Why You Need A DEI Executive Search Firm

“DEI,” short for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, is a term that’s been in use within certain circles since the late 1990s but has only recently found its way into mainstream usage. Much of this can be attributed to growing awareness of and support for social justice movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter over the last several years.

Watching the sudden, explosive proliferation of DEI statements on corporate websites, it’s easy to dismiss the term as yet another trendy abbreviation enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. Nevertheless, to write off DEI as a passing fad would be a critical mistake for leaders in business.

While terminology is constantly in flux, the underlying concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion are here to stay, and for businesses looking to remain viable in today’s changing world, a deep, nuanced understanding of DEI is an existential necessity. For those playing catch-up, a good first step is to retain a DEI executive search firm for your next executive search.


Though recent decades have seen some progress towards diversity in leadership, the composition of top-level corporate leadership remains overwhelmingly skewed towards whiteness and maleness. This is true both in absolute composition and relative to the larger population of the United States. For example, in 2022, only 44 Fortune 500 CEOs are women – i.e. less than 9% – and that number is a record high. This is obviously a case of gross underrepresentation, given that the gender balance of the population is relatively static, with women comprising slightly over 50% of the population at any given time.

The racial makeup of the U.S., meanwhile, is steadily growing more diverse, such that by the mid-2040s at the latest, the majority of Americans will be members of a racial minority group. While the prevalence of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) CxOs is also increasing, it will need to grow even faster to keep pace with the underlying population demographics.

The bottom line is that corporate America remains far removed from the American public in terms of its composition, and without a significant increase in the pace of change, it will remain so for quite some time. Setting aside the injustice of the situation (which is very real and not to be minimized), this is a significant practical problem for businesses that fail to stay ahead of the curve.

A business whose C-suite’s composition is radically different from that of its rank and file (to say nothing of the larger markets and communities it serves) runs the risk of falling out of touch.

On the other hand, a diverse leadership team is likely better attuned to the needs and concerns of the increasingly diverse general public.


Executive search firms specializing in DEI are a tremendous resource for companies looking to recruit diverse executives. There are several reasons for this:

  • A wider lens. Firms with a longstanding commitment to recruiting diverse executives have traditionally had to look outside conventional channels to identify strong diverse candidates. While this is changing to some extent as diversity increases within the traditional pipelines to leadership, DEI executive search firms are still far ahead of the pack in this regard. An executive search firm specializing in DEI will have a wider rolodex of diverse candidates to contact and thus has a better chance of knowing exactly the right person for the job.
  • Reputation, reputation, reputation. Executive search firms with a strong track record of placing diverse talent in roles that make optimal use of their skills are thus much more attractive from the perspective of the candidate.
  • Inclusion is a skill. Many organizations have learned the hard way that diversity-driven recruiting isn’t enough on its own. For a company with a preexisting diversity problem, retaining diverse talent is its own challenge. For this reason, Ellig Group offers a variety of auxiliary services such as onboarding support and cultural analysis, which help ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between the newly recruited executive and the company.


Ellig Group’s origins date back to the founding of its legacy firm, Gould McCoy, in 1977. Now a Certified Women-Owned Business with an unmatched drive for purpose, Ellig Group has, throughout its history, been driven by an unwavering commitment to gender parity in the C-suites and boardrooms of the corporate world. As a multiple-bestselling author on the topics of leadership and career growth for women, CEO Janice Ellig is a true thought leader in the field, known and respected by corporate leaders and candidates alike. Janice supervises every executive and board search the firm takes on, giving every client and every engagement the full benefit of her expertise and professional network.

In today’s social climate, demand for DEI-focused executive search has never been higher, and that’s a wonderful thing. Nevertheless, as supply grows to meet that demand, prospective clients would do well to perform due diligence on any firm trumpeting its devotion to DEI. Ellig Group welcomes such inquiry, secure in the knowledge that their reputation, statistical track record, and satisfied clients all point to the same conclusion: Ellig Group is the #1 purpose-driven boutique DEI executive search firm.

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