Listen, Endorse, Act: Key Insights From The Diversity & Inclusion Conference

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Listen, Endorse, Act: Key Insights From The Diversity & Inclusion Conference

How can firms create a culture of inclusivity where all employees feel respected and valued? How can senior leaders help pioneer diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives? How can we meaningfully measure impact? These were just some of the questions discussed at the Diversity & Inclusion Conference in April 2023, during which experts and leaders shared their insights on and experiences of creating inclusive workplaces. Verdantix attended the conference and gained new understanding of what counts for DE&I:

  1. Employee engagement is essential for meaningful DE&I.

    Several of the speakers highlighted the importance of grassroots DE&I initiatives for building momentum and driving change. Employees ought to be involved in designing DE&I programmes because, in many cases, they are the best placed to find solutions. Crowd-sourcing ideas through employee resource groups (ERGs) is crucial to build trust and propel innovation; one of the speakers referred to this as “co-creation rather than consultation”. In a similar vein, action plans are key to ensuring accountability whilst empowering employees to take responsibility and play a role in operationalizing their firm’s DE&I strategy.

  2. Executive buy-in is crucial to the success of DE&I initiatives.

    While grassroots collaboration is vital to build DE&I capabilities, these efforts must be accompanied by executive support — a combination of bottom-up and top-down is the most effective approach. Several of the speakers raised concerns that individuals with lived experiences of DE&I issues are often solely responsible for ‘making things right’. To avoid this, senior executives need to champion and be involved with DE&I networks. Not only does executive buy-in help to raise awareness, but it also creates a culture of honesty and openness that empowers employees to share their experiences and enhances their sense of psychological safety at work.

  3. Making informed decisions and driving progress requires data.
    Successful DE&I initiatives rely on data, and lots of it. Data are needed to help answer questions such as: where are candidates falling out of the recruitment process? Are biases permeating performance evaluation processes? Which DE&I initiatives should be prioritized now, versus in 6 months’ time? This kind of information is also key to help determine the business case for investment in DE&I, as well as the level of investment required. But DE&I data is inherently challenging to collect, measure, analyse and operationalize. It is sensitive information, it is multi-faceted and intersectional, and factors such as inclusion and experience are incredibly difficult to quantify. We unpack many of these challenges and explore solutions in Verdantix Smart Innovators: Social Impact Solutions.


It was clear from the conference that progress is being made, as demonstrated by the many encouraging stories shared by the speakers, panellists and audience members. And yet there is still some way to go. In Verdantix Market Overview: 10 Predictions For ESG & Sustainability In 2023, we predicted that firms will be under considerable pressure to demonstrate their commitment to DE&I in 2023 and, as such, will need to develop a strategic approach that links data, measurable goals and outcomes. Ultimately, this will increase demand for both internal and external DE&I expertise. From our perspective, the burgeoning social impact software and services market will be key to ensuring the success of DE&I initiatives and driving meaningful change.

Lily Turnbull

Industry Analyst

Lily is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix ESG & Sustainability practice. Her current research agenda focusses on supply chain sustainability and integrating ESG into financial disclosures.  Prior to joining Verdantix, Lily worked on various social impact projects before joining a tech company focussed on ESG risk management. Lily holds an MSc in Women, Peace & Security from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Theology & Religion from the University of Bristol.