DEI Initiatives Often Fail – New Research Guide From McLean & Company Positioned to Help Organizations Overcome Obstacles

At a time when inclusion initiatives are at the forefront of organizational objectives, McLean & Company, one of the world’s leading HR research and advisory firms, has released its newest resource, Guide to Using Self-identification Questions Respectfully in HR. This research-backed guide was designed to help HR leaders adopt an inclusive lens when creating self-identification options and develop an ethical framework to guide the use and storage of sensitive employee information.

“Gathering and understanding the many traits that come together to make each person unique as it applies to an organization’s workforce enables the advancement of DEI and other HR goals,” says Obie Odunukwe, director of HR Research & Advisory with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) services at McLean & Company. “Due to the sensitivity surrounding demographic data, organizational requests for personal information require an intentional approach to ensure inclusiveness and safety of participants.”

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Though DEI has been a trending topic in the business world in recent years, it is still an area in which many organizations and their leaders struggle. In a joint 2021 report from SHRM, Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, and Trusaic, 67% of respondents said “their organization was, at best, only somewhat successful at creating a workplace that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”

Odunukwe continues: “A majority of DEI and HR initiatives created to support specific demographics only have partial success rates. This is both unacceptable and understandable, considering the obstacles organizations face when creating self-identification practices.”

McLean & Company’s Guide to Using Self-identification Questions Respectfully in HR breaks down the three categories of identity traits – inherent traits, acquired traits, and organizational acquired traits – to better assist leaders in understanding the role of identity traits in employee surveys. The guide also helps to establish the diversity traits that need to be captured and measured to further DEI and HR efforts and communicate data expectations and ethics. It provides a selection of sample identification questions that can be used to inform a self-identification survey.

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“A shared challenge is a lack of prescriptive research on how to address the many competing considerations, such as legal, social, psychological safety and trust, when collecting, storing, and using sensitive employee information to progress DEI goals,” Odunukwe adds: “Depending on the level of tolerance, organizations may avoid this exercise if they perceive the risk to be too great. This is why the new DEI-focused guide from McLean & Company is so relevant and supports organizations with an ethical and purposeful approach.”

McLean & Company is committed to supporting people leaders in their efforts to employ an inclusive and intentional approach when gathering and measuring personal employee traits. The firm offers practical resources as well as various levels of support designed to meet organizations’ unique HR needs, including DIY toolkits, guided implementations, workshops, and consulting.

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