Sep 15, 2022 - News

North Texas businesses need more data-driven DEI policies, report finds

Illustration of a board room table with 8 chairs, one of them a different color, surrounded by abstract shapes.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

A new report by the Dallas Regional Chamber found that businesses in North Texas are mostly doing well with parental leave and mental health benefits, but they have a long way to go when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion — often referred to as DEI.

Driving the news: The chamber released the 40-page report with Kanarys, a Dallas-based tech company that focuses on diversity and equity policies, at a State of DEI event Tuesday.

Why it matters: In 2018, the Urban Institute ranked Dallas at 272 out of 274 of the largest U.S. cities in overall inclusion, 270 for economic inclusion and 246 for racial inclusion.

Threat level: Chamber leaders said at Tuesday's event that they decided to do the benchmark report because they didn't feel good about the ranking.

  • "We wanted to lay the foundation of where we are, but also be very transparent about what are the needs in our region that exist and how we can use this data to grow our communities and provide better opportunities to be a more inclusive region," said Latosha Herron Bruff, who leads the DRC's inclusion and community engagement efforts.

What they did: The benchmark comes out of assessments completed by 101 of the chamber's 398 members with an active DEI contact.

Advocates for sustainable development in North Texas speak at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s State of DEI event on Tuesday. Photo: Joseph Haubert/DRC

What they found: There is a lot of room for improvement in employee recruitment, supplier diversity and board diversity, per the report.

  • Only 44% of participants had measurable goals to ensure their board is diverse, and only 10% work with diversity organizations to source candidates for their board, the benchmark found.
  • Only 29% of participants have their chief diversity officer report directly to the CEO, which the report identifies as a best practice for DEI work.

What they're saying: Inclusion must reach beyond gender and ethnicity, taking into account less obvious attributes including LGBTQ status, disabilities, veteran status, age, family status and neurodiversity, per the report.

  • Companies undertaking pay equity audits don't often have a plan for how they'll address any inequities that are uncovered, and the report says that should change.

What's next: The chamber plans to circulate its findings among businesses across North Texas so they can see how they compare against other businesses and possibly identify improvements.

  • "If we don't measure it and we don't do the work, we can't get better," Kanarys co-founder Mandy Price said.

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