How a Values-Based Approach Advances DEI

A new model for developing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization can increase employee satisfaction.

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Camille Chisholm/

Many business leaders see diversity, equity, and inclusion as a way to revitalize their organizations. They understand that diversity drives innovation, and they see the potential for engaging the entire workforce in transforming their companies. But they also find that the results of their DEI efforts sometimes fall short of expectations.

Perhaps these efforts are clumsy due to unclear objectives or a lack of know-how. Business leaders may not approach DEI with the same ambition, creativity, and energy that they bring to launching new products or pioneering new markets. Furthermore, some people may not consider a lack of DEI to be holding the organization back — or, if they do, they think it’s not their problem to solve. Meanwhile, experts propose interventions that purport to offer quick fixes to workplaces that have been shaped over decades. No wonder leaders become fatigued: They are uncertain about what to do, and it can be difficult to cut through the noise.

Clearly, leaders need approaches that frame DEI as an opportunity for their entire organization and provide an avenue for all members to meaningfully engage in it. Through surveys and field studies of companies that have demonstrated significant progress toward DEI, we have identified such an approach: the Values/Principles Model, or VPM. The model is based on four values — representation, participation, application, and appreciation — along with seven guiding principles that drive the achievement of the values. The VPM provides a structured and measurable framework for transforming the workplace through DEI. (See “The Research Behind the Values/Principles Model.”)



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