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The Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Benchmarks



  1. Is the GDEIB an Open Source Document?

    No. Open Source is a software term that refers to an item that is free, can be used and amended by others, and that derivatives can be made without permission. At times, the term is used to refer to work other than software. The GDEIB is free. However, to use it the User Agreement must be signed, so it is not considered an open-source document. While the GDEIB can be customized, there are limitations to the customization, and derivatives may not be created without permission. GDEIB was developed by the authors and 112 Expert Panellists. Some customized versions may result in changes that invalidate the work.

  2. To What Degree Can We Customize the GDEIB?

    If you change the word “employees” to “associates,” or make similar terminology changes, that would be acceptable. If you want to add your organization logo or include a message from an executive or your DEI Council, that would be welcomed. Changing the model to remove one of the four groups would be too radical a change to the GDEIB and we would not give you permission to do that. Likewise, moving benchmarks from the beginning levels into the more advanced levels would be an inappropriate change. The integrity of the opinions of the authors and the Expert Panelists must be respected. See the GDEIB Permission Agreement and the GDEIB Style Guide on The Diversity Collegium website for more specific information or contact the authors. Making these changes may require a fee as we have standards for maintaining a consistent graphical appearance and accessibility tags.

  3. If the GDEIB Is Free, Why Is Permission To Use It Needed? How Do You Obtain Permission?

    The goal of the GDEIB is to improve the quality of DEI work around the world. Permission is required because we want to be in contact with users and encourage them to contribute to the quality of DEI work worldwide. Our goal is to keep the GDEIB up-to-date and as useful as possible by users sharing experiences, best practices, and ideas for improvement. In addition, we want to ensure that the GDEIB is used with integrity and maintains a collaborative essence. Both of these elements have been central to the document's functionality since its development... Finally, we want to provide users with updated editions when available. Please note that the User Agreement contains the answers to many other questions.

  4. What Size Organization Can Benefit Most From Working With the GDEIB?

    Medium and large organizations would benefit most because they potentially have more resources to deploy the staff, programs, and activities needed to achieve the benchmarks. That said, we believe small organizations will also find these useful, although more customization may be required. It should be noted that small organizations may be just as capable of reaching the higher level benchmarks as medium and large ones, but the benchmarks may need to be adjusted slightly. For example, a small organization may not have a board of directors. If that is the case, that benchmark would not be applicable.

  5. How Does the GDEIB Address Legal Requirements?

    Legal requirements (such as Employment Equity and disabilities legislation) are an important aspect of DEI work. Some categories, such as Category 4: Recruitment, Development, and Advancement, will be impacted by the various legal requirements in different countries more than other categories. Because legislation varies by state, province, and country, each organization using the GDEIB will need to ensure compliance with legislation in its diversity work. Many organizations make it a point to state that their DEI work extends beyond what is required by law.

  6. How Can We Apply the GDEIB, When Some Countries Have Laws Forbidding Certain Types of Diversity?

    We rely on the judgment and discretion of GDEIB users to determine which of the benchmarks are appropriate in their country or locale. Furthermore, laws often lag behind norms related to DEI. That said, the authors and Expert Panellists feel we have an obligation to see the world for what it should be, as well as for what it is. Without this perspective, many of the ideas and benchmarks in the GDEIB would be excluded. We also recognize that idealism cannot always compensate for deep-seated social and political realities. The GDEIB represents what we believe to be the highest levels of DEI work. It is up to each individual—and each organization—to determine how to balance the ideas described here with the contextual understanding that comes from living in an imperfect world.

  7. Is There a Values Basis for the GDEIB?

    Yes, indirectly. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights published by the United Nations in 1948 is a worldwide platform supporting a range of global values including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. There are also several related UN conventions that impact DEI directly, such as the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, in September 2015 the United Nations Heads of State and Government and High Representatives declared support for Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Several of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals mention inclusion directly. In keeping with this agenda, a category on Connecting DEI and Sustainability has been added to this 2021 GDEIB edition.

  8. Is the Field Too Young To Have Benchmarks or Standards?

    Definitely not. By most accounts, the DEI field has been in existence for five or six decades in some countries. Over this time, a vast collection of papers, articles, conference proceedings, books, benchmarking studies, and websites have shared collective practices many consider to be examples of quality work. While each organization or community must construct its own best practice, the GDEIB can greatly aid that construction. Furthermore, when best practices are shared more broadly across countries, regions, industries, and sectors, collective advances in DEI will have a greater and more sustainable impact.

  9. What Organizations Are Considered Best Practice Organizations in D&I?

    Stories about DEI best-practice organizations appear frequently in the professional literature, social media, and blogs, and presentations on best practices are popular at many conferences. Often these are large organizations that have been doing this work for some time, have experienced DEI functions, and invest time and resources into their efforts. It is likely that many organizations can claim best practices (GDEIB Level 5) for some of the 14 categories, but not for all. We are confident that there are many other best-practice organizations that are not well known.

