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Diversity Longtail - By Issa Jouaneh

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While many organizations are addressing diversity at the most senior and corporate levels, the degree of commitment has been primarily limited to narrow definitions of what can and should be a broader mandate that encompasses values, vision, strategies, and priorities. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) have come under greater corporate leadership focus because of recent events and a consensus that change is necessary. However, the resulting fragmentation and dilution of DEIB efforts as it is filtered through different industry and individual organization lenses, requires a second look.

In a similar pattern to other social priorities, DEIB can be a time bound trend with limited adoption if the need for change is not supported and maintained by a value based approach, measurable return on investment, and an understanding of the broader impact and value of a deeply integrated approach. The recognition of the value and downstream impact of DEIB, is a topic of focus for me and the team as we help organizations assess their current landscape and implement actionable change throughout their B2B ecosystem.

We created a framework based on Diversity Longtail, which we define as the smaller, targeted and yet widespread DEIB actions (beyond the high-level appointments of Diversity officers, training, and corporate communications) that in aggregate will have a larger impact and drive more value to an organization. We believe that a purposeful approach to DEIB coupled with a Diversity Longtail framework can have transformational impacts on an organization’s growth, culture, and communities they touch. The framework is an important consideration for leaders as they weigh the value of their current and future DEIB investment. For the few on the sidelines, Diversity Longtail is a call to action.

A Diversity Longtail approach includes the following components (below is not a deep dive, and is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of the framework):

1. Talent: A comprehensive DEIB talent strategy can enable the organization to become a destination for talent, and not just diverse talent. Professionals are seeking a workplace where they belong, where they see genuine equity and inclusion, and where their values and identity are not only respected but integrated within the overall organization’s fabric.

2. B2B supplier ecosystem: A thoughtful approach to DEIB across the B2B ecosystem can deliver savings and more effective partnerships. Such an approach will naturally avoid premature decisions on which categories to target to create diverse supplier revenue (for example Meetings & Events is seen as a high opportunity category vs Travel which is often incorrectly dismissed as lacking opportunity). Significant opportunity exists today to better identify diverse spend and enable diverse spend growth.

3. Growth: People and companies like to work with and buy from companies and people who share their values. A value proposition and go to market strategy with DEIB as a core tenant will result in growth and loyalty in both B2B and B2C customer segments

4. Innovation: Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging results in more innovation as organizations become more open to new employees with different backgrounds, new partners who are more nimble and in tune with new technology and trends, and with entrepreneurs seeking to build new products and solutions.

5. Culture: While culture is certainly a focus area for most organizations, DEIB often has a very narrow definition within this context. A comprehensive adoption of DEIB will result in meaningful genuine and productive teamwork, a true alignment to the corporate mission and values, and a broader meaning of inclusivity. An example of this expanded view of DEIB within organizational culture addresses the unspoken perception that “we accept you but not your ideas”.

6. Compliance & Risk Management: Meaningful and genuine DEIB can be a critical enabler of more robust compliance and risk management. A safe environment that values diverse thought and perspective, will encourage transparency, and the willingness of team members to identify challenges, bad behavior and general non-compliance. In a time where “alignment and buy in” are buzzwords in corporate culture, diversity of people and diversity of thought should be the objective.

7. Goals/targets/scorecards: While many organizations have set out objectives at the corporate levels to reach their diversity goals, these goals have not been micro-sized for business unit leaders, individual disciplines, and categories. This often leads to lack of ownership and buy in within the organization leading to limited adoption and outcomes. A full rollout of goals and objectives down to the individual performer level is necessary.

8. Governance: Sophisticated Governance with DEIB will provide the oversight, support, and ultimate accountability on meaningful change and DEIB driven business results. In a similar way to how some employee engagement and satisfaction surveys can be rendered meaningless with shifting baselines and self-serving narratives, boards and stakeholders need to have the knowledge and tools to identify and support real and meaningful DEIB change. Diversity is a discipline that requires commitment and oversight.

As people move through their personal DEIB journey, organizations have a similar journey of self discovery and subsequent action. Advocates and leaders of the Travel and Meetings & Events industry should integrate DEIB into their business practices, and importantly, into their company culture and values. Diversity is a discipline that can become a competitive advantage for organizations that unlock the Diversity Longtail to benefit from a higher level of employee and stakeholder engagement and long-term value creation.


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