DEI Dialogue


Written by:
Cathy Nestrick (she/her)
DEI Leader / Co-Host, Parity Podcast; Former VP and General Counsel, Berry Global Group, Inc.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) offer many benefits, giving organizations that create DEI initiatives a competitive advantage. SPE created the DEI Advisory Board to educate the plastics industry and to encourage more organizations to capitalize on these benefits (see articles in September 2021 Plastics Engineering: Winning Strategy and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Manufacturing). This is Part 2 of a 2-part series focused on (1) What is DEI? and (2) The Business Benefits of DEI. If you missed Part 1, read it here

What are the business benefits of DEI? 

DEI improves workplace outcomes in several ways and is a play on “two heads are better than one.” Two identical heads are not better than one, but two different heads are better than one because of the new ideas, innovation and creativity offered by someone with a different point of view. 

When I first started working in the DEI space several years ago, I wanted to see the evidence. I’m a lawyer by trade and I rely on evidence, much like engineers and scientists rely on data. We are fortunate to be at a moment in time when there are several studies—some of which have been conducted year over year—concluding that DEI increases profitability, creativity and innovation including the following:  

  • Increasing the number of women in leadership roles increases profitability according to studies conducted by McKinsey, the Peterson Institute and Gartner. 
  • Increasing employees who identify as Black, Indigenous or other people of color (BIPOC) increases profitability by even larger margins per McKinsey and Gartner.  
  • 80 percent of employees across all industries report that DEI is important to them but only 33 percent believe that leaders are doing enough (CNBC survey), so increasing the role of DEI will result in greater workforce satisfaction and lower turnover. 
  • Businesses with greater diversity are more likely to out-innovate and capture new markets per Harvard Business Review. 

In addition to these business benefits, DEI also satisfies customer expectations. Increasingly, customers ask suppliers not only whether they have DEI strategies, but also whether those strategies are resulting in the hiring and advancement of more people from underrepresented groups. DEI is not going away. Even if your customers are not yet making these inquiries, it is wise for organizations to start working on DEI programs to stay competitive. 

Finally, it’s important to add that DEI is also the right thing to do. Most of us believe that people should be given equal opportunities and equal wages for the same work, and that our differences should be respected and celebrated. Implementing DEI strategies ensures that these principles serve as the foundation for hiring, development, advancement and termination decisions at all levels of organizations.  

Next month, we will explore unconscious bias: what it is and how it can impede the best of intentions.

Cathy Nestrick is a retired executive in the plastics industry, the founder and co-host of Parity Podcast focused on accelerating gender equality, and a DEI thought leader and speaker. You can find her on LinkedIn or

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