I’m concerned.

This past October, a study funded by the Center for Social Innovation at Boston College, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and WorkRise found that sentiment on DE&I initiatives—that is, diversity, equity, and inclusion—is considerably positive.

Also, 65 percent of organizations in the study said that DE&I efforts are important, a huge majority.

Wait, that sounds like great news—so why is Ahva Sadeghi concerned?

Because the exact same study also found that 63 percent of organizations “have allocated little to no resources to DE&I.”

In other words, while many organisations are talking the talk, only a fraction are actually walking the walk.

This lack of material investment in DE&I resources is inexcusable and we can not allow this to continue in 2023 or every year beyond that. The fact is, thanks to today’s technology it’s easier than ever to track, reduce, and eliminate bias and exclusionary practices that are ingrained in the way we have traditionally worked. It’s not enough to say, “this is important, but we just don’t know how to achieve it!” Paying lip service to DE&I is not enough when the tools are out there. Those who continue to drag their feet on doing their part will start to pay the price with repercussions on consumer sentiment and employee morale—if they haven’t already.

Beyond business-related reasons for enacting DE&I initiatives, it’s also important to note that we have the capability to do the right thing in this instance. So many times in life the “right thing” to do is hard to achieve or simply difficult to identify, but here that’s not the case. We owe it to those who have experienced bias in hiring or management in the past to fix the way we go about treating our workforce, and we owe it to the next generation.

So let’s talk about what an effective DE&I initiative can look like and how your organization can set itself up to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.

Knowledge is power

Promoting diversity at your organization requires you to first understand who makes up your employee base. In order to address where you’re lacking on the diversity front, you need to collect data on key diversity metrics and have a way to analyze them. Some workforce platforms today come with the ability to track demographic metrics and showcase the gaps that you can then work to address.

Visibility into employee and intern details like ethnicity, race, age, pronouns, impairments or special requirements, location, and education can provide a measure of your current diversity and highlight areas that need work. Use that data to optimize your hiring processes and implement strategies to address any gaps in your workforce diversity. One method could include your intern programs—since interns come to your company and may stay at your workplace for years to come, steps taken to increase DE&I at that level can have an extended positive impact on your workforce diversity


You might be tired of hearing about “remote work” after the first years of the pandemic, but your current and potential employees are not. Making full-time employment or internship programs available to remote workers is one of the most significant steps you can take to follow through with your DE&I goals and remove barriers to your organization for people of all backgrounds. Geographic and financial barriers are among the most significant reasons an organization might be having trouble meeting its diversity goals, and remote positions alleviate those difficulties by a large amount.

Today’s workforce platforms can handle onboarding and offboarding tasks digitally. This means that the administrative burden on your HR team to bring on remote workers is far less than it might have been in the past—meaning you can open the door to more people, meeting them in a way that works for them. That’s creating equitable access!

Additionally, by not limiting your hiring base to those currently local to you (or willing and able to relocate), your organization has a larger pool of quality candidates to pull from. Why would you want to close your company off to someone who might be a perfect fit for your organization just because they live a few states over?

Engage the whole organization

DE&I initiatives aren’t just for executives or HR departments. For them to succeed, the entire organization needs to be on board; otherwise, it’s very hard to create an inclusive environment for different people to thrive within.

Create and make available educational resources and training programs around various topics under the DE&I banner. These may include seminars or group discussions on accommodation training, cultural sensitivity, or unconscious bias. They can also take the form of video series or pronoun guides made available the same way employee handbooks are.

Train your current employees, particularly those in management positions, and make these resources available right away to new employees within the onboarding process in your workforce platform. This will help create an environment conducive to further DE&I initiatives and foster an inclusive company culture.

But do not stop there; follow up on your training and the resources you’ve provided by encouraging participation and discussion across your employee base. Nurture inclusivity wherever you see it beginning to grow. Employee resource groups (ERGs) should be encouraged, as they provide a safe space for employees to share their cultures and interests and feel more comfortable.

Taking steps forward

This is a critical time to re-evaluate the way we hire and manage our workforces. We need to keep our eyes open for discrimination that previously flew under the radar. Careful attention to employee data, calling out biased norms and double-standards, and calling in reformed processes can help foster inclusivity and keep our leaders accountable.

If you don’t think scrutiny will increase in coming years on whether companies are backing up their talk around DE&I, you (and your board, investors, and/or stock price) are in line for a rude awakening. Organizations that want to show they care and do the right thing for their employees and the communities they serve should make enabling these kinds of initiatives a priority for 2023.


Ahva Sadeghi is CEO & Co-Founder of Symba.





Ahva Sadeghi is a passionate social entrepreneur and co-founder & CEO of Symba, an award-winning and women-founded tech startup using technology to democratize access to the workplace through internships and apprenticeships. Ahva is an economist and researcher focused on workforce development and is a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council.

Prior to launching Symba, Ahva worked at the US Department of State in the Human Rights Bureau and completed a civil rights fellowship with Congressman John Lewis in Atlanta. She was recently named Forbes 30 Under 30, a Global Entrepreneur Scholar by the US Department of State and is a Tory Burch Fellow.

Ahva completed her studies at the London school of Economics, Georgetown University, and the University of Arizona Honors College. In her spare time, Ahva enjoys playing the cello.