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Navigating DEI

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Barbara Frencia, CEO of Business Assurance at DNV, explains why DEI is now a business imperative rather than just a trend.

In today’s fast-paced corporate landscape, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are not just buzzwords but essential strategies for success.

DEI: Challenges and rewards

As a global certification body, DNV has witnessed first-hand the challenges and rewards of implementing DEI policies across diverse industries and geographies.

And as a multinational organisation with about 15,000 employees located all over the world, we know that navigating DEI waters isn’t easy. But the rewards are worth it. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that companies which take DEI seriously are more likely to experience enhanced financial performance, innovation and attract exceptional talent.


DEI is often misunderstood, however. It isn’t just about creating policies and ticking boxes; it’s about unlocking the full potential of your workforce. 

For example, a 2022 study examining companies listed on the NYSE released by The International Journal of Business Performance Management found that the diversity value dimension is positively correlated with financial performance. Another study, published in Economic Geography in 2015, concluded that companies with diverse management are more likely to introduce new product innovations than are those with homogeneous teams and that diversity is particularly important for reaching international markets.

Understanding DEI

DEI is often misunderstood, however. It isn’t just about creating policies and ticking boxes; it’s about unlocking the full potential of your workforce. True diversity goes beyond surface-level metrics. It’s about embracing diverse perspectives and experiences. And inclusion isn’t just about inviting people to the table; it’s about ensuring they have a voice and are valued.

Prioritising Leadership Engagement

To achieve these benefits, companies must integrate DEI into their business strategy. DEI isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for business success. And leadership buy-in is crucial as when leaders champion DEI, it sets the tone for the entire organisation.

Adopting ISO standards such as ISO 30415. ISO 30415 can provide guidelines to organisations on diversity and inclusion in addition to providing a way to structure the company’s approach to DEI – both internally and externally. Standards provide a roadmap for effective DEI implementation, providing clarity and structure, guiding organisations through their DEI journey.

Integrating DEI

DEI should be part of your organisation’s DNA. By integrating DEI principles into culture and operations, it becomes second nature – not something you do, but something you are.

Although implementing DEI can represent a challenge, senior managers should consider the impact their organisation has on society at large. What does your company stand for?  How are you modelling good corporate behaviour?  What makes you an attractive employer?  Do your employees feel safe, seen and heard?  And when someone sees your brand, what do you want them to feel?

Yes, DEI can help your business, but it also leads to a more equitable, accepting and tolerant world.  And I believe these values are worth fighting for. 

Barbara Frencia

Barbara Frencia is the CEO of Business Assurance at DNV.


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