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  • Increasing DII - Using Behavioral Strategies Combined With Data Science to Affect Org. Change
    Increasing DII - Using Behavioral Strategies Combined With Data Science to Affect Org. Change
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Learn More About Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio

Organizations have access to more data than ever before. But knowing more about customers and employees doesn’t always make it any easier for leaders to make decisions. How can leaders improve their talent and innovation processes using the data already at their fingertips?

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio (pronounced “CHECK-ee dee-MEG-lee-oh”), a prominent expert in behavioral and data science, leadership and inclusivity, says, “Leaders require data to illuminate the path ahead, because without data, uncertainty can rattle the business and bring decision-making to a halt.” With over two decades of experience in big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and a deep expertise of the interplay between race, gender and leadership, she emphasizes, “Data gives a solid foundation to help leaders identify and select opportunities, build consensus, break silos, and wire their businesses for agile, optimal centers of talent and innovation.”

Cecchi-Dimeglio serves as the co-founder and Faculty Chair of the Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at Harvard Law School and holds the position of Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Center on the Legal Profession. Leveraging her expertise, she guides organizations in forming decision-making tactics that are rooted in facts and inclusive by design.

The founder of People Culture Drive Consulting group (PCD Consulting), a strategic data-driven and behavioral-science consulting firm with offices in the U.S, Europe and the U.K,  focusing on improving organizations’ decision-making processes to level the playing field, Cecchi-Dimeglio is truly an “architect of data.” Having partnered with Fortune 500 companies, governments and large non-profits, across the world to design and implement behavioral interventions, foster inclusive leadership and create truly diverse teams, she blends academic rigor and practical experience to holistically analyze the data available to an organization. After identifying patterns and barriers that exist in the data, leaders are equipped to confidently construct new processes that align with strategy. These procedures are designed to flex and scale no matter how the business environment changes, providing a sure path forward into an unclear future.

“When you’re strategically moving a company into the next 30 years, you need to understand the data in front of you in order to ensure that your employees’ decisions are leading to the outcomes you want,” explains Cecchi-Dimeglio, whose Forbes column provides essential guidance on leadership strategy, communication and AI. “Decision is a compounding effect, so collectively, you’ll get better decisions over time.”

Cecchi-Dimeglio’s frameworks leverage scientific insights and data, showcasing the potency of nudging in strategic problem-solving and leadership decisions. She sheds light on nuanced cues that employers can use, promoting positive employee actions that align with company goals. An inventor who holds several patents for software and SAAS tools that help de-bias performance reviews, her scalable strategies directly tie results to tracked data, instead of “gut feelings,” taking the weight of decision-making off leaders’ shoulders and giving them confidence as they move forward. Cecchi-Dimeglio offers advice for leaders to create their journey to success.

Safely Leveraging AI for Inclusive Decision-Making

As the co-founder and faculty chair of the Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at Harvard Law School and affiliated faculty at Harvard Kennedy School, Cecchi-Dimeglio has a long track record of helping organizations harness the power of data to foster inclusivity. This is on full display in her new book, “Diversity Dividend: The Transformational Power of Small Changes to Debias Your Company, Attract Diverse Talent, Manage Everyone Better and Make More Money” (MIT Press, September 2023), which takes a systemic approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, breaking down the “people life cycle” in organizations and providing science-backed solutions that drive successful DEI outcomes. Called a “game-changer” by renowned leadership expert Amy Edmondson, it’s received high praise from business leaders, academics and lawyers, including executive board members of Shell, London Stock Exchange, the World Bank and the UN. Elizabeth L. Hillman, President & CEO of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum says, “Read this tour de force to learn everything from AI,” and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, member of the Board of Directors of Estée Lauder Companies, The Economist Group, Bronfman E.L. Rothschild LP and Christies International, recognizes, “Paola’s book is full of actionable insights for leaders seeking to enhance innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction.”

Tackling one pain point at a time – from hiring and recognition to the pay gap and promotions – Cecchi-Dimeglio describes the interventions and experiments organizations can use to effectively “de-bias” their real-world and AI systems, retain a diverse student body in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action, and raise the presence of women and underrepresented groups in tech.

“Businesses often rely on AI to de-bias their hiring processes, but we cannot simply delegate to algorithms and hope for the best,” Cecchi-Dimeglio warns. “While blatant algorithm bias sometimes makes the news, most of the discrimination carried out by algorithm-fed AI never gets on anyone’s radar. Ethical oversight of emerging and experimental tech calls for better ‘teaching’ and testing of these consequential tools. Everything is new, but novelty cannot excuse the bias.” 

