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Supporting your advancement in DEI organizational excellence.

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The presence of "difference" within a given setting. Differences can arise in our appearances, thoughts, likes and dislikes, values and identities. Diversity among identities may relate to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, education, marital status, sexual orientation, (dis)ability and socioeconomic status, to name a few.

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While ‘equality’ means ʻsameness,’ EQUITY means FAIR treatment, fair access, fair opportunity and fair advancement for all people. Equity is an approach that ensures everyone is supported in their personal and professional development. Unlike equality, equity does not aim to treat all individuals in the exact same way. Instead, equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist.

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The act of creating environments in which people feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work. It means everyone feels valued, respected and appreciated for their unique identities, even when they’re different from others. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution, your policies and programs are truly inviting to all. And extends to the degree to which diverse individuals can participate in decision-making processes and development opportunities.


More and more, people and organizations are making decisions about who they work with and for based on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies, theories and practices. This sentiment goes far beyond quotas and mandates to selecting a vendor, partner or even an employer who has embraced the benefits of a diverse organizational culture. 


Enter AOE. As the trusted resource for organizational, communications and employee excellence for more than 20 years, the AOE team has added team members with specific expertise in all things DEI to meet the DEI needs of the industries we serve. Our offering includes an online benchmarking tool, plan development, marketing and branding audits related to DEI, employee programs, training and much more.

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Developing a DEI Strategy

Creating a DEI strategy requires a clear understanding of the organization's current state of diversity, equity and inclusion as well as a clear vision of where the organization wants to be. Here's the framework for creating a DEI strategy:

  1. Assess the Current State of DEI: Assess the organization's current state of diversity, equity and inclusion. This assessment should include employee demographics, policies, practices and initiatives related to diversity and inclusion.

  2. Set Goals: Use the data from the assessment to set specific goals for the organization. These goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).

  3. Develop an Action Plan: Create an action plan that outlines the steps the organization will take to achieve its DEI goals. The plan should include timelines, responsible parties and measurable outcomes.

  4. Implement and Monitor: Implement the action plan and monitor progress regularly. This includes tracking and reporting on progress toward the organization's DEI goals.

  5. Provide DEI Training and Education: Provide DEI training and education to employees to promote awareness and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Creating a DEI strategy is essential for any organization that wants to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. A good DEI strategy includes policies, practices and initiatives that promote equity, respect and inclusivity for all employees. By developing and implementing effective DEI strategies, organizations can create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace that benefits all employees.

What does DEI mean in the workplace?

DEI programs, when implemented correctly and tied to an organization’s strategic and business objectives, have proven to benefit an organization’s bottom line by creating a competitive advantage in many ways. That brings us to DEI’s meaning in business: What does DEI in the workplace mean? Why is DEI important in organizations?

1.  Financial performance: A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians.

2.  Employer of choice: According to Glassdoor, 67 percent of job seekers view a diverse workforce as an important factor when evaluating companies and considering job offers.

3.  Innovation and growth: Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies are 70 percent likelier to capture a new market. They’re also 45 percent more likely to report increased market share year-over-year.

4.  Increase employee engagement: 83 percent of millennials report being actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive workplace culture. The percentage drops to 60 percent when their organization does not foster an inclusive culture.

5.  Powerful decision-making: Teams that are inclusive make better decisions up to 87 percent of the time, according to a study conducted by Forbes.

What does DEI mean for employees? If those advantages aren’t reason enough to implement a DEI program, the following positive outcomes have been observed at organizations with strong DEI strategies:

  • Diverse teams are more innovative and can solve complex problems.

  • DEI is connected to employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention.

  • Diversity and Inclusion impact reputation and risk management.

  • Corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability are enhanced.

  • A strong DEI program can limit legal liability.


If the topic of DEI is a bit overwhelming, you aren't alone. A recently published study of 1,500 leaders in the business-to-business sector noted that they consider DEI crucial to reputation, recruitment and the bottom line. However, they don't know where to start. If you’re thinking about bringing in a DEI consultant to help with your organization’s approach, we hope you’ll consider our experienced AOE team.


Built with a thoughtful approach to bringing DEI solutions to technical and scientific associations, members of the design and construction industry, and other professional service organizations, AOE can help demystify the DEI topic and help provide the education you need to determine your next steps.


Our experts, certified in the DEI space, are available to share information about DEI with you, your leadership team or board of directors. The training we've assembled does not preach or advocate for DEI in any strong manner, but rather it helps participants understand that DEI programs are a journey, as well as the myriad of factors that have resulted in DEI being the hot topic today. Such factors include the speed of sharing information, the pandemic, as well as the growth of consumers feeling empowered to drive change.


Looking at DEI is key for all organizations wishing to mitigate legal risk, as well as to explore the topic in terms of talent development.

If DEI is something you want to explore, or maybe you simply need to learn a bit more to determine its fit with your organization, AOE can help. Give us a call today.

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