Blog Post

Most Organizations’ DEI Talent Strategies Are Failing—Yours Doesn’t Have To

By Laura Sherbin,Rumbi Petrozzello and Zsofia Duarte
May 15, 2023

Since the murder of George Floyd in 2020, organizations have given diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) increased attention in the form of public statements, budget adjustments, and monetary investments. Many organizational leaders seem genuinely disheartened by domestic and international inequities and personally moved to investigate and remedy those present in their workplaces, and this often leads to quickly throwing money—at times up to millions—at DEI challenges.

Seramount’s recent insight paper, “Most Organizations’ DEI Talent Strategies Are Failing—Yours Doesn’t Have To,” explains the impact of reactionary, “selective” talent strategies and the importance of employee listening to create a successful, “informed” strategy.

A selective strategy is defined as one that is reactively offering DEI programs
and initiatives without first capturing the right data to drive meaningful change. An informed strategy proactively targets efforts to meaningfully enhance employees’ experiences and well-being through known drivers.

Three Pillars That Define and Advance an Informed Talent Strategy

For effective and long-term progress on DEI talent objectives, organizations must leverage best practice research AND listen to their employees. By listening to employees to identify root causes, organizations can develop an informed talent strategy, where employee insights inform what talent best practices to deploy in your organization.

We’ve identified three pillars that define and advance an informed talent strategy: strategic objectives-led, leadership-led, and culturally embedded. Best practice talent strategies are informed by strategic objectives (rather than hypothesized needs) and are cascaded to all business function leaders to be leadership-led and then scaled to become an organization-wide, culturally embedded business imperative.

The Five Stages of Talent Strategy Maturity

Consistent use of a maturity model can equip you to continuously and carefully map where you are and where you need to go. Regardless of which stage you are in, knowing where you are in your DEI maturity can help you focus and streamline your plan forward. Even if you are at a more advanced stage of maturity, true DEI commitment necessitates constant reassessment as the world, your organization, and the employee experience all inevitably grow and change.

Seramount experts have developed an effective Talent Strategy DEI Maturity Model that we successfully leverage with partners to help them understand where they are and where and how they need to move to strategically advance their DEI talent objectives to improve their employees’ experiences. We have identified five stages of maturity that rest under two strategic approaches: selective strategy and informed strategy. Stages one and two fall under selective strategy, and stages three, four, and five are considered within an informed strategy.

  • Selective Strategy:
    • Stage 1: Risk-Driven—Efforts meet the minimal requirements to be legally compliant.
    • Stage 2: Initiative-Driven—Programmatic solutions or initiatives rise from immediate or perceived need either among leaders or employee groups.
  • Informed Strategy:
    • Stage 3: Strategic Objectives-Led—DEI programs and solutions are strategically focused on making progress on a defined set of known drivers of employee success. 
    • Stage 4: Leadership-Led—Aligned leaders drive progress on a defined set of known drivers of employee success in coordination with DEI programming.
    • Stage 5: Culturally Embedded—The organization’s systems and culture (values, attitudes, and beliefs) create an inclusive and equitable work environment for all. 

Download our insight paper, Most Organizations’ DEI Talent Strategies Are Failing—Yours Doesn’t Have To, to learn more about our DEI maturity model and how your organization’s DEI talent strategy can mature into an informed strategy.

Interested in learning more about Seramount’s Assess360 and how we can help you design and maintain an inclusive employee experience? Contact us.

About the Authors

Laura Sherbin
Managing Director, Consulting
Rumbi Petrozzello
Senior Director, Head of Strategy, Consulting
Zsofia Duarte
Associate Director, Consulting & Learning