Diving brief:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion goals are best achieved by keeping core values ​​in mind, according to new research published in the MIT Sloan management journal. US Army DEI Chief Anselm A. Beach and Albert H. Segars, professor of business at UNC Chapel Hill unveiled their Values/Principles Model (VPM) on June 7.
  • The four values ​​are Representation (speaking on behalf of marginalized people, similar to the covenant), Participation (meaningful action in organizational activities), Application (putting DEI principles to work), and Appreciation ( recognition and enjoyment of DEI benefits).
  • The study is the result of interviews with 55 executives, 33 middle managers, and 73 team members about DEI’s goals and effective methods of achieving them. Analysis of the interviews resulted in what the pair saw as an effective route to the Guiding Principles.

Overview of the dive:

VPM has seven principles. This includes “voluntary questioning”, engaging in candid discussions about privilege and identity, to develop new “mental models”. These last sentences, Segars and Beach explain, encompass a person’s worldview or rationale for how systems work in the world. “Organizations have mental models that explain the reasons behind organizational structures, processes, rules and systems. They require attention because they can perpetuate racism, exclusion and inequality, even if people working within these flawed structures believe in DEI,” the researchers reported.

Beach and Segars encouraged CEOs and business leaders to be ambitious, stretch their boundaries (i.e. be transparent about DEI in a public manner), and embrace entrepreneurial leadership qualities when it’s about solving problems for DEI.

But perhaps one of the most notable principles mentioned is to build a moral record. That is to say: ditch “DEI’s Business Case” conversation, which, according to the MIT Sloan report, is extremely common. “…DEI should not be driven primarily by profit. Business cases have legitimized exploitative actions throughout history,” they write. “Choosing to build DEI because it is the right thing to do. Integrate DEI into the collective mission.

Increasingly, the voices of experts who want to push the HR industry further are being heard when it comes to going beyond the business case. Notably, a DEI training expert once told HR Dive that business leaders need to feel the DEI imperative on an “emotional level, not just at the business case level.” Leaders need to feel a sense of ownership of their company’s goals and, in turn, inspire a sense of urgency among their people.

“There is a moral case for DEI that centers on meeting the needs of people and society and achieving honorable profit by ending the exploitation of people and the environment,” the researchers continued. . “Presenting the moral case – saying DEI is right and wearing it on your sleeve – signals that the work of achieving transformational change is rooted in values ​​deeply embedded in the organization and not subject to changes in business conditions.”

The report contains an example of what increased inclusion and equity looks like and the benefits that come with it. Beach and Segars described how Marvel Comics increased diversity and inclusion “by introducing ethnic minority characters into roles traditionally held by white characters”. They nod to Sam Wilson, formerly the Falcon and now canonically Captain America, and Miles Morales, the Afro-Latinx Spider-Man.

“When Marvel created new characters with logical and compelling stories, the result was transformative. Readers saw themselves in the characters, and those characters created opportunities for new storylines,” they wrote. HR who embrace DEI’s moral case can elevate workers and celebrate real progress in accountability.


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