The Strategic Depth Theory of Diversity & Inclusion
By Peter Clark
It would be easy to assume that the increase in workplace Diversity and Inclusion programs was caused by corporate executives becoming more politically progressive. Is this even true? Per Fos, Kempf, and Tsoutsoura (2022), approximately; 69 % of corporate executives identify as Republicans. If this uptick in D&I programs is not connected political orientation of leadership, what can explain this phenomenon? One potential cause for this shift could be firms wanting to avoid discrimination lawsuits. Lawsuits are monetarily costly and detrimental to the company’s reputation and impact future sales.
This is what the Strategic Depth Theory of Diversity & Inclusion attempts to answer. Strategic Depth is a concept from military strategy; defined as “… the distances between the front lines or battle sectors and the combatants’ industrial core areas, capital cities, heartlands, and other key centers of population or military production..." (Harkavy, 2001). Similar to how Israel gained Strategic Depth from the acquisition of the Westbank (Eisenkot, 1997), corporations obtain this geopolitical advantage by distancing themselves from the litigious incident by cultivating D&I programs. The Executives can then claim that the firm does not condone discriminatory behavior, effectively creating distance between the plaintiff and the firm.