It used to be rare to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion at work, but today, it’s so common that we often shorten it to “DEI” or “DE&I.” Things have changed quickly, in our culture at large and in workplaces across the country. For many companies, however, these changes have remained at the level of “culture”—and the result is often a nicer place to work, but little more.
In reality, DEI can have a massive impact on corporate strategy, especially when it comes to the talent and supplier pipelines that grow and sustain our businesses. I was lucky enough to host a virtual panel featuring four inspiring DEI leaders from across the corporate landscape at our recent DEI Best Practices webinar, and in looking back on the event, all four panelists shared vital lessons:
- Make DEI Part of Everything Your Business Does
Yau Cheng, Managing Director, Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at BNY Mellon
The key to DEI sustainability is ensuring that companies are engaged in diversity efforts at every level, especially among leadership. As Yau shared, by keeping DEI strategy visible in the board room, it becomes much easier for leaders to see how these topics relate to their commercial goals. BNY Mellon, for example, has found innovative new ways to pair business strategies and products, such as new financial instruments, with DEI goals like ensuring investment proceeds benefit historically Black colleges and universities. Through mentoring minority-owned community banks and other efforts, the company can demonstrate how it’s making a difference—and attract diverse young talent who want to contribute to companies that make DEI a priority.
- Let Your Data Be Your Guide
Brian Nichols, Director of Talent Acquisition at The Kraft Group
“Diversity” should mean more than just race and gender, and in his role at Kraft, Brian has worked hard to make sure the company’s diverse range of businesses has a workforce that’s just as diverse. As Brian explained, everything from inclusive language in job descriptions to the composition of interview panels makes a difference. Perhaps most importantly, he uses data to guide the company’s efforts—which aren’t always at aimed at entry level! In one example he shared, the company had succeeded in encouraging more women to join its manufacturing workforce, but they remained underrepresented in leadership. A focused internal recruitment pipeline acted as the perfect solution to a problem that would’ve been tough to spot without access to excellent data.
- Make Your Diverse Workforce a Reliable Source for Innovation
Kristen Harris, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Hallmark
Employee resource groups can be an incredibly powerful way to keep employees engaged and energized through the power of community—but, as Kristen has learned at Hallmark, ERGs also have many distinct business purposes. The organization calls their ERGs “Department Diversity & Inclusion Councils,” or DDICs for short, and they’ve been key to elevating brand champions who help them create meaningful connections with new diverse talent through cultural awareness events and community engagement. Through the organization’s innovative Talent Connection portal, the DDICs have also been a platform for market research and product development, allowing professionals from every level of the company to make their unique marks on the Hallmark brand.
- DEI Is for Everyone—Including Your Contingent Workforce
Rebecca Perrault, VP and Global Leader of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Pro Unlimited
Naturally, full-time employees have been the focus for many DEI leaders, but as Rebecca pointed out, contingent workers make up 40-60% of the workforce at many of the world’s biggest companies. At PRO Unlimited, Rebecca has been instrumental in building out DEI initiatives to reach these workers, including the company’s wildly successful “Community Circle” program, which offers 30-minute sessions for members of diverse groups to network and learn with one another. It has also served as a key talent pipeline, allowing PRO Unlimited to create new connections and build new DEI partnerships.
Want to learn even more from our experts? Watch the entire webinar—and be sure to share it with your friends and colleagues to keep the conversation going.