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Third-party certification company EDGE Certification aims to help companies go beyond the rhetoric on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) to drive tangible results. Founder Aniela Unguresan says standards need to be created, with objective, independent measurement to provide credibility and visibility to the work being done. The CEO and other C-suite executives need to set goals, with subject matter experts overseeing daily actions to measure success, while line managers translate values into daily activities.

“Regardless of a CEO’s good intentions and the team members’ high-level of enthusiasm and energy, middle management’s attitude toward DEI and their subsequent actions will determine whether a company’s DEI efforts will succeed or fail,” said Raquel Tamez, chief inclusion and engagement officer at consulting firm Charles River Associates.

One challenge is line managers’ perceived lack of time, but Unguresan said companies must explain why DEI is important and how it helps staff perform better. Companies with tech-centric tools for anonymous reporting on pay inequity, discrimination, and harassment perform better than those without, Unguresan said. Some companies link compensation and bonuses of line managers to DEI goals to encourage progress, but other firms worry this may raise legal issues.

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