It has been more than two years since the racial reckoning that rose from the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. The public outcry that spilled into the streets and into corporate boardrooms generated more than $50 billion in pledges to address racial equity in Black, Indigenous and other communities of color according to Creative Investment Research. Recent studies show that despite the bold statements and well-intentioned investments, there continues to be a lack of forward movement in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals.

There are three key reasons why DEI initiatives fail: failure to explicitly connect DEI objectives to the organization’s mission, vision and values; lack of sustainable support from leadership; and absence of a cohesive strategic approach to integrating DEI into all aspects of the business.

For DEI leaders who have been at the forefront of diversity work, this is not surprising. Professor Pamela Newkirk documented the diversity challenges faced by media, consumer goods and tech companies in her 2019 book “Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of a Billion-Dollar Industry.”  Regardless of industry, company age or size, DEI efforts within organizations lack strategic follow-through and accountability. They are often reactive and episodic. In many cases, DEI still only becomes a priority during a public relations crisis.

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