Empowering and encouraging, Cecchi-Dimeglio helps leaders move their organization into a future where decisions are informed by data, biases are minimized, and all employees feel invited to contribute their best ideas. Always looking ahead, she offers sound advice to visionary leaders:

“Buckle up! You’re going to be amazed by what AI has coming.”

# # #

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, Ph.D., is an award-winning expert on behavioral and data science, Big Data & AI, leadership and strategy, gender and diversity, and the legal profession. She serves as faculty chair of the Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys (ELRIWMA), which under her leadership has become a leading research initiative on diversity research and interventions since she co-founded it in 2014 at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School, in the Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP).

Cecchi-Dimeglio has authored over 60 articles, which have appeared in leading scholarly journals and the popular press, and has published several books, including “International Franchising” and her new book, “Diversity Dividend.” Her research has been featured in Business Insider, Harvard Business Review (HBR), MIT Sloan Management Review, The American Lawyer, and at legal websites, including Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Legal. She has been cited in numerous newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times and the Washington Post.

Cecchi-Dimeglio is a monthly contributor to Forbes ( For three years, she was a columnist for Thomson Reuters, writing on AI/Big Data and gender and diversity, as well as “Dear Dr. Paola,” a monthly column. Her research and articles have won awards from federal agencies and others, including an award from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for her behavioral and data visualization tools, and the 2017 Azbee Awards of Excellence National Winners.

She has advised the U.S., E.U. and U.K. governments, and the U.N. and the World bank on various topics related to her expertise. More recently, she has advised the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on AI and Algorithmic Fairness and on its HIRE Initiatives. She is the chair of the Metaverse Focus Group of the International Telecommunication Union for the U.N.

In addition to her work in academia, Cecchi-Dimeglio founded and is heading People Culture Drive Consulting Group (PCD Consulting) a strategic data-driven and behavioral-science consulting firm with offices in the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. She has advised leading tech companies, Fortune 50 and 500 Companies, non-profit organizations and global law firms around the world on improving their strategic planning, decision-making, talent strategy and data planning.

Cecchi-Dimeglio serves as a non-profit board member for the Behavioral Insight Institute and the Heart Fund, organizations that support access to health care, education and legal services. She is also a senior advisor to the European Association of Judges for Mediation (GEMME). 

Cecchi-Dimeglio earned a J.D., LL.M., M.Sc., and a Magistére-DJCE degree in Common and Civil Law. She also has two Ph.Ds. in Social & Economic Sciences (Summa Cum Laude), which involved study at universities in France, Belgium and the U.S. (Stanford University). She has held a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School. Before joining Harvard, she practiced law for Landwell & Associés (now PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd.) and Baker & McKenzie.

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio was last modified: July 10th, 2024 by Justin Louis

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Best Practices for De-Biasing AI Systems

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over sentient AI, but according to Harvard Law School professor Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, award-winning behavioral and data science expert, bias in AI is a bigger problem – and it’s already here. As she describes in her standout article, “Can We Get the Bias Out of Our AI?,” Cecchi-Dimeglio illuminates how algorithms, originally intended to promote fairness and automation, can inadvertently perpetuate discrimination, leading to harmful lawsuits. Cecchi-Dimeglio deftly explains methods for detecting unfairness in existing AI systems, then proposes twelve best practices to help organizations and decision-makers prevent it. She helps leaders confidently navigate the evolving AI landscape while also avoiding potential class action lawsuits and other consequences.

Become the Architect of Your Organization’s Data

In a world flooded with information, leaders often grapple with translating the wealth of data available to them into effective, actionable strategies. Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio is a behavioral and data scientist and leadership expert who offers a transformative approach to leadership and innovation using Big Data and AI. A long-time authority in data-driven decision-making, Cecchi-Dimeglio delivers an overview of how to holistically analyze an organization’s data with an eye to pre-existing patterns and barriers. She then helps leaders and teams design processes that align with an organization’s strategy, enabling them to better meet the demands and opportunities of today and tomorrow. Her scientifically driven methods encourage leaders to move beyond gut feelings to decisions rooted in facts, creating scalable strategies that flex with the changing business environment. By tying outcomes directly to tracked data, participants gain a sense of sureness, turning the uncertainty of decision-making into a strategic advantage that serves both organizational growth and the well-being of its members.

Turn Diversity into a Competitive Edge

Many organizations mean well when they make diversity and inclusion commitments, but they end up falling short of instituting actionable solutions that create equity across groups. Setting out to change this is behavioral and data scientist and leadership expert Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio. As she describes in her new book “Diversity Dividend” (September 2023), leaders can go beyond embracing diversity as a noble goal to leveraging it as a high-performing asset that yields significant returns. Utilizing a research-supported and ROI-driven strategy, Cecchi-Dimeglio reveals why systemic barriers persist and how they can be dismantled. By aligning scientific insights with pragmatic applications, she creates a framework for companies to genuinely capitalize on the strengths of diverse talent. Her insights guide businesses in turning diversity from mere rhetoric into an invaluable competitive edge, ultimately elevating organizational performance and growth.

