Crucial Role and Importance of DEI in Professional Services Firms

by Kylee Stone Jun 5,2024

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO


The modern world is advancing with the advent and advancements of technology, and contemporary organizations feature new features, policies, and accessibility.

Other than technology, the three buzzwords captivating the world of businesses and professional service firms are DEI – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion!

Globally, organizations are taking initiatives to emphasize DEI in professional services to enhance the overall success of the company. As rightly quoted by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, “A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.”

There was a time when women and minorities were underrepresented in top managerial positions in professional services firms. Gender and racial pay gaps existed, because of which companies suffered higher turnover rates.

  • Today, reports highlight increased gender diversity, with women holding only 29% of management roles that generate revenue.
  • Companies with high engagement rates among employees are 21% more profitable, with 41% lower absenteeism rates.
  • According to research, disengaged employees cost an organization approximately $450-$550 billion every year.
  • A company that showcases a good culture can generate revenue four times more than organizations that don’t.

DEI in professional services remains a critical priority, as it can cultivate diverse and equitable environments that drive business success.

Some of the key initiatives taken towards employing DEI within firms are:

  • Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs
  • Bias Training and Awareness
  • Flexible Work Policies
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Cultivating Inclusive Cultures

Let us find out why DEI is important in the workplace and how to implement DEI in professional services!

Why is DEI Important in Professional Service?


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are all about making a workplace diverse, fair, and inclusive. Let’s discuss the importance of DEI in professional services firms!

  • Diversity means including people as employees from different countries, races, genders, religions, etc.
  • Equity is all about fair treatment, access, and opportunities for all employees.
  • Inclusion revolves around creating environments where diverse individuals feel valued, heard, and respected.
Also Read: DEI in Manufacturing: Challenges & Strategies for Inclusion

Why is DEI Important in Professional Service?

Embracing DEI helps in attracting and retaining talent and enhances organizational performance. By prioritizing Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion, companies can:

  • Promote representation and engagement of individuals from various backgrounds
  • Encourage equality, openness, and belonging
  • Ensure fairness in pay, promote a culture free from bias, and ensure that employees feel

Let us find out more about its significance here:

1. Stronger Decision-Making and Innovation

Diverse teams bring a broader range of experiences and perspectives, which offer new opportunities that enhance resourcefulness.

Research indicates that companies with diverse and inclusive cultures often exceed their financial targets. Gartner’s findings show that gender-diverse teams perform better than their competitors by 50%, on average.

Challenge groupthink and identify potential blind spots – By embracing DEI, businesses acknowledge how employee coordination and shared humanity can lead to a collective benefit. Identifying loopholes, encouraging employees to indulge in brainstorming communication sessions, and battling group thinking ensures every individual is treated fairly.


2. Reflecting the Marketplace

Let us take the example of PwC and Accenture’s DEI focus, which has led to enhanced client satisfaction and business growth. McKinsey & Company’s study shows that 35% of organizations with an ethnic diversity are more likely to attain financial success.

  • Professional services firms serve a diverse clientele with global needs – Cultural competence within diverse teams helps businesses understand client needs, build customized solutions, develop customized strategies, and serve multicultural markets.
  • A diverse workforce provides insights into cultural norms and helps organizations craft solutions that can be personalized according to clients’ cultural contexts. The importance of DEI in professional services firms is reflected in how it eventually enhances overall effectiveness and relevance.
  • diverse workforce allows for a better understanding of cultural nuances and communication styles – Client satisfaction increases when service providers mirror their diversity and showcase their ability to understand and serve diverse clientele. This also improves competitiveness and client retention. Diverse teams can easily sort communication differences and ensure clear and respectful client interactions.
  • Builds trust and strengthens relationships with clients from different backgrounds – Understanding clients’ preferred communication styles also helps businesses build trust, which is critical for long-term relationships.

With DEI in professional services firms, they can address specific challenges and opportunities faced by diverse client groups. Such initiatives, when integrated with CSR goals, attract clients who value social responsibility and ethical practices. These practices also assure them of understanding and respect, which ultimately enhances firms’ credibility.

3. Ethical Imperative

DEI initiatives ensure equal access to opportunities and promote merit-based success. They revolve around identifying and rectifying disparities, which encourages a just and motivated workforce.

DEI efforts create an inclusive workplace where diverse perspectives are valued and ethical principles are promoted. Here are some of its key inclusions and benefits:

  • Fair treatment and equal opportunities lead to higher satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
  • Inclusive workplaces reduce turnover costs by retaining employees through supportive environments.

DEI in professional services firms attracts top talent seeking inclusive workplaces, which enhances recruitment and retention. It further enriches firms with varied skills and perspectives.

Also Read: How To Set Meaningful DEI Metrics?

4. Enhanced Talent Acquisition

DEI initiatives assist firms to comply with anti-discrimination laws and offer equal employment opportunity regulations. This mitigates legal risks and enhances their reputation as ethical employers.

Here are some best practices that firms can follow:

  • Align DEI with corporate social responsibility, promote equity, and offer opportunities for marginalized groups.
  • Offer equal opportunities to empower diverse populations.
  • Attract high-caliber candidates from diverse backgrounds, ensuring access to top performers.
  • DEI commitment gives firms a competitive edge in the talent market.
  • It ensures higher job satisfaction and loyalty and reduces turnover rates.
  • Diverse teams drive innovation and creativity, which is essential for firms to stay competitive.

