Ask Catalyst Express: Starting a Diversity InitiativeMay 31, 2018
Catalyst has a large collection of research reports, tools, corporate practices, statistical overviews, topic introductions, and other resources covering an enormous variety of topics to help at every stage of a diversity initiative’s development. Below are resources to help you address some key topics as your organization starts to develop an initiative, including building the business case, assessing the environment and collecting data, the D&I office structure, and the D&I strategy.
Looking Toward the Goal: Inclusion
Although organizations must begin a diversity journey by understanding the current talent in their workforces—including breakdowns by gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, and more—just having diversity isn’t enough. To reap the benefits from increased diversity, organizations need to work toward inclusion. The Society for Human Resource Management defines inclusion as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.” Catalyst research shows that when people feel included, they are recognized for the distinct characteristics they bring to the team—uniqueness—and feel as though they are true insiders—belonging. To begin thinking about inclusion, consider it as a state in which everyone can: be authentic; contribute fully and meaningfully; grow, develop, and thrive. As the Royal Bank of Canada put it, “In simple terms, diversity is the mix and inclusion is the mix working well together.” Increasing diversity is the first and critical step. But it’s inclusion that makes companies, cultures, and workforces strong.
Consider the Business Case
People looking to increase diversity at organizations are often asked to “make the case” for why it is necessary. Much research has been done to demonstrate that when done well, diversity and inclusion in the workplace can lead to increased revenue, reduced costs, greater innovation, and increased employee engagement, productivity, and commitment. Notably, for companies to most effectively serve the market, their workforce needs to look and think like their customer base.
Catalyst Resources for “Making the Case”
- Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter
- Appendix: Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter: Financial Performance
- Buying Power
- Sodexo—The Business Impact of Gender-Balanced Teams Supporter Exclusive
Sodexo is focused on increasing the number of women executives globally: by 2020, the company aims to have women constitute 35% of its top 1,200 executives, with the goal of 40% by 2025. To help meet these goals, Sodexo looked at the gender composition of its teams and their associated business results to make a stronger case for why managers and leaders should consider gender diversity in hiring and promoting talent. The company found that gender-balanced teams—those with 40%–60% women in management—had higher key performance indicator (KPI) results than other teams.
Other Resources for “Making the Case”
- Women Matter: Time to Accelerate—Ten Years of Insights Into Gender Diversity McKinsey & Company
- The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change Credit Suisse
Although Catalyst has produced research and tools about making the case, more recently, Catalyst and others have encouraged companies to “get beyond the business case for diversity.” The business case grew out of a need to explain the business benefits (especially financial benefits) of diversity to stakeholders. However, the connection between financial rewards and diversity is impossible to prove because research can only establish a correlation, not causation, between the two. Further, even though the business case for diversity has been documented by Catalyst, McKinsey, Credit Suisse, and others for over 15 years, it never seems to be convincing enough. Some people still ask for more proof that gender diversity is “good for business,” yet it never occurs to them to ask for the business case demonstrating that the status quo or all-male leadership teams and boards are good for business. Instead of trying to seek that elusive “proof” that diversity causes improved business performance, companies should focus on diversity as a talent issue, and recognize that to be an industry leader, it is critical to tap into the full talent pool. By hiring a limited group of people, companies are missing out on significant segments of talent, so they should be putting energy and resources toward recruiting and retaining diverse employees and creating inclusive workplace cultures where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute and succeed.
Catalyst Resource for Getting Beyond the Business Case
- Webinar: First Steps—The Business Case for Diversity: Is This a Silver Bullet? Supporter Exclusive
Other Resources for Getting Beyond the Business Case
- Sarah Kaplan, “Because it’s 2017: Gender Equality as an Innovation Challenge” Rotman Management
- “Forget The ‘Business Case’ For Diversity And Inclusion” Forbes
Assess the Work Environment and Collect Data
Catalyst recommends that organizations look inside themselves and conduct internal benchmarking to identify their strengths, challenges, and opportunities. By asking the right questions—some that can be answered using workforce data, others that are more subjective—a clearer picture of an organization’s talent emerges, sparking often surprising insights into opportunities to become more inclusive and diverse. Catalyst’s Vital Signs toolkit helps Supporter organizations do precisely that.