How to Cultivate Data-Informed Decision-Making Skills Throughout the Entire Organization

Business is moving faster than ever before, and to remain competitive, organizations need employees at every level to develop their informed decision-making skills. Harvard Kennedy School professor Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio is showing leaders a transformative new approach that empowers an entire organization to leverage data in making smarter, more agile choices. Also, a behavioral and data scientist, Cecchi-Dimeglio’s strategies teach leaders how to utilize organizational data to drive efficiency and innovation, ensure diversity of thought, and create unbiased talent systems. The result is a comprehensive plan that allows businesses to diversify innovation and harness the collective intelligence of their workforce. An experienced executive educator, Cecchi-Dimeglio equips teams and individuals with the tools to move beyond intuition to a data-driven approach that serves both organizational growth and the advancement of diversity within the industry.

Harnessing Strategic Nudges: Guiding Decisions for Organizational Success

When leading a global organization into the future, it’s crucial to understand the different ways people approach decisions around the world. According to behavioral and data scientist and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, this key knowledge enables organizations to gently guide employees towards choices that serve both their individual well-being and long-term corporate objectives. From establishing DEI initiatives to enacting new corporate policies, Cecchi-Dimeglio unveils practical strategies for employing small, tailored behavioral nudges, such as well-timed meeting invitations and targeted questions, that can create a harmonious alignment between employee actions and organizational goals. Whether improving talent strategy or refining data planning, her insights equip leaders with the tools to make wise choices that resonate with their goals.

MIT Sloan School of Management Logo 2022

Diversity Nudges

November 21, 2023

Is the Mansfield Rule Moving the Needle for Women and Minorities?

(Journal of Professions and Organization, April 2022)

Legal Management Journal logo

AI Aiming to Transform Legal

(Legal Management Journal, 2018)

Women Lawyers Journal logo

Three Nudges That Translate Into Hiring More Women

(Women Lawyers Journal, November 2017)

The American Lawyer logo

What It Costs When Talent Walks Out the Door

(The American Lawyer, February 2017)

Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, a renowned behavioral and data scientist and lawyer, is a leading expert on leadership, inclusivity and harnessing AI and Big Data. With a solid track record in guiding organizations through the complex world of data-driven decision-making, Cecchi-Dimeglio helps leaders navigate uncertainty by leveraging data for agile innovation and talent management. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Center on the Legal Profession and co-founder of the Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys at Harvard Law School, she advises on creating scalable strategies rooted in facts and inclusive by design. Founder of People Culture Drive Consulting group (PCD Consulting) a strategic data-driven and behavioral-science consulting firm with offices in the U.S., Europe, and the U.K., her visionary thinking equips leaders for a future where decisions are unbiased, informed by data, and where everyone contributes their best ideas. Her expertise is vital for organizations looking to step into a future where decisions are informed by data, biases are minimized, and innovation thrives. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Safely Leveraging AI for Inclusive Decision-Making
  • Becoming the Architect of Your Organization’s Data
  • Building Data-Informed Decision-Making Skills Organization-Wide
  • Harnessing Strategic Nudges for Organizational Success
  • Best Practices for De-Biasing AI Systems

Praise for "Diversity Dividend"

“Cecchi-Dimeglio’s book uses proven research and showcases real-life examples to design effective interventions that work, making it a must-read for anyone striving to improve gender and racial diversity.”

Iris Bohnet, Professor, Harvard University and Author, "What Works: Gender Equality by Design"

“A very thoughtful and thought-provoking book based on data-driven economic analysis of whether Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts produce the desired results. A must-read for law firm leaders and everyone who is focused on results, not just on the process."

George Casey, Global Managing Partner, Shearman & Sterling LLP and Adjunct Professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School

"Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio has taken a systemic approach to DEI by breaking down the people life cycle in organizations and providing data and science backed insights and solutions that will drive successful DEI outcomes. This will become the 'go to guide' for everyone who wants to make a change in their DEI outcomes."

Donny Ching, Legal Director & Member , Executive Committee of Royal Dutch Shell PLC

“Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio has written a 'must read' for anyone interested in creating a productive and diverse workforce. She uses data and the discipline of 'nudges' to show how organizations can avoid pitfalls, leading to more satisfied organizations while increasing productivity.”

