Blog Post

How Inclusive Succession Planning Advances More Than Just Your DEI Goals

By Megan Pierouchakos and Sarah Crump
August 25, 2023

DEI and HR leaders should be attuned to several significant changes in the current talent landscape that are shaping how organizations attract, manage, retain, and advance their workforce. Changing workforce demographics, heightened employee expectations, and misaligned stakeholder priorities all beg new questions for leaders to consider.

Inclusive succession planning involves identifying and preparing a diverse pool of candidates for senior leadership positions to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. Organizations committed to ensuring leadership is reflective of their workforce demographics and the markets they serve should consider succession planning critically important for meeting those commitments.

Here’s why inclusive succession planning is essential for DEI:

Representation and Role Modeling

Inclusive succession planning ensures that individuals from historically excluded groups can be identified, developed, and promoted to leadership roles. When diverse leaders occupy prominent positions, they serve as role models for others in the organization, inspiring employees from all backgrounds to pursue leadership positions and envision a path for their own career advancement.

Breaking Down Barriers

Many historically excluded groups face barriers to entry and advancement within organizations. Inclusive succession planning actively works to break down these barriers by providing equitable access to development opportunities, mentorship, and career pathways. This helps to address systemic biases and create a more level playing field for all employees.

Cultural Competence and Innovation

Diverse leadership teams bring a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and cultural insights to decision-making processes. This diversity of thought fosters innovative ideas and solutions, which can lead to better problem-solving and strategic planning. Inclusive succession planning ensures that these diverse perspectives are well-represented at the highest levels of the organization.

Improved Employee Engagement and Retention

When employees see that the organization values diversity and is actively working to promote it through succession planning, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and commitment. This can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and retention, as individuals from historically excluded groups see a clear path for their own growth and development within the organization.

Enhanced Organizational Reputation

Organizations that prioritize inclusive succession planning demonstrate their commitment to DEI values not just through rhetoric but through concrete actions. This can enhance the organization’s reputation as an inclusive and equitable employer, attracting top talent from diverse backgrounds and strengthening relationships with clients, customers, and stakeholders who value DEI.

Mitigating Groupthink

Inclusive succession planning helps avoid the pitfalls of groupthink, which can occur when a homogenous leadership team lacks diverse perspectives and makes decisions that are not thoroughly considered. A diverse leadership team, cultivated through inclusive succession planning, is more likely to challenge assumptions and make well-rounded decisions.

Long-Term Sustainability

Inclusive succession planning is an investment in the long-term sustainability of the organization. By developing a diverse pipeline of leaders, the organization ensures continuity in leadership, which can lead to smoother transitions, more stability, and consistent progress toward DEI goals.

Inclusive succession planning actively seeks to identify and prepare individuals from historically excluded groups for leadership roles, creating a more equitable and diverse organizational culture that benefits both employees and the organization. But it’s not only about filling leadership positions. It’s about creating a culture of inclusivity and equity throughout the organization. By intentionally developing and promoting a diverse group of leaders, organizations can foster innovation, improve decision-making, enhance employee engagement, and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

Learn more about the importance of inclusive succession planning and how to implement it at your organization by joining our webinar, Mitigating Barriers to Build Inclusive Leaders Through Inclusive Succession Planning, on September 7th!

Interested in learning more about how Seramount can help you map out your inclusive succession planning strategy through our DEI Research Partnership? Contact us.

About the Authors

Megan Pierouchakos
Megan Pierouchakos
Senior Director, Advisory
sarah headshot
Sarah Crump
Director, Research Development, Advisory