Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., November 9, 2021

Gartner HR Research Finds Organizations are Falling Short on Leveraging Managers to Champion DEI Efforts

Gartner Experts Share Best Practices to Create A More Fair Work Environment at the Virtual Gartner ReimagineHR Americas Conference 2021

Despite managers’ unique position on the frontline, managers in most organizations serve as mere supporters of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives rather than owners of DEI outcomes, according to Gartner, Inc.

Key issues facing HR leaders, including how to leverage managers to create a fairer work environment, are at the focus of the Gartner ReimagineHR conference, taking place virtually in the Americas through tomorrow, Wednesday, November 10.

Manager decisions – defining hiring requirements, selecting candidates to interview and ultimately deciding who to hire – influence a variety of DEI outcomes. Outside of talent acquisition, managers are also responsible for retaining and developing employees for promotion.

Managers are at the center of fair treatment for their employees, so it’s important to determine if managers are truly making fair and consistent decisions when it comes to performance evaluation, employee development and growth,” said Katie Sutherland, senior principal, advisory in the Gartner HR practice.

Gartner research reveals:

  • Fifty percent of candidates who experience bias in their interactions with hiring managers will discontinue their application, according to a survey of 357 candidates in June 2021.
  • Underrepresented talent groups are 2.5 times more likely to face barriers in progressing to senior roles because of their managers.
  • Employees are 63% less likely to be high performers when their managers do not celebrate gender and cultural differences in the team.

In owning DEI outcomes, managers are making a commitment to making fair and equitable decisions. Gartner research shows that in organizations with managers who are ethical and transparent in their decision making, employees are 3 times more likely to be high performers, 1.5 times more likely to continue working for their employer and nearly 3 times more likely to feel included.

Gartner recommends organizations undertake three shifts to empower managers to take ownership of creating a diverse, fair and inclusive work environment:

Take Ownership for Addressing Systemic Bias

Managers need to dig deeper, beyond their personal bias, to address systemic bias in their organizations. In fact, managers’ unique position on the frontline allows them the perspective and reach required to challenge the status quo and push for further initiatives in eliminating systemic bias. Managers should first examine existing talent processes and reflect on where bias might creep in, and how that bias impacts underrepresented talent. Often, managers are poised to seek diverse perspectives – from their team members, from employee resource groups (ERGs), and from diverse leadership – that can offer insights on a new, more equitable path forward.

Advocate for Underrepresented Talent

Managers often take a “one size fits all” approach to managing their team, without understanding the unique needs or challenges of their team members. Instead, managers need to invest in deeper understanding of the unique needs and challenges of underrepresented talent groups and take responsibility for advocating for these employees.

“HR and DEI leaders need to support managers with the necessary tools to build authentic relationships with the underrepresented talent on their teams, so that they have a better, more holistic view of their team members and can advocate for them appropriately,” said Sutherland. 

In order to advocate for their underrepresented team members, managers must ensure that the relationships are underpinned by trust. Ensuring that managers and employees have trust-based conversations enables them to build more authentic relationships. With strong relationships in place, managers are better positioned to provide underrepresented talent with fair and equitable treatment, and ensure others do the same.

Incorporate Inclusion Into Day-to-day Activities

Many managers try to foster inclusion on their team, but do so as an additive activity – attending and providing trainings for their teams on unconscious bias and celebrating societal milestones, such as International Women’s Day and Pride Month. Rather than promoting inclusion based on events, managers today need to actively build inclusion into their regular routines.

“When inclusion is built into the way managers make decisions – communicating, managing projects and coaching in an inclusive way – it feels less daunting and more actionable,” added Sutherland.


About the Gartner ReimagineHR Conference

Gartner experts are discussing key workplace issues during the virtual Gartner ReimagineHR Conference, taking place virtually in the Americas November 8-10. This conference brings together a community of trailblazers, thought leaders and industry experts pushing the bounds of human resources. CHROs and HR leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering talent acquisition, diversity, equity and inclusion, learning and development, total rewards, talent analytics, and HR technology. Follow news and updates from the conference on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.

About the Gartner HR Practice

The Gartner HR practice brings together the best relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at Follow news and updates from the Gartner HR practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerHR.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit