How Top Businesses Practice DEI Through Culture Development

How Top Businesses Practice DEI Through Culture Development

Business success is no longer just about profits–it's about people. Learn how culture development at top organizations is transforming the future of work by creating space for every employee.

How Top Businesses Practice DEI Through Culture Development

Organizations with strong approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bring a competitive advantage to their businesses with increased employee engagement and retention for their teams.

It's no longer just about profits. It's about people.

“It's so powerful to bring in people who offer a different perspective. A more diverse team can allow you to create better products and serve your customers better because you’re viewing the world from a different lens,” said Marie Roker-Jones, co-CEO of Essteem. She spoke at a Cooleaf webinar on inclusion and belonging.

DEI isn’t a trend. It’s a main tenet of human resources, but creating an equitable workplace takes time.

Read on to learn how top organizations launch and sustain equitable, inclusive spaces that motivate teams and create brand loyalty.

A more sustainable DEI strategy starts here. Download Cooleaf's DEI Calendar!

New call-to-action

Define Your DEI Goals & Culture

For any DEI program, it’s important to benchmark your DEI metrics. Many organizations use these metrics to create a DEI snapshot.

A snapshot looks at the stats of your employee sentiment, demographics represented at all levels of your organization, and retention rate.

Many teams with strong organizational cultures like Chegg, Hilton, and Cooleaf partner, Shipt, share their diversity snapshots online every year.

A DEI snapshot helps organizations and leaders:

  • Keep accountable to their own DEI goals
  • See the state of their current work environment
  • Discover areas of opportunity for DEI initiatives
  • Set goals and establish how they hope to achieve them

For instance, think about how many women hold roles as senior leaders. According to, women are still underrepresented in leadership with 25% of women holding C-suite executive roles and only 5% belonging to women of color.

As featured in’s 2022 Women in the Workplace report:

Black women leaders are more likely to have colleagues question their competence [ . . . ] and 1 in 3 Black women leaders say they’ve been denied or passed over for opportunities because of personal characteristics, including their race and gender.

A diversity snapshot of your own organization will help you look closely at the demographics of your departments, including board members.

Once you see the results, you can start assessing needs and setting goals to address disparities that may stem from unconscious bias. Maybe you only recruit from the same colleges every year and need to start a mentoring program to help people of color within your organization move up in their careers.

DEI strategist Lily Zheng captured the idea of benchmarking DEI metrics on her Linkedin profile:

DEI is about finding out and fixing those root causes of inequality and potential discrimination. Sometimes, it's intentional [or] overt racism [. . . ] other times, it's biased policies, the lack of process, or accidental exclusion. Whatever it is, we fix it, with the goal of building a workplace free from discrimination, that works for everybody.

The idea is to help business leaders see where processes can be made more inclusive.

Leading a team to success is hard. Don't go it alone! Download Cooleaf's Manager Handbook.

New call-to-action

Align Your DEI Goals to Your Core Values

The education tech company, Chegg, is a certified Great Place to Work, with a reported 94% rating in its employee satisfaction.

Chegg does a few things to be one of the best places to work: from helping everyone belong in their onboarding process to helping all employees live Chegg’s mission and core values of learning belonging to everyone.

Chegg approaches its DEI goals with that core value in mind:

  • Executive-level coaching is provided as needed to all roles at any level, so everyone has the potential for growth.
  • Cross-departmental opportunities are built into management training, so everyone can learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives.
  • Transparency in sharing Chegg’s employee engagement evaluation surveys, so everyone can see and understand issues to suggest improvements.

Continuously learning from one another shows up in how they take action. Leadership teams work directly with focus groups of 5+ employees to execute and measure new initiatives or DEI efforts sourced from employee surveys.

According to Chegg’s global employee engagement survey in 2021, 95% of employees believe that team members with different cultures and backgrounds are respected. What’s more, 93% of employees believe in Chegg’s mission to provide learning for everyone.

Consider adding employee survey questions that ask about your organization’s core values and whether your people feel aligned!

a diverse team works on a culture development plan together

Drive Empowerment and Adoption

Creating the programming and resources for your people gives them the tools to feel empowered. However, to get buy-in and help your stakeholders embrace inclusive culture in their day-to-day responsibilities takes time and conscious effort from all levels of the organization.

At Hilton Hospitality, their DEI goals feed into all roles and aspects of their global organization.

Hiring programs focus on creating a diverse workplace culture centered on varying points of view, experiences, and backgrounds. They source candidates by providing scholarships, a Veteran job program, and recruiting relationships with diverse-focused institutions like HBCUs.

DEI extends to development with a debt-free education program for managers and employees to return to school or access additional training with full tuition and school supply coverage.

Employee engagement opportunities like a conversation series open up topics around social justice and how Hilton can keep working to provide an equitable experience for their clientele too.

With a large organization, spread around the world, Hilton hosts 8 employee resource groups (ERGs) which are divided into 250 chapters. This helps create stronger, more accessible forums for underrepresented groups to connect and take action together.

ERGs create spaces for groups who share a common interest, experience, or level of identity (sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, etc) to come together to support and give employees a voice. These employee-led groups also increase employee engagement and competency.

Hilton’s ‘Abilities’ ERG works to help empower and raise awareness for Hilton teammates with visible and invisible disabilities, as well as their caregivers and allies. The ERG works towards its own goals while using Hilton’s resources and leadership to advocate and create change.

Driving DEI into different aspects of their organization clearly made an impact. Hilton Hospitality is recognized as the #3 World’s Best Workplace in 2021, and as a Great Place to Work in 21 countries and 3 regions.

Sustain Your DEI Solutions

Fostering strong inclusive work culture starts with accountability. The DEI snapshot is a great way to start from year-to-year. Hilton even shares their DEI success through a timeline that helps potential hires and existing employees see landmarks over the years.

Cooleaf partner, Shipt, uses a DEI snapshot to share their progress, including creating an inclusive workplace with all-gendered restrooms, a mother’s room, and braille signage.

They also bring inclusivity into how they work together as a team, celebrating wins at all levels.

All year long, Shipt celebrates its customer service talent but they go all out for Customer Service Appreciation Week. They make sure to include managers and different departments too!

Making sure that the customer service team’s value is communicated and appreciated gives the team extra motivation and shows just how much their contribution matters.

Shipt brings that community approach to how they keep accountable in their DEI snapshot. Not only are they looking to be one of the most diverse workforces in tech by 2025, but they also want to be the most engaged, with the strongest community. So they took their 2025 goal and broke it down into annual initiatives.

A few of their 2023 initiatives include:

  • Bringing DEI to community impact by looking at key suppliers
  • Growing partnerships from organizations with aligned values
  • Providing BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ small businesses with financial support and assistance

“Everyone, internally and externally, needs to understand your inclusion efforts," said Marie at the Cooleaf webinar. "They need to know why your company values diversity, inclusion, and belonging. That includes partners, vendors, as well as new hires and potential hires."

These intentions keep Shipt accountable. As a grocery and goods delivery service, their goals align with profitability but also strengthen company culture. Shipt’s values are at the front of everything, ensuring that they’re held accountable to their DEI goals.

a diverse group of nurses chat while one nurse faces the camera, smiling

Are you ready to build your DEI culture?

So–are you ready to start? Let us know, and our Cooleaf team is happy to help you get started with your own DEI programming and engagement.

See Cooleaf in action


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee experiences with our industry newsletter. You'll receive our weekly newsletter, along with occasional event invites for upcoming webinars.

We will never share your email address with third parties.