In a recent poll, 79% of executive talent leaders reported that they were receiving more requests from C-Suite leadership on metrics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work. Nearly half said executive leadership wanted to see more communication about DEI initiative progress.

These numbers point to an increasingly difficult task for executive talent leaders. It’s no longer just about figuring out how to implement best practices for inclusive leadership hiring, it’s also about sharing your work across multiple teams in your organization.

Deciding which metrics are best to report on is hard enough–most organizations rely on a combination of EEO-1 data and stats on candidate movement through the recruitment funnel.  

But how do you tell the story beyond the numbers to keep leadership invested? 

We asked Kirt Morris​, Chief Equity Officer at Merkle, Sabrina Long, DEI Talent Acquisition at Dentsu, and Alexis Millen, Early Careers Lead at Dentsu, for some advice on how to start publicizing the impact of internal DEI efforts. Dentsu is a global marketing and advertising agency founded in Japan.

Here’s what they shared. 

1. Take stock of your starting point. 

Before you report on DEI, take the time to inventory current practices and available resources so you understand where you started. Sometimes, that takes shape as an audit, and other times it’s simply documenting on paper how things are currently done. The easier you can compare a past version of your team’s efforts against your future state, the easier it will be to demonstrate incremental progress over time.

2. Establish your “why” and keep returning to it. 

Dentsu has four strategic pillars for its DEI program: accountability and transparency,  representation and inclusion, education and continuous learning, and community impact. These were carefully selected based on values and the organization’s belief system surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. When the team reports on progress, they reference these pillars repeatedly to drive home the notion that there is intentionality behind every action they take.

3. Align metrics to your strategy. 

Dentsu selects its reportable metrics based on their individual strategy, not the latest industry trends. Rather than simply reporting on the underrepresented talent present in their candidate pipeline, for example, they look at the candidate progression through each stage of the recruitment funnel. By measuring the passthrough rate between stages, the percentage of advancement, they can identify areas of opportunity. 

If candidates are making it to interviews but not receiving offers, perhaps the assessment process needs review. If candidates aren’t making it passed the screening stage, could unconscious bias be at play? Sharing this data provides other teams with additional information to consider whether that process is inclusive and equitable, but also always evolving. These data points may not be conclusive, but may be a basis to have a broader discussion about ensuring we are utilizing best practices for inclusive behavior. 

4. When you talk to the C-Suite, tie your efforts to ROI. 

Many industries are in the midst of an economic slowdown, which makes it even more critical for leaders to show a return on investment for the dollars that your spending on DEI programming. When you speak to the C-Suite, they want to understand the return on investment for every dollar spent and how the programs align to important business outcomes. If you can show that investing $2 more per candidate early on in the recruitment process leads to an increase in placements that results in more productive teams, you’ll be more successful in getting buy-in to maintain or expand the existing DEI budget.

5. Don’t forget to involve middle management too. 

It’s not just the C-Suite that needs to buy-in to your organization’s DEI plan. You also need to activate middle management, since they are often responsible for executing and activating the programming that will be meaningful. Figure out which teams you can partner with internally who all have overlapping goals surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion–maybe that is HR, Finance, or the general TA team. Whoever it is, be sure to listen to everyone’s perspectives and align your work to their processes so they become champions of internal DEI efforts. 

6. Find the right reporting cadence. 

Whether your team is going to produce a report, a slide deck, or a host a live meeting, determine the right reporting medium and frequency for each internal team you’d like to stay involved in DEI progress. Merkle hosts a quarterly Town Hall for internal teams, where they share their progress from the previous quarter and the goals and priorities for the coming months. Figure out the pockets of your organization where people are really interested in supporting DEI and lean into the many available forums to engage them–it could be a Slack channel, an internal email newsletter, a recorded video update–anything to keep people’s attention on your work.


DEI is a long-term commitment, and realistically, many executive talent leaders may not actually see the full impact of their work to champion DEI during their tenure. That’s why sharing incremental progress and laying the foundation for how internal teams can communicate with one another about DEI success is the most important work executive talent leaders can do.