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These days, many conversations we hear about diversity and inclusion in the workplace suggest that some managers think D&I stands for “difficult” and “internalized.” Many such leaders and managers struggle to talk about race, gender, and other aspects of diversity. And some think D&I means they should favor one group over another.

When we hear this line of thinking, our SIR experts usually find an absence of an organization-wide plan to make D&I a fundamental business strategy.

And that’s a mistake.


In the past year, SIR has been helping organizations develop plans for more diverse and inclusive workplaces. We have found two strong reasons for committing to D&I initiatives.

First, when employees feel a part of a supportive workplace (no matter the group), they are far more engaged, productive, and satisfied. And they are more likely to stay with a company longer. Plus, the benefits from diversity often include improved creativity, innovation, and employee morale. Employees report that they will bring their best to the job when they know there will be a range of experiences and competing ideas in a diverse work team. 


Second, leaders across business sectors understand the demographic destiny of America. Tomorrow’s labor pool will be more diverse than ever as minority groups become the majority population in the U.S. within the next 15 years. At the same time, a worker shortage is pending, with little or no growth projected to occur in the 21- to 62-year-old age group. It is inevitable there will be increased competition for employees, and companies will need to expand their hiring sources.

If you’re not “all in” on D&I, then you’ll fall short on having a fully engaged workforce today — and in maximizing the success of the workforce tomorrow. 

It is inevitable there will be increased competition for employees, and companies will need to expand their hiring sources.


Yes, we hear leaders say they have diversity fatigue, after more than a decade of training driven by compliance mandates. But while rules and policies remain a fundamental part of achieving workplace diversity goals, the emphasis needs to be placed on the broader good for the company culture and your long-term success.

The best companies make D&I plans an integrated part of management development and practices. They do this with strategic plans that are supported by the CEO, accepted as an organizational core value, and included in performance management.

There’s more to the story about how D&I is good for business. Let us know when you’d like to chat about it.


Just a few of the projects we’re working on:

Strategic Communications – Perhaps you’ve heard this bit of news: I-66 in Northern Virginia is being transformed — and in a big way. Behind the scenes of this years-long, high-profile corridor improvement project has been SIR’s communications and video team. We partnered with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to support a public outreach and strategic communications campaign that included an online video optimized for social media. SIR designed this video to be a down-to-earth conversation between Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and potential I-66 drivers, facilitated by Commuter Advocate Grindly Johnson. Messaging was focused on the “why” behind the project — including the wealth of public input gathered beforehand — rather than on data from clunky charts and graphs. 


Research-Based Planning – SIR is helping leaders at a large public university determine a more effective and efficient way to engage its 185,000 alumni worldwide. The project lets us flex our muscles in all areas of SIR’s work: future trends analysis, landscape audits, online surveys, focus groups, one-on-interviews, and strategic planning. The school’s new strategic plan for alumni engagement will include operations and communications components — all driven by hard data that its various stakeholders can understand and support.

On the Road: Organizations near and far have taken interest in our team’s research-inspired presentations on the top traits of winning organizations of tomorrow. In November, Matt Thornhill “ventured” to the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond to keynote the Young Professionals Organization's Southern Seven regional conference. John Martin went all the way to Norway for a customized presentation to leaders of Circle K Europe. Engagements for 2018 are already filling up fast. Visit SIR's Institute for Tomorrow website to watch clips from our speeches and to learn more.  


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SIR is a 54-year-old strategy and market research consulting firm devoted to providing leaders with transformative insights and solutions in transportation, government, healthcare, higher education, placemaking, and diversity and inclusion. SIR’s in-house think tank, the Institute for Tomorrow, is a nationally recognized center on future studies, whose “future maps” and keynote presentations help leaders guide organizations through change in their specific industry. For more information, visit SIRhq.com and InstituteforTomorrow.com.

Matt Thornhill