Episode 292: How to Make a Meaningful Impact in DEI

Diversity, equity and inclusion are not new ideas in the HR and corporate arenas, but in recent months the importance and significance of D&I in the workplace has gotten leaders throughout corporate America to think about what doing the right thing in our community looks like. For many of us in HR, this means we’re not taking our D&I initiatives to stakeholders – they’re coming to us looking for answers. And we must be ready to respond.

Episode 292: How to Make a Meaningful Impact in DEI With Cathy Light (@CoachCathyLight)

I spoke with Cathy Light, founder and CEO of the Lideranca Group and DEInamics. The Lideranca Group helps corporate leaders build and manage internal teams committed to achieving excellence. Cathy’s company recently introduced a unique, metrics-driven roadmap for developing meaningful and substantive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. It does so by helping leaders identify opportunities for improvement, elevate conversations around diversity and inspire change.

Cathy has worked in the corporate world in a variety of leadership roles, including Vice President and General Manager of Sunrise Technologies, Senior Sales and Marketing Executive at Fuji Optical Systems, and began her career at a little start-up known as Apple Computer. Cathy said, “When I look at the culmination of my career and where I landed today, it’s having an innovative mindset and openness in thinking; if someone says we can’t do it, I’m going to figure out a way to do it.”

“While I grew up in Silicon Valley and worked in tech, I never considered myself a technologist. And now I’m running a division for software analytics.” - Cathy Light @CoachCathyLight #WorkologyPodcast #DEI Click To Tweet

I asked Cathy about what led her to work in DEI. “In 2017 I was working with a couple of Fortune clients within a two week span and the executives asked me if we had an instrument or a tool that measured equity and inclusion. We didn’t have one. I told my clients that I didn’t have one and that I’d look at the marketplace. My team and I couldn’t find anything out there at the time; therein was the opportunity for me to develop it. We started the journey of creating an analytics tool for DEI measurement.”

How Do We Make a Meaningful Impact in DEI?

 “I do believe leaders can translate strengths and opportunities for development that will lead to business growth, but right now we need cultural understanding that leads to cultural intelligence. That’s why we put together our online diversity education collection. If we can change the narrative for leaders and start to focus more on people…we really need to inject more flexibility into the workforce.”

“We as leaders need to do a lot of self monitoring right now, and be open to having discussions around what has transpired around social justice.” - Cathy Light @CoachCathyLight #WorkologyPodcast #DEI Click To Tweet

DEI directly impacts revenue generating business models. “There has been so much research around this, but what’s really perplexing to me is why this has to be so difficult because there are so many rewards. The rewards are what I call 360 DEI rewards. When you can do the right thing automatically without thinking about it, it becomes natural and everyone benefits.”

“McKinsey stated that companies with higher gender diversity are 21% more likely to have higher profitability and companies that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to have better financial returns. Deloitte says that companies with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to achieve financial targets than their competitors.” 

“You have to start with what type of culture you have and if you’re meeting those cultural values, developing a plan, communicating it, practicing what you’re preaching, and being intentional about how decisions are made and understanding exactly how your employees feel,” said Cathy.

 Conversations about leadership and culture are extremely important – and we need to have more of them, because those conversations spark change. As HR leaders, we can support our company leaders with resources and training that can open up D&I initiatives in a way that sets your company up for long-term success while also setting an example of what “doing the right thing” looks like.

We want to be able to measure our DEI efforts, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Partnering with company leaders to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization is a good practice, as we need leadership to be on board in order to make a cultural impact. DEI metrics and analytics can help us understand where we are now, where we would like to be, and how large the gap is between those two points. I’m so pleased to have Cathy share her expertise with us!

Listen to the full podcast for so much more, including how Cathy’s DEInamics works for companies through workplace and leadership education, the negative impact of ignoring DEI has on employer brand, and how DEI metrics can help create a diverse, supportive and profitable workplace culture. 

Connect with Cathy Light.



– Cathy Light on LinkedIn

– Cathy Light on Twitter

– DEI+®

– Lideranca Group

Episode 288: DEI Metrics and Benchmarking

Episode 285: The Role of the CHRO and DEI With Whitney Bennett

– Ep 250: Exploring the ROI of Diversity and Equity

– Episode Transcript

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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