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Corporate leaders gathered at the New York Times building on Thursday morning (November 2) for “Galvanize,” the first-ever summit by Fairygodboss, with one idea in mind — how do we make women’s employee resource groups more effective? Mike Preston of Deloitte, however, had a different question — are these groups even relevant?

Preston, who serves as Deloitte’s Chief Talent Officer, took to the stage to talk further about his company’s controversially received decision to emphasize one larger, umbrella employee resource group over more traditional and specialized groups. Just in case anyone was still curious about where Deloitte and its CTO stood, though, Preston didn’t hesitate to set the record straight.

“We think the culture at Deloitte needs to be impactful in a way it hasn’t been before and we are constantly driving towards that,” he began, before turning to the question at hand.

“Absolutely, women’s resource groups and ERGs are still relevant. But we don’t think they’re enough.”

The conversation quickly honed in on the importance of these resource groups and how they help foster an inclusive environment where members can learn and grow. But in order to do more in order to increase this positivity and inclusivity, Preston said — Deloitte decided to up the ante and integrate in a more inclusive, modern way.

Why? Because when Deloitte created its first women’s resource groups in 1992, the problems of inclusion and diversity focused on the retention of women in the workforce. In 2017, this is just not the case.

According to Preston, issues plaguing the workforce today include: “sponsorship, advancement to leadership, and working across groups to create an environment that is inclusive.”

That’s why these inclusive councils are being integrated into company culture. They have a different, more focused goal with different objectives and techniques that the company hopes will broaden their scope and create a safer space for discussion without bias and discrimination.

And to those who were worried, no, Deloitte is not doing away with these networks and ERGs in their entirety.

“We need to drive ERGs from bonding capital to bridging capital,” Preston explained. Because even though Deloitte has run a number of initiatives and implemented programs to increase diversity, there are still barriers to overcome.

One of the biggest obstacles is taking steps toward overcoming is unconscious bias, which the professional services firm has begun combatting with online training modules and live training seminars.

Throughout the presentation, Preston impressed upon his audience the importance of changing culture at a fundamental level. Until you get the culture to change fundamentally, you’ll have people across the spectrum that disagree on the importance of changing how we think about diversity and inclusivity.

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