Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Overview
About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
DEI is essential to the achievement of a just and sustainable world. To build resilient and sustainable business strategies, companies must understand how power, privilege, and history have impacted people differently. To address deep disparities and systemic challenges, BSR believes companies need to examine failures of whole systems, identify tangible opportunities to improve their own diversity efforts, and rebuild equitable structures at both the individual and system level. This will take new approaches that move beyond diversity, equity, and inclusion as primarily compliance-driven efforts and transform these tools into strategic drivers to achieve social justice.
To that end, BSR is building on its expertise and experience on economic inclusion, human rights, and women’s empowerment to create a DEI program. These perspectives will be integrated across all of six BSR areas of expertise; each program area will develop unique priorities and approaches.
Mounting calls for business to address the needs of stakeholders, and not merely shareholders, reflect concerns about the role of business in society and its contribution to ongoing systemic barriers for diverse populations. Companies stand to benefit tremendously from strategic approaches to DEI, including:
- Talent attraction and retention
- New business relationships
- Innovative product and service development
- Enhanced governance and decision-making
- Responding to stakeholder interests
Our Ambition for Companies
BSR works with companies on DEI by providing a range of services in line with BSR’s Act, Enable, Influence framework:
Companies can act within their own boundaries.
Including: diversity recruitment, retention, and employee development; data transparency; pay equity and paying living wages; cultural competency training; governance and decision-making, such as diversifying Boards and executive teams; due diligence, especially integrating racial justice, women’s empowerment, and LGBTI rights into human rights due diligence, or racial equity impact assessments.
Companies can partner with others to extend their opportunities for impact.
Including: investing in businesses, suppliers, and nonprofits owned and led by people of color, women, and the LGBTI community; building relationships and strategic partnerships with civil society and community organizations working on racial justice, LGBTI rights, and women’s empowerment issues; reviewing the relationship between product development and DEI, such as (1) the type of products developed and how they are developed, and (2) who products are/are not developed for or sold to; sharing best practices on policy, process, and performance to enable improved decision-making by others.
Companies should use their voice to influence systemic and institutional discrimination and injustice.
Including: integrating racial justice, LGBTI rights, and women’s empowerment more deliberately into public policy and government affairs activities; initiating or joining industry or multi-stakeholder collaboration and collective action efforts; holding peers and their leaders accountable to upholding DEI principles; funding and expressing support for organizations working on DEI issues, such as those promoting criminal legal system reform.
BSR works with our member companies to develop DEI strategies and assessments that are globally relevant and encompass entire company value chains.
In that respect, BSR offers companies:
- DEI impact assessments, with a focus (where relevant) on a specific identity such as gender lens or racial equity assessments
- Strategy development, including guidance on how to develop holistic DEI approaches that address individual company and system-wide change
- Stakeholder engagement, input from leading DEI organizations on strategy and programs
- Guidance on how to embed DEI in governance and management, including advice on how to better embed DEI into decision making and day-to-day operations at companies.
- Best practices for reporting and transparency, including recommendations on key metrics and narratives to ensure companies are effectively communicating activities, impact, and progress