Skip to content
Louisa BenedictoJun 5, 2024 12:23:39 PM3 min read

DEI by another name

DE&I by another name  

Recently, I have been asked to stop calling the work I do DE&I. And quite frankly, I’m ok with that, with a few caveats.  

Prioritizing the things that boost the performance and productivity of people, which are   key to financial success, shouldn’t create a divide, it should be embraced. So, how did we get to a point where we are so hotly debated in the news? And where laws are being crafted opposing what we do?  And why am I being asked to call DE&I something else entirely?  

To me, this work has always centered around one fundamental question: How can we ensure that every individual can equitably pursue a career that aligns to their skills and potential, and where they can show up each day feeling motivated, happy, and able to achieve their best? Not only does achieving this make individuals successful and able to provide for themselves and dependents, but it makes businesses highly successful, profitable, and prosperous.  

So, if you’d rather I help you with an ESG initiative, a culture change program or a project to make your employer value proposition more appealing to the communities you serve, I can totally do that. 

I’ve dedicated my entire career to this work I have spent 18 years working in and leading recruitment teams around the world (UK, Japan and North America), and five years leading DE&I internally at Hays, helping our clients to achieve their own DE&I goals. I’ve led teams of up to 100 people and those teams have helped thousands of people to get jobs. It is clear to me that those who show up each day feeling motivated, happy and, crucially, accepted for who they are and what they can bring to a company, perform better.  

With the latter in mind, who would argue that DE&I work isn’t important? Why wouldn’t any business embrace the benefits we bring about?  

Divisiveness destroys

While progress has been significant over the past five years, there’s still much to learn. Some programs may not have yielded the desired results, leading to negative press where anything related to DE&I is unfairly tarnished and written off as having no value. Some of the programming I’ve seen is divisive. Shaming people for things they perhaps aren’t personally responsible for is not constructive. And, progress is not made by calling people out, but is achieved by calling people in gently and fiercely educating wherever this is welcomed.  

For example, the industry has done a terrible job of engaging white men, with them blamed for a lot of inequity. To surmise that one group is responsible is dangerous. It creates an ‘us and them’ mentality, which is what we so often fight against. And this is why I think we are where we are. 

Recently, I heard the term ‘DEI’ referred to as ‘didn’t earn it’. However, critics of DE&I must understand that we do not want individuals to secure jobs based on appearances or familiarity - this would go completely against what DE&I professionals are pushing for. I want organizations to recognize the skills and potential of candidates, and the benefits they bring to an organization.  

My job is to help organizations find ways to evaluate candidates during the recruitment and career advancement process, that go beyond looking at a resume or the job trajectory they already have. My focus is figuring out what their innate skills and abilities are to make sure that they are on the right path and will bring both themselves and the business they work for great success. Diversity is everywhere, it’s how we welcome it that is important. 

I hope that we don’t need DE&I departments in the future. I hope that this work becomes ingrained in everything that we do across all departments in organizations - for our employees, and customers, by ensuring that we deliver products and services that meet everyone’s needs.  

But, for now, I’ll keep helping my clients to remove barriers, allowing more people to access their open roles, while ensuring that they provide meaningful careers for their employees. Who can argue with that?  

Get in touch  

Myself and my DE&I colleagues are experts in developing and executing successful global DE&I training programmes and workplace strategies. Browse our catalogue of courses, explore our consulting services or contact us to book a one-to-one discussion with myself or one of our experts. 


Louisa Benedicto

Louisa Benedicto is Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), Corporate Social Responsibility, and Sustainability at Hays – covering the Americas region including Canada, the U.S. and Latin American Countries.