How DE&I efforts evolved in 2021

More than 1,000 respondents to Ragan’s Communications Benchmark Survey shared how DE&I is going in their organizations — and what obstacles still stand in the way.

By Allison Carter      
How DE&I evolved in 2021

The growing investment in diversity, equity and inclusion continues, according to Ragan’s 2022 Communications Benchmark Survey. Of more than 1,000 respondents in the communications profession, 74% said DE&I efforts in their organization had increased in 2021. This indicates that organizations seem committed to following through on promises made in this sector, even as we get more distance from the dramatic events of 2020 that put a spotlight on the topic.

But how organizations are going about those expanded efforts varies, respondents say.

A graph of how organizations said they increased their DE&I initiatives in 2021

Sixty percent are still making strategic plans, according to the survey. Others are having more open communications about diversity and inclusion topics, including through open conversations (59%), holding additional trainings on relevant topics (57%) or bringing in outside speakers.

Others are putting plans into action by creating new employee resource groups (44%), new DE&I positions (40%), changing talent, retention and employment policies (33%), or increasing diversity of suppliers and vendors (23%).

Despite these strides, some say not enough is being done in their organizations.

“There have been NO practices that have resulted in MEASURABLE outcomes as aligned to the equity goals the organization shared with the public very ceremoniously four (4) years ago,” one respondent wrote with palpable frustration. Indeed, only 42% of respondents said they knew that their organization even had measurable DE&I goals, indicating a need to better set and communicate these benchmarks.

Transparency of DE&I efforts proved to be a pain point among several respondents, with another chiming in: “Our managers [are in charge of DE&I], which is part of why the rest of us don’t know what’s going on.”

A table showing how communicators answered the question, 'which of the following best describes why you did not increase your DE&I initiatives in 2021?"

Of the organizations that indicated they did not increase DE&I efforts in 2021, some indicated a lack of consensus over the best next actions to take (12%), while others said it just wasn’t a priority (9%).

It’s up to comms, wellness and HR professionals to help lead these often-difficult conversations and make positive strides in setting, achieving and communicating DE&I goals. How is your organization tackling these issues?

For more insights on DE&I, benefits and more, read the exclusive Benchmark Executive Summary. A full copy of Ragan’s fourth annual Communications Benchmark Report is only available to members of the Communications Leadership Council. Details on membership are available.