6 Tips to Hold Leaders and Managers Accountable for Building A D&I Environment

Jay Mava / Published September 29, 2020

Boss Leading A Meeting

Hold Management Accountable For Diversity & Inclusion In The Workplace


Building a diverse and inclusive environment begins when all leaders and managers are on board. Their commitment is essential in sustaining this positive culture change in the long run.

In fact, it is the leaders’ job to educate and empower the rest of the team.


With this in mind, what is the best way for you hold leaders and managers accountable for building a D&I environment? Keep these 6 tips in mind during your diversity initiative:



Tip #1: Proper Training


One very important factor when building a D&I environment is proper training of leaders and managers. Being equipped to work with people of all types is necessary for building a successfully inclusive organization.

Management must remove all unconscious biases in both the workplace and the hiring process. Even if they are unaware that these biases exist – quite often they do.

So, what is the best way to approach this?


Quite often managers receive their own specialized diversity training separate from the rest of the workplace. Which is why this training should be approached a very specific way.

When training feels targeted toward management, some managers will surely feel like they are doing something wrong.

Instead of feeling aimed at managers, this training should be looked at as an opportunity to grow and without shame.


Studies show that voluntary training yields the least resistance from management and generates the best results. When encouraged to participate, instead of training being mandatory, managers were much more pro-diversity.

A number of organizations have seen more positive long-term results when control is not used. This is because many people are resistant to change when they are forced into it. Evidence shows that forcing leaders to show up can have adverse effects.

Therefore, the evidence shows that the solution is to ask for their help and support in recruiting more diverse applicants. Remind them of the benefits that D&I can have for the entire company and how the organization will thrive as a whole.



To get the best results out of diversity training, studies show that awareness building and skills building are the most effective training programs when combined together.

It’s essential for management to see things through another perspective, but developing practical skills is equally as important.

Encourage leaders to come up with a solution to a problem, and help them understand people from different backgrounds, while still holding them accountable for the change.


Another important piece of training is identifying and removing any pre-existing bias leaders have, whether it be unconscious or not. It’s important to realize that we all have stereotypes embedded in our brain, and it’s nothing to be shamed for.

Acknowledging this bias is the first step in a more inclusive environment, so management should be open to this.


Managers should also be trained on communicating and receiving feedback from employees and their peers. Executives and CEOs should provide them with the training to develop an effective system for measuring D&I.

Then the managers must understand how they will be held accountable for achieving the expected results.


Another great idea is for employees to request mentorship programs from leaders. Evidence from a Cornell University study proves that this is the most effective for boosting diversity in the workplace.

Not only is mentorship great for diversity, but it also boosts retention and promotion rates of minorities by 15-38%. This is clearly a win for both leaders and employees.

With that being said, it’s important to assess personalities of both the mentor and the mentee. Find out if your organization already has mentors in place and what their program looks like. Some senior level executives already provide leadership coaching and workshops for mentees. 



Even though you are requesting the mentorship from an executive level, it’s important to enlist the help of managers to supervise the programs. This is a great way to include managers and ensure that they are held accountable as well. A true D&I culture requires the entire company getting on board and staying engaged.



Tip #2: Anonymous Feedback Surveys


Once management has completed their D&I training, it’s important to collect feedback. This can be done via anonymous survey, which will encourage them to be more open about the experience. 

Since results do not happen overnight, successful D&I management training should always be ongoing. For this reason, feedback should be collected periodically to measure the ongoing effects of D&I in the workplace.   Management’s feedback will allow the company to evaluate the training program and its effectiveness. This will tell executives what’s working and what’s not, and they can adjust the training programs accordingly.



It’s equally as important to collect feedback from employees to hold leaders accountable.

A company may consider creating the survey themselves, but it’s always better to go with an expert. Even if the organization is trying to save money, there are a lot of cheap but effective options.

This is a great survey created by D&I experts that will help uncover the employees’ sense of belonging in the workplace. The survey will also determine if there are perceptions of unfair reasons for promotion within the organization.

Managers and executives need to be aware of these perceptions in order to make a change. Suggest using these tools to provide insight from your company’s D&I initiative.  

Tip #3: Setting Goals and Measuring Success


As we mentioned before, managers should be held accountable for the company’s D&I goals being met. After receiving their training, managers should each set an attainable goal. These D&I goals should always be in alignment with the company’s overall mission.



