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DEI IS NOT DEAD: Sustainability for Your Organization Depends on It (Part 2)

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

In my previous post, “DEI IS NOT DEAD – Sustainability for Your Organization Depends on It”, I stated “Make sure you understand the value of DEI in proper context for your business”. Essentially, that is one of the key takeaways from the decision in SFFA because the holding is specific to college admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The holding is as follows: "The Harvard and the UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause.” Therefore, I’m giving more attention to what is meant by my statement in the previous post: “value in proper context of your business".

Value is often interpreted as profitability when it comes to doing business. However, whether the business is for-profit or not-for-profit, value can be realized with DEI programming. Moreover, the risk of not addressing DEI in the workplace, when necessary and/or proper, may result in otherwise avoidable costs. For example, if disparate impacts are occurring in hiring, promotions or other employment decisions due to structural barriers created by policies, processes, practices or procedures and organizations are not proactively reviewing data to identify these types of issues, then there’s a potentially avoidable cost from a future complaint, attrition, low morale/productivity, or a lawsuit. In this instance a DEI strategy with targeted, equitable programming would be appropriate to mitigate the risks. That’s just one example that I see in some of the DEI Audits I conduct. And employment decisions are part of doing business in a for-profit and not-for-profit organization.

Finances also play an instrumental role in the day-to-day operations of both types of entities; and while the not-for-profit has a primary focus of delivering on its purpose, a balance sheet with more expenses than revenue will frustrate that purpose. Therefore, it is in the best interest of both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to manage costs in a way that safeguards revenue. Pulse checks are a way of fostering a healthy DEI culture and ensuring hidden and latent costs are being discovered and mitigated.

A DEI audit can support identification of issues as well as areas of strength – strengths can then be leveraged to boost engagement and yield positive value from DEI efforts. In short, there is duality, of sorts, in the value of DEI, moral and economic—- from a business perspective, however, it is my opinion that both can have an impact on the bottom line, whether in a not-for-profit or for-profit business organization. Understanding the DEI value your organization should target can be found in your DEI data landscape. If assessed appropriately, the data will allow you to create a north star to identify DEI weaknesses and address challenges, as well as leverage strengths and opportunities. More significantly, your organization will be well-equipped with data-driven facts to apply lawfully compliant best practices and proactively meet your DEI needs. One of the key points I share with my clients is this: Lead with the data and your DEI story will follow.

TULIP Advisory Professionals is comprised of employment lawyers, DEI professionals and data & analytics consultants and we are uniquely positioned to create a well-balanced DEI strategy that drives business outcomes and mitigates risks simultaneously. For more information on how TULIP can help your organization proactively navigate today's DEI environment with a strategy that works, email us at Or, give us a call at (678) 990-0910. We look forward to showing you how you can create DEI value for your organization.

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