Case Study: American Express Company—Building a Winning Culture: Accountability CountsJan 09, 2001
Efforts to build a winning culture—one which diversity is a key component—are part of an evolution at American Express. The company’s initiative, Building a Winning Culture: Accountability Counts, has created an environment in which leaders are not only encouraged but expected to integrate diversity into their business objectives, with a strong emphasis on accountability.
A Leadership Competency Model is used to set expectations and coach managers on key elements of leadership, including diversity. Exhibiting effective behaviors and achieving results in this area comprise 50 percent of a leader’s evaluation. An annual Employee Survey, the primary method of measuring employee satisfaction, includes questions directly linked to diversity and accounts for an additional 12.5 percent of a leader’s assessment.
To build and sustain the awareness needed to further integrate diversity into the workplace, leaders are required to complete a comprehensive management-training curriculum over a 24-month period. They are also expected to ensure diverse candidates are considered for every open position. President and CEO Kenneth Chenault reviews quarterly reports that analyze hiring efforts at all levels of the organization, and conducts follow-up discussions with business leaders, if necessary.
Together, these programs and others create the foundation for building a winning culture. The number of senior women at American Express, including women of color, has increased from 19 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2000 in the United States; women comprise 17.6 percent of the company’s corporate officers.