The 5 “Why?”s and DEI

Many companies that struggle with DEI-related issues are quick to jump to recruiting to solve the issue.  However, the root cause of your issues may be related to employees not feeling they belong, or have opportunities for advancement.

Recruiting will not solve this problem, and you will very likely increase your turnover if you launch into recruiting without getting to the root cause of your issues.

This is where the “5 Why?s” approach can really help.  To use this approach, start with a problem statement, and then ask why that problem exists.  Once you have that answer, ask why again, and continue until you have 5 why questions answered. 

Here is an example:

Problem: We have very few women in senior leadership roles

Why? Because we do not have any women in the internal pipeline for these roles

Why? Because mid-management women tend to leave

Why? Because we have rigid promotion criteria and timing, and a strict up-or-out policy

Why? Because that’s how we have always done things

Why? Because that is what worked when the company was founded 

As you can see, this approach identifies multiple areas to explore to solve the problem.  It’s also easy to imagine multiple answers for the “why” questions.  If this happens for you, list them all and continue down the why path for each one.

This is a terrific exercise to do as a group, whether it be within an ERG, with a meeting of all ERG leaders, in a DEI Committee, in a Culture Council meeting, or as some other working or project team.  The more inclusive the process, the better it will work because you will have a wider representation of employees answering the whys and brainstorming potential solutions.

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