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Diversity & Inclusion: How to Seek Buy-In From Your Senior Leadership Team | Fairygodboss
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Expert Advice
Diversity & Inclusion: How to Seek Buy-In From Your Senior Leadership Team
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Deborah Block,
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Accelerating the path to gender equality in the workplace can’t happen without buy-in from your company’s leaders. 

To brainstorm ways to engage senior leadership to advance diversity in the workplace, leaders from Nielsen, IBM, Google, Facebook, PwC, Accenture, Robert Half and Salesforce recently came together at Galvanize 2019, a two-day summit hosted by Fairygodboss.

Over 300 attendees gather at Galvanize 2019 in New York City

 “Unless your senior leadership team is bought in, work is not going to advance as rapidly as you want it to,” said Paul Francisco, the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development Programs at State Street . “Our leadership is bought in at State Street. They understand the value of this work and that makes our job easier.”  Today, State Street has 30 employee networks — over 70% of which are sponsored by executive vice presidents. 

Paul Francisco, the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Workforce Development at State Street

And the proof is in the pudding. “Across the board, employees value opportunity and fairness,” said MeKala Krishnan. According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace report, employees are three times more likely to stay at a company if they perceive the organization to be fair and offer opportunities.

Mekala Krishnan, Senior Fellow, McKinsey Global Institute

Creating a culture of fairness and inclusion starts at the top and companies are starting to hold leaders more accountable for diversity and inclusion initiatives. “We need to make senior leaders and managers champions of diversity,” Krishnan said. “After all, gender equality is not just the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do.” 

“It has to start with senior leadership,” agrees Pamela Lipp-Hendricks, the Head of Talent Management and Diversity at JPMorgan Chase. “The impact won’t be felt if you don’t have senior leadership support.”

Diversity leaders from Robert Half, Honeywell, IBM, Salesforce and Cognizant at Galvanize 2019

“Diversity can’t come off the table when times get hard,” warned Annie Jean-Baptiste, Head of Product Inclusion at Google. We have to remember that diversity initiatives will set us up for success in the future, and are never a nice-to-have.

So what’s the first step to getting your top leaders on board with supporting ERGs and other diversity initiatives? “Leaders need to understand the value that an ERG brings to the table, and understand that it’s much more than networking,” said Celeste Warren, the Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence of Merck. “ERGs impact business results.”

Lorna Hagen, Chief People Officer at iHeartMedia takes it one step further. “Go to your CEO and shame them into action,” she said. 

Leadership at Accenture.

Jimmy Etheredge, Accenture's Group Chief Executive of North America 

Jimmy Etheredge, the Group Chief Executive North America at Accenture, believes that true innovation and growth comes from a diverse workforce. “We put an emphasis on equality because that’s the right thing to do,” he says. “When women rise, we all rise. That’s why in order for our company to grow, we need diversity.” Today, Etheredge strongly believes that there are great business reasons to advance diversity, including innovation and company growth.

Leadership at Deloitte.

Joe Ucuzoglu, the CEO of Deloitte

Joe Ucuzoglu, the CEO of Deloitte also believes that a more diverse workforce is critical to business success. “I can’t reinforce strongly enough how important an inclusive culture is,” he said at Galvanize. “At Deloitte, the issue is directly connected to our business strategy.” 

As the head of a multinational consulting company, Ucuzoglu knows that non diverse teams lack innovation and growth potential, which is bad for business. He also knows that diversity is what people want. “Our people demand an organization that aligns with their values and if they don’t see it, they’ll leave.”

Although diversity is integral to Deloitte’s values, Ucuzoglu believes we still have tremendous work to do. “Right now the rate of change isn’t acceptable and we need to be willing to call that out.”

Leadership at Nielsen.

David Kenny, CEO and Chief Diversity Officer at Nielsen

It’s not often that you hear a title like “CEO and Chief Diversity Officer”, but for David Kenny at Nielsen, the two roles are integral to one another. 

Today, Nielsen is a great example of how to elevate women’s ERGs and ensure these communities are active and productive. With nine resource groups total -- Women in Nielsen being the largest -- Kenny quickly established a rule that if you manage people, you must be an active member of an ERG. Managers are then evaluated in their performance reviews based on their participation. “This rule has especially opened the eyes of a lot men” Kenny said. 

Today, Kenny, as the head of diversity at the company,  is also committed to hiring diverse candidates and has laid out a plan to ensure that more women are being considered for positions and promotions at Nielsen. For every position filled at the company, at least two women must be actively considered.

Your 2020 Blueprint for Gender Diversity in the Workplace.

To help your company accelerate the path towards gender equality, seek buy-in from senior leadership and increase business results, we’re excited to release our latest resource, The 2020 Blueprint for Gender Diversity in the Workplace, which compiles key takeaways from Galvanize 2019.

Inside, get tips from diversity leaders who share five steps to building more diverse workplaces, including how to: 

  1. Take your diversity investment up a level

  2. Build your pipeline of qualified female talent 

  3. Engage male allies

  4. Seek buy-in from the top

  5. Rethink the future of work

Download the Blueprint.



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