What one Fortune 500 Company is Doing to Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A former client asked me recently if the racial issues of late had entered my work activities.

My answer: Absolutely!

Many of the leaders I coach are struggling with creating a DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) program and I am always seeking more empathy to be able to help them.

It is such a complex issue with a plethora of perspectives, I wanted his POV on the matter.

He is an African American executive responsible for leading the DE&I efforts in his Fortune 500 organization.

What are they doing to address the imbalances?

Some highlights from our hour-long conversation:

  • This issue is forcing leaders to grapple with noise not previously experienced. Many diverse candidates have not had the courage to complain. Provide leaders coaching/training on how to respond in an emotionally intelligent way to avoid complicating the matter.
  • They have 60% women in the base of the organization and only 20% in the top tier of leadership. The feedback they receive is some women see those metrics and feel defeated, so they leave for a better opportunity to rise in the ranks. Consider the cost of replacing that talent walking out the door.
  • They have changed the recruiting/interviewing process, requiring three things: look at women, people of color and people outside their organizations. And yes, people outside their organizations can be white males.
  • They are looking for candidates who can support the broader, diverse goals of the organization.  Who has the broader, more diverse view?
  • They can’t afford to take lesser qualified candidates.  If a white male is promoted over others, they view it as an opportunity to close any gaps in development. They commit to developing the others, so they are ready for promotion.
  • They are trying to be more transparent about the jobs that are available, communicating more frequently when job openings exist. Conversely, they promote the notion that ‘you drive your career’ and are challenging employees to get clarity about what they want and to be more vocal about it. Gone are the days when you were ‘tapped on the shoulder’ to move up.

We ran out of time before having the opportunity to discuss:

  • how they ensure each person is valued for who they are and encouraged to bring their whole self to work, regardless of how they identify
  • what training they do for unconscious and conscious bias
  • what training they do for psychological safety

What would you add to this post?  What are you doing in your DE&I efforts?

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