In the past couple of years, multinational corporations have invested more than US$210 billion in DEI initiatives, according to Deloitte. As these efforts expand, we see robust frameworks like the EU Platform of Diversity Charters, launched by the European Commission a decade ago, continuing to gain traction. This platform has gathered over 12,000 signatories—among them, 356 are from Austria and 3,500 from Germany—committing to an inclusive work environment for their employees across diverse backgrounds, including gender, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation. Discussing the current landscape, we connected with Elizabeth Anderson, an expert DEI consultant and part of the Impact Hub Community.
Establishing the foundations for DEI
“Inclusion is taking a perspective that’s different from yours and allowing it to affect an outcome,” shares Elizabeth, an expert in developing and implementing DEI strategies and frameworks for companies. Currently, she is the CEO of Venn DEI, where she offers services to companies on DEI topics such as Assessment and reporting, Training and workshops, Strategy, Policy, Process, and Branding and storytelling. Her experience includes creating anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies that address consent and power dynamics, and provide guidelines on acceptable behavior.
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Elizabeth firmly believes in the power of policy: “A solid, zero-tolerance policy that is repeated and clearly communicated—a living, breathing anti-harassment, non-discrimination policy—is the bedrock. You need to have that before creating a strategy because the topic is a hot button and the conversation itself can lead to bullying,” she explains. These policies not only foster a culture of inclusivity but can also enhance a company’s brand appeal. Investors today factor in ESG metrics, and well-crafted policies can be instrumental for fundraising. “But policies shouldn’t be static documents; they should be living guidelines that are frequently communicated and adapted. This active approach to DEI ensures clarity and consistency.”
Uncomplicated communication is vital
Clear communication is vital, Elizabeth points out. Misunderstandings can easily arise when meanings get lost in translation. Hence, establishing a common DEI language is essential to align everyone, fostering a culture where all individuals feel valued, heard, and empowered. In this sense, internal communication arises as an important tool. “This is something I think we need to do also within the DEI community at large: What does DEI mean in Europe, the US, Africa, East Asia, and so on? What are the key factors to look at in each of these regions?” Elizabeth reflection questions will gain relevance as more investment in DEI initiatives is done.