DEI fireproofing = No need for extinguishers

2 min readJan 21, 2022


Ask any sane CEO whether they feel DEI is an important priority within their business, and no doubt you’ll get a clean sweep of ‘absolutely’ type answers.

The trouble is DEI ‘busyness’ doesn’t always equate to DEI progress. We live in an increasingly impatient world, where near-instant results are expected.

As a consequence the DEI low road is too tempting not to take — this route is filled with low hanging fruit which you can proudly (and publicly) chest beat about.

And ultimately when you’re judged quarter to quarter why set 5–10 year plans when you can achieve instant gratification right?

Wrong. (well partly).

Quick wins are necessary. If something is very wrong, then bloody well fix it!

However, living with a short-term firefighting mentality is not sustainable. Smoke inhalation will get you eventually!

An example. Company X has 90% male board members. A result of decades of disregard to hiring and retention policies which has seen a cycle of promising underpaid and overlooked female talent leave the business, with the legacy of future/senior female talent deciding against applying.

In the intensifying heat from the fire (fanned by fear of public scrutiny, and not the research-backed ‘diversity of thought is better for business’ reasoning) a plan is hatched.

A data-driven deep dive programme of work, centred around empathetic candidate/employee sentiment analysis with unwavering board support to write the wrongs and fix the underlying root causes, setting the wheels in motion for a long-term strategy which rectifies these deeply entrenched problems, to achieve the vision of true inclusion and equality, permeating every corner of the company culture….is not what happens.

Instead what happens is;

“Let’s hire a female Non-Exec to the board!”

“Great idea Mike! I know just the person. Draw up the press release”

The truth is that the future workforce demands your long-term approach to DEI.

A custodian mentality is a necessity to ensure your next business leaders succeed.

Invest in fireproofing your business, and you’ll stop needing to reach for the extinguishers.


PS — Apologies to any Mike’s offended by this heavily dramatised board meeting exchange

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By Jon JacobS, Cofounder CandidateX

Originally published at




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