State of the Union…. Diversity & Inclusion?



Here we are again, listening to top leaders of the government in both the federal and the state governments share their visions for new year.



After digesting President Obama’s State of the Union address, I must admit, I was moved and it sounded so much like the junior senator seven years ago who had a dream. I am not going to analyze the president’s address, but I do want to reference some of the similarities to the State of Diversity and Inclusion today.

So when we think of the promise of social justice to treat all people fairly, we then expect equitable access to safety and to all things that will provide a better life. Isn’t this the foundation of diversity and inclusion? The reference to ‘all’ means diversity of people and all of the dimensions that comes with it. The mention of ‘equitable access and treated fairly’ is referencing inclusion. Yet, when thinking of social justice, diversity and inclusion is absent. What is the fundamental element we are missing?

Social justice in our communities and diversity and inclusion in the workplace can no longer be separate, because they absolutely must coexist. It is borderline hypocrisy to claim one over the other. Our union is diverse so it must become inclusive. Our workplace strives to be diverse and is making gains to be inclusive. However the reality is that, while the intent is there, we are experiencing so much pain and suffering in our communities that no one wants full accountability. I believe that accountability belongs with everyone at every level.

So what is the true state of diversity? I will share a perspective with you based on data from DMBAs inclusive diversity index and from Nielsen’s diverse intelligence series.
• 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a diversity lead; and 95 percent of companies that participate in the DMBA ILI have a diversity executive;
• 80 percent of companies have a corporate diversity strategy that is aligned with the business strategy;
• 83 percent of CEOs engage their board in diversity and inclusion strategy;
• 35 percent of CEOs are actively engaged with employees in supporting execution of diversity and inclusion activities;
• 64 percent of companies have a formal supplier diversity program with an average spend of 5 percent supporting certified small businesses.
• 27 percent of CEOs engage in community supporting social justice;
• According to Nielsen, the majority of the nation’s population will be diverse by 2020;
• According to Nielsen, diverse populations are leading in consumer spending, thus significantly contributing to the economy. (See

So DMBA has provided a view from the top of diversity and inclusion elements required to deploy a successful journey. Commitment from the very top is not a nice thing to have, but a necessary business imperative. Nielsen’s data document the shift in the population and shows why it is necessary for business success to have a comprehensive D&I strategy.

Where there are gaps in deploying your strategy, there are opportunities to encourage change and build the cultures within your companies.

  • Dr. Marilyn Clark

    I agree that social justice, diversity, and inclusion are brother and sister to the fabric of our country. However, I respectfully ask, “Where’s the beef?” Show how the high percentage of “strategies” are being operationalize and implemented in a corporate structure. Show the percentages that evaluates the efficiencies of the strategy. So think about it this way. If 64 percent of companies have a formal supplier diversity program with an average spend of 5 percent, supporting certified small businesses, wake me up when the spend percentage is 40 to 45 percent. I’ll probably have quite a long nap.

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