Organizations often seek to benchmark themselves against industry competitors as well as organizations in other industries. Benchmarking information can be difficult to get. Further, organizations should be aware of the limits of external comparisons. Over many years conducting benchmarking, Catalyst found that the vast majority of companies had poor representation metrics and should not serve as the standard for others. However, there is still value in looking at available numbers to track how D&I initiatives produced results for some organizations. The write-ups for Catalyst Award-winning initiatives list the measurable results of these initiatives.
Catalyst Resources on Collecting Data
- Catalyst Inclusion Accelerator Supporter Exclusive
- Vital Signs Toolkit Supporter Exclusive
- Making Change: Assessing Your Work Environment Supporter Exclusive
- Catalyst Information Center Guide to Benchmarking Supporter Exclusive
- Ask Catalyst Express: Benchmarking Supporter Exclusive
- Spreadsheet of Organizations with Publicly Available Diversity Data. To receive this, please submit a request to the Catalyst Information Center.
- Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies
Organizational Structures for D&I
For Diversity Councils or the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to be effective, they need support from senior leadership, the ability to link the organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy with the overall business strategy, diverse representation, metrics to measure progress, consistent communication of goals and efforts, and a long-term strategy.
Catalyst Resources on Creating a D&I Structure
- Procter & Gamble—Everyone Valued, Everyone Included, Everyone Performing at Their Peak™ Supporter Exclusive
- Excerpt: The Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) is a rotating position among line leaders, is part of the Global Leadership Team, and reports to the CEO with dedicated resources. This positioning of the CDO ensures accountability within the businesses for implementation and emphasizes the importance of D&I to the organization.
- Kimberly-Clark Corporation—Unleash Your Power: Strengthening The Business With Women Leaders Supporter Exclusive
- Excerpt: The Global Strategic Leadership Team (GSLT)—Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Falk and his 10 direct reports—worked with Human Resources and the Global Diversity Team (part of HR) to integrate the initiative’s goals throughout the global organization and provide structure and framework for the execution and accountability of the initiative. The Global Diversity Team tracks metrics (e.g., hiring, promotion, and turnover) and reports regularly to Kimberly-Clark’s Board of Directors and the GSLT.
Other Resources on Creating a D&I Structure
- Driving Global Diversity: Selected Examples of Global Diversity Efforts Diversity Best Practices
Create the D&I Strategy
An organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy should be aligned with its business goals and company values. In addition, the strategy needs to be grounded in the real needs of the organization based on hard data collected and analyzed as a part of an organizational assessment. Please refer to Assess the Work Environment and Collecting Data section above for guidance about data collection. A successful strategy focuses on creating an inclusive culture that is both sustainable and unique to the organization.
Catalyst Resources on Creating a D&I Strategy
- Scotiabank—Unlocking Potential, Delivering Results: The Advancement Of Women (AoW) Initiative Supporter Exclusive
Scotiabank’s Unlocking Potential, Delivering Results: The Advancement of Women (AoW) Initiative is a far-reaching, business-driven initiative focused on seven strategic pursuits that provide a global framework designed to attract, retain, and advance women. Backed by rigorous research, including a business case that demonstrates that women have the skills, proven performance levels, and aspirations to contribute at more senior levels, Scotiabank formed the cross-functional, women-led AoW Steering Committee to formulate the strategy and oversee execution and progress.
- Unilever—Global Reach With Local Roots: Creating a Gender-Balanced Workforce in Different Cultural Contexts Supporter Exclusive
The Compass, Unilever’s strategy for sustainable growth, and the Sustainable Living Plan, which guides the responsible delivery of business operations, provide the framework for the initiative and help maintain consistency and alignment across 11 important regions on five continents.
- First Steps: From Why to How—Designing Your D&I Strategy Supporter Exclusive
Other Resources on Creating a D&I Strategy
- “How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative” (SHRM log-in may be required) SHRM
- “Diversity Initiatives: What Key Elements Should an Employer Consider When Creating a Diversity Program?” (SHRM log-in may be required) SHRM
Additional Topics to Consider
- MARC (Men Advocating Real Change)
- Infographic: Actions Organizations Can Take To Support Men’s Engagement
- Infographic: Actions Women Can Take to Support Men’s Engagement
- Unconscious Bias: From Awareness to Action (2-hour online course on EdX)
- Infographic: What Is Unconscious Bias?
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
- The Catalyst Guide to Employee Resource Groups (Set of six volumes)
Action Steps for Leaders
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