MRA survey shows increase in organizations with DEI initiatives


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion remains a hot topic for organizations as more and more groups begin to tackle DEI issues, a recent Hot Topic Survey by MRA shows. 

The Midwest-based nonprofit employer association, whose regional locations include Moline, recently released the results of the survey it conducted with more than 475 attendees at its annual DEI Leadership Conference and an additional 325 organizations who took the survey. 

The results show that 21% of organizations have implemented a formal DEI initiative – a 7% increase from the previous year. 

MRA, the nation’s largest employer association, serves 4,500 employers, covering more than 1 million employees worldwide. It is headquartered in Wisconsin.

“It’s exciting to see the continued energy that is behind DEI and hearing from organizations no matter where they are on their DEI journeys,” Diana Small, MRA’s regional executive director, said in a news release announcing the DEI survey results. “In my 30-plus years in HR I am inspired now more than ever by the efforts I am seeing.”

“It’s not about checking a box. It’s about creating a real space where all employees feel welcomed, appreciated, supported, and encouraged to contribute their true selves,” she added. “When that happens, creative problem-solving takes place, innovative ideas are shared, and it’s proven that productivity increases. That’s a win for us all.”

Setting goals, metrics crucial

MRA’s findings suggest setting goals and metrics to measure a DEI program’s success is crucial and having dedicated individuals or departments responsible for DEI initiatives can ensure the program is sustainable.

According to MRA’s survey, the top three reasons organizations are investing in DEI efforts are:

  • HR team/Senior Leadership is vested in building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture (82%).
  • Efforts to build an inclusive culture (66%).
  • The challenges of recruiting/retaining diverse talent (40%) and it’s in our corporate mission/vision/values (40%).

The top DEI initiatives that organizations have implemented or are considering include: training on DEI topics for all employees and leaders; establishing DEI teams to enhance initiatives and programs; and offering harassment prevention training.   

Develop long-term strategy

Developing a long-term strategy that engages employees and leadership and aids in finding the proper method of communication can take time and effort, MRA said in the release. 

Of those surveyed, 59% said they have turned to professional peer groups when building a DEI program, while 49% have used a DEI consultant. While 42% said they face the challenge of engaging employees, and 40% say they have a challenge engaging leadership.

The preferred method to overcome the challenge of engaging employees is to offer DEI learning opportunities for supervisors and employees, followed by company-provided resources.

“Start wherever you are but start now! DEI is not easy, but there is value in investing in DEI efforts,” said Mitch Thomas, MRA’s executive director for Western Illinois and Iowa, based in Moline. “Regardless of where your organization is in the process, ensuring your employees are heard, appreciated, and valued can help lay the groundwork for a successful program.”

The Hot Topic DEI survey was conducted Sept. 18-22 with 325 organizations participating in the 12-question survey. For more information or a more detailed copy, contact MRA’s Survey Department at (800) 488.4845, ext. 3508, or email at

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