  10. How Can You Be Sure the GDEIB Crosses Cultures?

    Culture is a fluid concept. In each region of the world, different diversity dimensions will be more crucial, and there will be different approaches to DEI concepts and practices. Each organization in the different regions of the world should adapt and customize the GDEIB to the specific characteristics of their country/culture. Culture-specific knowledge and competence are extremely important in this process.

  11. Why Isn’t There a Category on Organizational Culture in the GDEIB?

    We define organizational culture as a system of shared beliefs, values, norms, habits, and assumptions that impact the organization’s environment and influence how people behave within it. The authors and Expert Panellists concluded that it would be difficult to develop a category on culture and five levels of benchmarks without making assumptions about what an organization’s culture should be. That seems too prescriptive for what we are striving to accomplish with the GDEIB. Just as we say that the GDEIB applies to and is useful in organizations of a variety of sizes, sectors, and approaches, the GDEIB is also useful in a variety of organizational cultures.

    In addition, certain aspects of organizational or national cultures may assist or hinder the implementation of DEI initiatives and/or the ability of an organization to achieve the benchmarks. These aspects of organizational or national culture should be taken into account when embarking on any DEI initiative or strategy.


  1. What is a Benchmark?

    A benchmark is another word for an organizational standard of performance. Benchmarks are usually described in language stated as an end result or outcome. They help people in organizations identify and describe high-quality results or aspirations and to assess progress over time. In a young eld such as D&I, it is important to develop benchmarks, since what people consider excellent work may vary significantly due to different perspectives and cultural contexts.

  2. What Is Benchmarking?

    Benchmarking is the process of comparing your organization to other organizations that are regarded as having successfully accomplished what your organization wants to achieve. Sometimes organizations benchmark within their organization (across divisions and regions for example); other times they benchmark across or within sectors, sizes, or industries, or with specific organizations. Such benchmarking can be time-consuming and expensive. The GDEIB can effectively replace that type of benchmarking and be a more cost-effective method for discovering what others consider excellent DEI work.

  3. Are the Benchmarks in the GDEIB Aspirational or Proven Best Practices?

    They are proven best practices according to the collective opinion of the authors and the Expert Panellists. The benchmarks — especially those at the upper levels—will be aspirational. It is up to each organization to set goals to achieve the benchmarks they set for their organization.

  4. How Many Benchmarks Are in the GDEIB?

    There are a total of 266 benchmarks in 14 categories and four groups. Benchmarks in Levels 4 and 5 are the most important to strive for.

  5. Do These Benchmarks Apply to All Sectors and Countries?

    Yes. We have written the GDEIB to apply to a broad variety of types of organizations and sectors, including for-profit, nonprofit, education, healthcare, government, and community. In our efforts to make the benchmarks as universal as possible, we have used general terminology and avoided addressing such specifics as curriculum in education, life-saving cultural interventions in healthcare, shareholder return processes, and so forth. Those specifics, however, should be developed by the organization as a part of its strategic plan and actions as described in Category 1: DEI Vision, Strategy, and Business Case. The terminology in some categories, such as Category 12: Products and Services Development and Category 13: Marketing and Customer Service, may need to be customized based on the sector and its stakeholders. Using familiar terminology, while keeping the intent of the benchmarks, is likely to help the GDEIB be more acceptable to users.

  6. How Do Benchmarks Relate to Competencies and Behaviors?

    Benchmarks are organizational standards stated as outcomes. Competencies and behaviors describe the actions, steps, skills, knowledge, ability, and capability of individuals. Clearly, meeting the higher-level benchmarks will require a high level of competence.


  1. What Consensus Approach Did You Use to Construct the GDEIB?

    Our approach in generating consensus involved a systematic, recursive, and rigorous process of collecting expert input, combining suggestions, cross-checking ideas, and submitting changes for further review and comment. We purposely collected the wisdom of a very diverse group of practitioners from various fields, including academia, government, nonprofits, corporations, and the consulting world, applying a consensus model that accelerates the usual way in which a field of study or practice evolves on the basis of common agreement and peer review.

    By bringing together the insights of this diverse group of experts and deriving their common understanding of the essential elements of diverse and inclusive organizations at various stages of development, we have sought to ensure that the GDEIB reflects the current consensus regarding practices in the field.

  2. What Was the Beginning of the GDEIB and How Have the Editions Evolved?

    In 2006 we began with the Benchmarks for Diversity, published by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a government organization in the United States. The original researchers were Kate Atchley, JoAnne Howell, Gerald Landon (who is a current GDEIB Expert Panellist), Vergil Metts, and Hector Qirko. Because Benchmarks for Diversity were developed with federal U.S. funds, it was not copyrighted.

