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Areas of Expertise

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

We work with business to drive social justice at the individual and systemic level so people from all backgrounds can thrive. In particular, our program focuses on women’s empowerment, racial justice, and LGBTI equality.

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.


Business Benefits


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

DEI at BSR: Definitions

In the past, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been used interchangeably or associated with compliance-driven, human resource efforts. Today, they are recognized as three distinct tools that form the fundamental building blocks of social justice.

Diversity

Diversity is all the ways in which people differ, including (but not limited to) race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, language, and socioeconomic status.


Equity

Equity is the strategic distribution of resources so that all groups reach comparable outcomes. It is markedly different than equality—which focuses more on inputs, treating all groups the same, and preserving the status quo.


Inclusion

Inclusion is creating environments in which individuals or groups can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. It is a culture of belonging where every person’s voice adds value.


Social Justice

Social Justice is the systemically fair treatment of individuals by society, in which no one’s identity shapes their opportunities or outcomes. Social justice combats systemic or institutional oppression, which produces disparate outcomes based on identity (ex. wealth gap). Specific subsets of social justice focus on particular identities, such as racial justice’s focus on people of color.



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:

Act

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.

Enable

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.

Influence

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.


Our Services

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

Our Insights on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

The Corporate Rainbow: Going beyond Pride Celebrations and Creating Lasting Impact

Blog

The Corporate Rainbow: Going beyond Pride Celebrations and Creating Lasting Impact

How can companies combat performative allyship and rainbow-washing? We share ways to support the LGBTQ+ community that create long-lasting impact.

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LGBTI Inclusion in Action: Q&A with Dominic Cole-Morgan of Scotiabank

Blog

LGBTI Inclusion in Action: Q&A with Dominic Cole-Morgan of Scotiabank

Business can help advance LGBTI equality and create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. This includes Scotiabank, which recently announced a significant expansion of gender affirmation benefits for employees and their families. To kick off Pride Month, we connected with Dominic Cole-Morgan, Senior Vice President, Total Rewards, Global Human Resources at Scotiabank to discuss the recent announcement and Scotiabank's broad commitment to human rights.

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Modernizing the Social Contract in 2021: Five Developments for Business to Consider

Blog

Modernizing the Social Contract in 2021: Five Developments for Business to Consider

COVID-19 has shown—in a tragic way—how interconnected the world is. All the events of the past year and a half have also reinforced and deepened the urgent need to redefine the social contract and the key role business must play in that effort.

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Beyond #StopAsianHate: Building an AAPI-Inclusive Workplace Culture

Blog

Beyond #StopAsianHate: Building an AAPI-Inclusive Workplace Culture

As the U.S. celebrates AAPI Heritage Month this May, there is an opportunity for business leaders to learn more about the AAPI experience and help to build a more just, sustainable, and inclusive world—beginning in the workplace.

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Leading with Equity: How Companies Can Promote Social Justice through DEI

Blog

Leading with Equity: How Companies Can Promote Social Justice through DEI

L. Simone Washington, BSR's Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), shares four takeaways for companies on shaping a more inclusive world where all people have fair access to opportunities and activities to improve their lives.

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To Combat Systemic Discrimination, Companies Need to Acknowledge Their Role

Blog

To Combat Systemic Discrimination, Companies Need to Acknowledge Their Role

How can companies play a role in tackling systemic racism and discrimination?

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Why Company Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs Need Intersectional Approaches

Blog

Why Company Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs Need Intersectional Approaches

As more and more companies develop, enact, and expand women’s empowerment and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, business needs to understand women’s diverse and distinct experiences and undertake an intersectional approach.

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Climate Justice: How Business Climate Action Can Reduce Environmental Racism

Blog

Climate Justice: How Business Climate Action Can Reduce Environmental Racism

This year’s COVID-19 crisis and racial justice movement have highlighted the systemic inequities in the U.S. and revealed how crises disproportionately affect certain populations. Business has an important role to play in helping to bring climate justice and racial equity front and center while shifting the finance for the energy transition.

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See All Insights

Collaborative Initiatives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Global Impact Sourcing Coalition

Global Impact Sourcing Coalition

A forum of the world's leading companies committed to incorporate and scale impact sourcing as a business strategy—ending poverty through procurement.

Read More 


HERproject™

HERproject™

Unlocking the full potential of women working in global supply chains through workplace programs promoting health, financial inclusion, and gender equality

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Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality

Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality

A coalition of organizations committed to leveraging their individual and collective advocacy to accelerate LGBTI equality and inclusion globally and drive positive change.

Read More 



See all Collaborative Initiatives

Meet the Team

San Francisco


Jessica Custer

Jessica Custer

Associate Director

San Francisco


New York


Kelly Gallo

Kelly Gallo

Associate Director

San Francisco


Copenhagen


San Francisco


Paris


Victoria Reca

Victoria Reca

Manager, Women's Empowerment

Paris


Hong Kong


New York


Annelise Thim

Annelise Thim

Associate Director

New York


L. Simone Washington

L. Simone Washington

Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

New York



Talk to Us  
Contact the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team with any questions.