Survey of Top Black Executives in Corporate America Reveals Current State of DEI

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– While strongly pointing to areas for business improvement, nearly 75% rate their companies’ commitment to DEI as strong, with 64% indicating their companies are reaffirming or maintaining DEI commitments despite anti-DEI pressure.

– Executives who ranked their organizations as strong DEI performers credit their CEOs with driving and supporting DEI strategy tied to business goals and report high levels of job satisfaction.

June 5, 2024 – WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid the rising tension and legal challenges against diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, a new survey by The Executive Leadership Council (ELC) reveals a resilient commitment to business enhancing DEI among top Black executives. This survey exclusively engaged top Black executives, providing invaluable insights into the priorities and strategies that should guide DEI efforts.

The survey, released during The ELC’s annual Summer Member Meeting, identified the best ways to improve DEI across Corporate America.  In addition to maintaining or increasing ethnic diversity at all levels of leadership and management, three main themes emerged as the most effective approaches for companies moving forward:

  • Treat DEI like other known business drivers in companies.
  • Instill clear measurement mechanisms to determine and reinforce which DEI strategies work best to drive business outcomes.
  • Remain steadfast in support of DEI to grow the business even as anti-DEI fervor increases.

Understanding today’s environment, nearly three-quarters (72%) of ELC member respondents felt their companies’ commitment to DEI was very or moderately strong with the remaining 28% rating their companies’ commitment as either average or basic. Additionally, 36% reported a reduction in vocal support for DEI at their organizations.

Notably, the survey reveals a direct correlation between those who report both strong DEI initiatives and high rates of job satisfaction, with more than a third having been at their companies for over ten years.

“Through our members’ own experiences, we are learning that unequivocally, companies that double down on the most effective and proven DEI programs are creating a workforce that is more engaged and motivated, which naturally leads to enhanced business performance,” said The ELC President and CEO Michael C Hyter.

Key Findings:

CEO Leadership Crucial for DEI Success: 73% of respondents who rate their companies as strong DEI performers credit their CEOs with driving DEI strategy. Middle management and below benefit from regular communication from the CEO reinforcing the link between DEI initiatives and achievement of corporate business goals.

Impact on Job Satisfaction: Those who reported strong DEI practices also noted job satisfaction, a strong corporate reputation, clearly defined role responsibilities, alignment to company mission and values, opportunities for growth, and equitable compensation in their responses.

Primary Drivers for DEI Goals: Respondents felt that enabling superior business performance, providing equivalent access and opportunity for everyone – being mindful of diverse talent, and strengthening corporate culture through an environment that enhances engagement should lead a company’s DEI efforts.

“We trust that leaders across Corporate America will leverage the insights presented in this report and incorporate them into their decision-making,” said Gale V. King, Chair of the Board at The Executive Leadership Council. “The ELC stands ready to support companies and CEOs who remain committed to DEI as a strategic business imperative.”

Survey Demographics

The survey gathered responses from 180 top Black executives spanning various industries and sectors. Among them, 61% identify as C-Suite executives and 12% as Board members. The respondents have a varied tenure, with 55% having been at their companies for between one to nine years and 37% for ten years or more. Approximately two out of three (67%) work at companies with over 10,000 employees.

Read more information on The ELC Special Report: Insights and Advice on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Top Black Executives in Corporate America.

About The Executive Leadership Council

The Executive Leadership Council opens channels of opportunity for the development of Black executives to positively impact business and our communities. An independent non-profit 501(c)(3) founded in 1986, The ELC is the pre-eminent membership organization committed to increasing the number of global Black executives in C-Suites, on corporate boards, and in global enterprises. Comprising nearly 800 current and former Black CEOs, senior executives, and board directors at Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies, and entrepreneurs at top-tier firms, its members work to build an inclusive business leadership pipeline that empowers global Black leaders to make impactful contributions to the marketplace and the global communities they serve.

Read more about our study here.

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