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Leadership overhaul: the missing link in DEI success

September 17, 2023

It will be very difficult for DEI to keep progressing at a company if everyone at the top of the corporate ladder looks the same and brings the same general experience to their roles. Nicole Simpson, the U.S. DEI director at marketing and advertising agency RAPP, recalls how this issue affected her when she worked at a previous company with no Black employees in roles above the director level. Within a year, the organization saw a drop-off of roughly 90% of its Black talent. Simpson attributes the attrition to a lack of high-up leader role models.

“If you don’t sincerely commit to changing demographics, you’ll lose valuable employees who don’t see a future for themselves,” Simpson explains. However, she doesn’t condemn leaders who find themselves in this position. Instead, she suggests that they use the realization as a launching pad to correct the problem. “Leaders must recognize and own their contributions to oppressive systems because self-awareness is key to understanding how one can make lasting change. If you only hang around people who think like you and talk like you and look like you, then you’re in an echo chamber.”

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