the door but not ensuring they stay and move up,” said Polonskaia. “That’s the inclusiveness and equity part of the puzzle, and it is essential. Otherwise, organizations are wasting their DE&I efforts and budget.”