5. Improved Employee Performance

Employees who feel valued and respected are more likely to be engaged and productive. Here are some ways in which firms can improve employee performance:

  • Firms can reach out to varied communities and eliminate biases in job descriptions. They must also tap into diverse networks for referrals.
  • DEI in professional services firms ensures hiring based on skills and qualifications, disregarding biases. Introducing mentorship programs drives creativity and encourages innovation in problem-solving.
  • Diverse teams better understand client challenges, which helps them personalize solutions. This builds trust and long-term relationships.

6. Competitive Advantage

Many clients, particularly those in diverse industries or with global operations, prioritize firms that show commitment to DEI.

  • Diverse teams offer varied viewpoints, which inculcates creativity and offers fresh insights and solutions.
  • DEI-focused firms build a reputation as inclusive and socially responsible. This attracts clients seeking ethical partners, leading to stronger client relationships.
  • Adhering to Corporate Social Responsibility appeals to clients and makes firms stand out among competitors

Remote Workforce

3 Steps for Professional Services Firms to Build DEI

Let us look at some of the actionable steps that firms can apply to build DEI within their organizations:

Step 1: Build a Diverse Talent Pipeline

Firms can partner with diverse universities and organizations and review job descriptions for inclusivity. Different universities and organizations are known for their diverse student populations and recruitment programs that work closely with diversity-focused student organizations. Firms can offer scholarships, mentorship programs, or workshops to assist diverse students in pursuing careers in professional services.

Here are some best practices:

  • Organizations can review job descriptions and state the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in job postings.
  • Emphasize opportunities for professional growth and development
  • Embrace multiculturalism in the workplace.
  • Organize monthly sessions where employees share about their cultural backgrounds.
  • Avoid microaggressions to create an inclusive and respectful work environment
  • Conduct workshops to create an environment where employees feel safe.
  • Address subtle biases to build stronger, more cohesive teams where everyone feels valued.
  •  Review, assess, and refine DEI initiatives and measure progress against set DEI goals to determine if corrective measures are needed.
  • Develop a clear action plan addressing review findings and outlining steps for improvement.
  • Creating a safe and supportive workplace that promotes DEI in professional services firms involves implementing policies and procedures
  • Protect employees from discrimination and harassment and provide resources for those needing support.

Step 2: Promote Equity in the Workplace

Professional services firms must establish clear, unbiased, and objective standards for evaluating performance, which can be uniformly applied to all staff. It is crucial to maintain transparency in performance metrics so that employees can equally understand evaluation criteria.

Organizations can promote equity at workplaces by following these best practices:

  • Set transparent promotion criteria based on merit and achievements.
  • Introduce a structured promotion process to reduce bias and ensure fairness.
  • Offer regular feedback and guidance to help employees meet advancement expectations and address skill gaps.
  • Conduct equal pay assessments and scrutinize compensation systems to guarantee fair remuneration for similar roles, regardless of gender, race, or other factors.
  • Ensure that employees receive equitable pay for comparable work after considering responsibilities, experience, and qualifications.
  • Conduct regular pay equity evaluations and address their team’s concerns during organizational changes. Research indicates that empathy encourages workplace inclusion, with 50% reporting higher inclusivity under empathetic leaders compared to 17% under less empathetic ones.

Step 3: Cultivate an Inclusive Culture

DEI training is extremely critical for developing understanding within the workforce and promoting a cohesive workplace atmosphere. Proper mentoring, communication, and feedback mechanisms can educate employees on biases, promote respect for diverse backgrounds, and encourage them to champion inclusivity.

By cultivating an inclusive culture, firms can:

  • Help employees gain insights into unfamiliar experiences and challenges.
  • Acknowledge unconscious biases.
  • Encourage stronger, collaborative employee and client relationships.

Firms can cultivate an inclusive culture by:

  • Developing and imparting training sessions on unconscious bias awareness.
  • Educating employees on actively supporting colleagues from diverse backgrounds.
  • Using case studies and role-playing to practice and reinforce DEI principles.
  • Launching mentorship programs from elite resources like Engagedly and encourage knowledge sharing, skill development, and personal growth.
  • Encouraging transparent communication and active listening, which builds trust, understanding, and innovation.
  • Developing DEI training programs for all staff and conducting interactive workshops


Also Read: How Can Women Advance in HR Leadership


The bottom line is that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are a strategic need for professional services firms. It is now just about moral obligations. Professional service firms must prioritize DEI initiatives, to encourage innovation and talent acquisition. Conduct mentorship and engaging programs for employees, and follow actionable steps to build a diverse talent pool.

Such practices can promote equity within the firm, and cultivate an inclusive culture. These practices are imperative for creating a more equitable and thriving workplace environment. Through DEI, firms can attract top talent, satisfy clients, and drive long-term business success.

Choosing Engagedly as your trusted advisor and allowing the professionals will help you incorporate DEI within your workplace. You can make the most of employee mentorship programs, and encourage employee engagement with the required DEI know-how and expertise.

Employee Career Development

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is DEI important in professional service?

DEI in professional services revolves around organizational policies, programs, and practices that encourage employees, build a diverse team, and promote an equitable workplace.

2. How to promote DEI in professional services firms?

Leaders can promote DEI in professional services by exercising policies, encouraging inclusive behaviors, setting clear DEI goals, and ensuring diverse representation. Firms can create inclusive, equitable, and thriving workplace environments by:

  • Engaging, training, and educating employees.
  • Creating supportive policies
  • Organizing mentoring programs
  • Hiring diverse talent

3. How can mentoring programs help enhance DEI in professional services?

Mentoring programs initiated within the organization can promote DEI as it:

  • Encourages education and helps organizations craft personalized solutions.
  • Enhances empathetic leadership, empowers leaders and employees, and integrates DEI into branding.
  • Improves communication, contributes to skill enhancement, and helps employees better understand company culture with accountability.

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Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

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