Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are crucial factors that determine how a business operates, who it hires, and its promotion of equitable opportunities.
However, many employees feel that their company’s D&I initiatives don’t cut it. In a Harvard Business Review study, 78% of respondents said that their company lacked 2-D (two-dimensional) diversity in leadership, which could cost companies significantly. Research shows that diverse, inclusive companies yield greater results and drive market growth better than companies lacking in these areas.
Building out your D&I objectives not only helps your business flourish but also allows you to attract top talent, establish an inclusive culture, and offer initiatives that align with employees’ values. So, where do you start on your path to diversity and inclusion?
When solidifying your D&I initiatives, you have to think about diversity as a journey — not a gap. A gap means that your company is missing something, but a journey means that you’re taking steps to reach your D&I goals.
When you’re trying to get to a destination without a roadmap, you might take a turn and realize it wasn’t the right direction. The same goes for D&I campaigns. You have to be agile, intentional, and able to pivot when you realize you took a wrong turn. But it doesn’t mean you’re missing the mark — it’s just part of your ever-evolving D&I path.
What kinds of programs are companies implementing for success in the D&I field?
World Wide Technology (WWT) breaks its initiative down into three buckets: diversity in the workforce, business impact, and community outreach. Brian Sharpless, the Director of Diversity Business Development, describes their integrated management leadership program. “It's not just the normal D&I type of training,” he says. “We're talking about having empathy and different things for individuals… and it helps calibrate the level of D&I within the organization. And then we move over to our supplier diversity program and [drive] those business impacts. When we look at communities, a lot of [them] are made up of diverse-owned businesses, and how do we drive equity into those communities? By utilizing the companies that are from those communities that are going to employ individuals from those communities.”
Like WWT, Willis Towers Watson (WTW) has its own D&I goals, and Patricia Marinho is here to share the details. One of WTW’s initiatives is to hire more minorities. However, this is challenging in the LATAM region and can often take years to see through. “[Minorities] don’t have the opportunity to be able to go to university and then apply for certain positions,” Patricia says. “So what we as a company have to do now [is] hire those minorities when they’re still in high school…and start to prepare them for, in 10 years, to be able to get positions that we’re looking for.” These high schoolers are trained by company members so that they can land a job in the future — even without a college degree.
If you want your D&I initiatives to succeed, the entire company has to align with these goals and embody your culture. From new hires to senior executives, each person must be intentional about fulfilling D&I initiatives.
One of WTW’s goals is to include more women in their senior management roles. But instead of making decisions at the executive level, the company welcomes feedback from all employees. In addition to seminars and coaching, WTW sends a questionnaire to the entire company with different questions regarding inclusion and diversity. Employees can share their thoughts on the initiatives and ideas for next steps. It’s not just the senior manager that makes the decisions — each team member has a voice and is part of the company’s plan of action.
According to the WWT team, accountability and culture are vital to getting everyone on board. Executives at the top are held accountable for their efforts in D&I, and it disperses throughout the company. Additionally, all hires are part of the company's fabric and, therefore, contribute to D&I initiatives. When all members are hired with the company culture and D&I objectives in mind, you can build a thriving organization.