There also has to be a concrete way to measure the success of these goals, which is why many companies have started using Diversity Scorecards. This is a great idea to measure the actual progress of the diversity efforts within the entire organization.

Traditionally, these scorecards have been used to measure mainly gender diversity, but they have since evolved.

Now they are used to measure diversity between all employees, including LGBTQ+, disabled and racially diverse employees. Studies show that these scorecards can even promote equal pay between female and male employees. 

Unfortunately, many leaders talk about building a D&I environment but fail to create results.

That’s why the best way to truly hold managers accountable is by asking them to set a goal and then measure its success. These diversity scorecards provide concrete evidence of the progress being made.



Tip #4: Direct Feedback Between Managers and Peers


As part of the D&I training that we mentioned earlier, managers should have been trained on receiving direct feedback from employees.

This is important in assessing the effectiveness of the inclusion efforts. By encouraging verbal feedback between managers and employees, it creates a more open, trusting environment.

Managers should encourage employees to ask the hard questions that will challenge their culture and always be accepting of what they have to say. If one employee notices something occurring that discourages diversity, they should feel comfortable speaking out about it.


On the other hand, managers are also encouraged to give feedback when they notice tendencies for bias from their own peers. People are not always aware of their own biased thoughts at the time unless it is pointed out to them by a peer.

It must be done so in a sensitive manner but holding each other accountable will help improve the work environment.


Tip #5: Propose A Standardized Review Process


Another way to hold leaders accountable in building a D&I environment is proposing a standardized review process for promotions. Without even knowing it, bias can affect the decision-making process.

And unfortunately, even leaders with the best intentions are not exempt.

A standardized review will help remove bias that influences promotion decisions. This will allow employees from diverse backgrounds to be considered for promotion if they are deserving, above all other reasons.



Executives can create this fair review process by making decisions based on data, rather than instinct. This requires leaders to identify the skills and characteristics that candidates need ahead of time. Employees should be nominated from across the organization.

When considering these candidates for promotion, management should assess a variety of factors. This includes performance, experience, and possible goals to move up within the company in the future.



Many businesses will then conduct assessments to review each employee’s competencies. Common assessments consist of a personality test, motivation assessment and reasoning tests. This step is important for management to take a data-driven approach.

Leaders can then conduct individual reviews with each employee to find out if they have aspirations to stay with the company in the long term. This will help them better assess each candidate for the promotion.



By analyzing all of this data from each review, management can then find the best fit for the company in the fairest way possible. This creates equal opportunity for advancement and allows every employee to be eligible for promotion with hard work.

Your organization leaders can then promote the right candidate, with any favoritism or bias removed. This idea for equal opportunity in promotion makes the environment much more appealing to diverse applicants.



Tip #6: Ask Leaders and Executives to Lead by Example


It’s easy to talk about and promote D&I, but leaders should always be willing to lead by example. It is their job to make everyone feel welcome in the organization. Any bias or prejudice needs to be overcome, especially by leaders in a position of power.

You can hold them accountable for this by asking them to provide concrete examples of what they have done or are trying to do in terms of D&I. If they are actually making efforts to improve the D&I of the workplace, they will be able to provide you with examples.

They might inform you that they are doing things like attending internal D&I meetings or making an effort to use inclusive language.

Or perhaps a leader involved in the recruitment process has altered the company’s job descriptions to be more gender neutral.

You can even suggest they do this by utilizing a Gender Decoder that gets rid of masculine favoring language. Job ads geared toward men can put a lot of women off in the hiring process and result in less gender-diverse applicants.

Or perhaps the leaders within your organization are doing their part by sponsoring Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within the company. This would be a strong example because of the huge D&I benefits ERGs provide to both employees and the business.

If an executive is sponsoring an ERG, it shows their true commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Regardless of the examples they provide, leaders and executives should be able to show some form of concrete evidence that they are taking steps to build a diverse and inclusive environment.

And if they do not yet have any concrete examples, maybe they at least have ideas in mind. This initiative has to start with them setting an example for the rest of the team.


Everyone must be committed


A successful D&I environment begins with executives, is implemented by managers, and taught to employees.

Everyone must be committed for an organization to successfully build and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment.

These are just some tips to use to your advantage to help hold leaders and managers accountable at your organization. Use them to your advantage to assess whether the leaders within your organization are doing their part.


Stay tuned for our upcoming tips all about diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace.


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