Michelle R. Clayman, Chair, Advisory Council, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University

"Brilliantly combining powerful theoretical insights with compelling empirical data, this book not only proves the benefits of workplace diversity but reveals how organizations can take meaningful, concrete steps to achieve it. Offering a new approach to debias decision-making, 'Diversity Dividend' is the foundational text for understanding how to harness the potential of organizational design to recruit and retain talent—in all of its multifaceted and enriching forms. "

Scott L. Cummings, Robert Henigson Professor, UCLA School of Law

“Don't miss out on Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio's must-read book, 'Diversity Dividend,' which offers proven research and practical interventions for revolutionizing diversity initiatives. This timely masterpiece is a game-changing resource for making a real impact.”

Francesca Daverio, Head of Office, Office of the Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, Legal Vice Presidency, World Bank; Head of the Empowering Woman by Balancing the Law Initiative and Diversity and Inclusion Representative for LEGVP

“There are books that are engaging and books that are impeccably researched. 'Diversity Dividend' is both. Author Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio thus lands in the most valuable and important quadrant in the landscape of management research. If you are looking for a great resource on diversity in the 21st century, look no further. This deeply practical scholarly work is a must read for today’s leaders.”

Amy C. Edmondson, Professor of Leadership & Management, Harvard Business School and Author, "Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well"

“Based on data and science, Cecchi-Dimeglio’s impeccable research demonstrates how workforce diversity benefits the people, the workplace culture, and the company’s bottom line. Extensive examples and resources are provided to assist organizations in achieving diversity.”

Patricia M. Flynn , Professor of Economics and Management & Former Dean, Bentley University

"'Diversity Dividend' is essential reading for anyone who believes that value and values are both part of inclusive capitalism. Paola’s book is full of actionable insights for leaders seeking to enhance innovation, productivity, and employee satisfaction."

Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Inclusive Capital Partners, & Founder and Co-Chair, Council for Inclusive Capitalism, Board of Directors of Estée Lauder Companies, The Economist Group, Bronfman E.L. Rothschild LP and Christies International. Former Boards of Directors of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and General Instruments, Inc.

“Cecchi-Dimeglio's 'Diversity Dividend' grounds the demand for diversity and inclusion in hard data and practical good sense. This is both a resource and a guide to improved practice and should be required reading for those charged with making diversity happen.”

Robert Fullilove, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University and Associate Dean of Community and Minority Affairs

"Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio's next-generation study of diversity and inclusion reveals how organizations shape outcomes at every career stage. Read this tour de force to learn everything from how AI influences hiring to why we can, and should, redistribute essential but devalued work more fairly."

Elizabeth L. Hillman, President & CEO , 9/11 Memorial & Museum

"'Diversity Dividend' is a pathbreaking, one-stop guide to debiasing your organization. Tackling one pain point at a time, from hiring to the pay gap and promotion and more, Cecchi Dimeglio describes the interventions, experiments and nudges that really work. By combining the power of data analytics with powerful insights from behavioural science, she’s written the definitive playbook for designing more equitable and productive organizations.”

Herminia Ibarra, Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School and Author, "Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader"

"Removing bias when your business spans multiple continents and includes numerous cultures gets overwhelming fast. Data-centered approaches applied in 'Diversity Dividend' provide some practical change strategies for organisations to use, that are sustainable and reproducible."

Catherine Johnson, General Counsel and Executive Committee Member, London Stock Exchange and Chair, FTSE International Limited

"For entrepreneurs and executives fighting an unprecedented war for talent, 'The Diversity Dividend' is an essential playbook. Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio presents a clear ROI driven strategy (supported by research) along with practical tactics to leverage diversity as a massive business advantage."

Heidi Messer, Co-Founder and Chairperson, Collective[i]

"Paola Cecchi Dimeglio's 'Diversity Dividend' is a must-read for any executive looking to build a diverse and inclusive organization. With compelling evidence, real-life examples, and insights from data analytics, her insights and data-driven strategies are a game-changer. "

Kim Rivera, Chief Legal and Business Officer, OneTrust

“A refreshing science-based approach to DEIB that will help organizations to finally move the needle for inclusion. Its practical, data-driven solutions will enable transformation of workforces to better meet the demands and opportunities of today and tomorrow.”

Ursula Wynhoven, ITU Representative to the United Nations, New York

"Cecchi-Dimeglio combines behavioral science with sophisticated analytics to produce fresh data-driven nudges to help organizations move beyond the endless cycle of ineffective programs and good intentions that have stymied diversity efforts for decades. It is must-reading for anyone truly committed to achieving real progress."

David Wilkins, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School

"'Diversity Dividend' is a must-read for conscious leaders. Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio's book combines proven research with practical advice and relatable examples to inspire and help workplaces change the equation and close the gap. "

Shelley Zalis, Founder and CEO, The Female Quotient