    That document was updated and revised by the GDEIB authors and sent to the Expert Panellists asking for comments and suggestions. Those were compiled by the authors and then sent again to the Expert Panelists so they could review and comment on the edits made by the other Expert Panellists. The authors finalized the work, making judgments on what to accept and what not to accept, although most suggestions were accepted unless there was a conflict.

    For 2011 the Expert Panellist group was expanded, with some original members leaving and new ones joining. The review process began with the 2006 version and a process similar to the one used to create the 2006 version was conducted.

    For the 2014 edition, the Expert Panellists were given the option to contribute suggestions for improvement regarding the look and feel of the 2011 GDEIB as well as improvements to the introductory material.

    For this 2016 Tenth Anniversary edition, we continued the research process as described above. The number of Expert Panellists engaged in this edition is 95, including many who worked on the earlier editions. See the section on Expert Panellists for a list of all who worked on the 2016 edition. In addition to updating the benchmarks themselves to reflect current practices, we changed the conceptual frameworks to approaches for DEI to reflect the way DEI work is currently practiced. We added a new category on Connecting DEI and Sustainability, a description of the Ultimate Goals of DEI, an explanation of practicing DEI work as a systems approach, and revised the model.

  3. What Supports the Claim That the Benchmarks at the Highest Level Are Best Practices?

    A best practice is an approach or way of working that helps an organization reach its goals. A best practice is also something that organizations can measure or assess. We believe the benchmarks at the highest level are current best practices for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion around the world based on the experience of our Expert Panellists. However, what is a best practice for one organization may not be a best practice or a relevant practice for another one.

GDEIB Expert Panellists & Authors

  1. Who is on the Expert Panel and What are Their Contributions?

    Because the GDEIB is the collective viewpoint of the Expert Panellists, the range of their diverse perspectives is critically important. Although there is no way to construct a perfect collection of “diverse” people with diverse experiences, the authors believe they have selected a solid group of Expert Panellists.

    The depth and breadth of the GDEIB are a testament to the process of including different viewpoints and perspectives. Not all members of the Expert Panel agree with all items and statements in this document. Despite all attempts to be as universal and all-inclusive — of organization size, sector, region of the world, diversity approach, diversity dimensions, industry, and so forth — as possible, the truth is that most people are at least somewhat centric on the various diversities they know best. Therein lies the value of having an expert panel composed of a diverse group of people.

    Because people move across both countries and organizations, and many have extensive global experience not limited to their current affiliation or location, we have listed names without affiliation, title, or location.

  2. Is There a Way To View the Expert Panellists and Their Bios?

    A list of the Expert Panellists and Authors who have worked on the 2021 Edition of the GDEIB is available as a downloadable PDF, which also contains short biographical sketches and contact information. Many have served as Expert Panellists since the 2006 edition. Also on the downloadable PDF are bios of the two authors and a list of former Expert Panellists.

  3. How Were the Expert Panellists Selected?

    In addition, all members of the GDEIB’s first home, The Diversity Collegium, were invited to become Expert Panellists. Most chose to do so.

    The authors determined the selection criteria, which are designed to result in a diverse group of experts who would be willing and able to contribute to the GDEIB. Each person needed to have expertise in a broad scope of DEI work or a specific sector/type of organization, approach to diversity, culture, world region, and so forth. In addition, we sought a variety of life experience that is represented by race, gender, sexual orientation, social class, nationality, generation, age, education, disability, personality type, and so forth. We were interested in the totality of their experience, not their current organizational position or location around the world. Then the authors invited those they knew who met these criteria and then sought suggestions from them to recommend others. As the process evolved, the authors searched for areas where they felt additional expertise or a diversity dimension was needed.

  4. How Will Future Expert Panellists Be Selected?

    Future Expert Panellists will be selected in a similar manner as they have been selected in the past—using criteria and networking with the goal of creating a group willing to do the work of constructing the next edition and having the varied backgrounds to do so. It is a volunteer assignment. If you want to recommend yourself or others to become an Expert Panellist, please contact The Centre.

    A best practice is an approach or way of working that helps an organization reach its goals. A best practice is also something that organizations can measure or assess. We believe the benchmarks at the highest level are current best practices for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion around the world based on the experience of our Expert Panellists. However, what is a best practice for one organization may not be a best practice or a relevant practice for another one.

  5. What Is the Role and Responsibility of the Authors?
    1. Are ultimately responsible for the final content
    2. Make final decisions on who becomes an Expert Panellist
    3. Manage the development and promotion of the GDEIB
    4. Manage the permissions and use process