There are many different approaches for creating sustainable workplace inclusion. On July 19, 2018, the New Jersey Diversity Council Best Practices meeting showcased two companies who demonstrate the ability to change culture and move the dial on inclusion in very different global businesses. Barbara Wankoff, Executive Director, Inclusion and Diversity discussed how she continues to innovate and incorporate bold thinking into a long-standing program at KPMG, a leading professional services firm that provides business solutions and audit, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations. Netta Gaye, Director and Head of Diversity and Inclusion at IAC Applications (IAC), discussed her unique approach to building inclusion across a dynamic, fast-growing and innovative software applications company.

KPMG is a firm with a rich, 120-year history and is widely recognized for its strong commitment to inclusion and diversity and being a great place to work and build a career. The organization effectively integrates inclusion in their culture and people strategy. The support of its Chairman and CEO, Lynne Doughtie has encouraged them to increase the pace of change. KPMG’s inclusion agenda is encapsulated into 4 principles, 5 goals and 6 initiatives which inspire inclusion, create dynamic employee models, drive accountability and deliver a consistent employee experience. KPMG walks the talk with 44% diverse board representation and demonstrates a conscious effort to develop, retain and advance diverse talent.

Notable highlights include:
  • Unconscious bias training focused on the neuroscience of the brain structured to build and reinforce new habits.
  • KPMG is developing talent pipelines through their 7 Employee Networking Groups (ENG). KNOW (KPMG Network of Women) developed a program to help parents return to work with confidence. Because many business deals happen on the golf course, they created a program to teach women to golf, inviting 27 leaders to a two-day program combining golf clinic, professional development and networking. KPMG hosts the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit each year, which aims to move the needle and forge paths for the next generation of women leaders to move into the c-suite through high-impact leadership development programs, networking and access to today’s top leaders. The Summit convenes highly-accomplished leaders in the world of business, politics, sports and the media to share strategies, insights and lessons learned from their personal journeys with the next generation of women leaders, who are nominated to attend.
  • They recognize the importance of sponsors as advocates and focus their efforts on helping employees become sponsor-ready, including credentialing their experiences and defining rules for being a sponsor or a protégée.
  • To bring awareness to inclusion they encourage Courageous Conversations. Asking employees to make a list of their 10 most-trusted advisors serves to bring awareness to the often lack of diversity in personal networks. Underscoring, if you surround yourself with people who look like you, you may be missing different perspectives.

Their ENGs are focused on introducing different perspectives, expanding their talent agenda to consider external organizations and advisory groups. True inclusion requires cultural change which is a slow steady process and KPMG is forging ahead.

IAC is known for its fun, flexible and family-oriented culture. In 2017 they flipped their approach and began phasing out Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and introducing Diversity Ambassadors to lead inclusive conversations around real-world issues to educate and engage all employees. IAC believes a culture that fosters true inclusion creates change. To facilitate change, the company uses a disciplined framework to achieve: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Action, Accountability and Reinforcement which aligns to the company’s broader inclusion strategy.

To support a culture of inclusion, the company made a commitment to fix systemic issues (compensation, job titles and gender disparities) and drive transparency. As part of the solution, managers and senior leaders were engaged in the process to eliminate and guard against future disparities. Today, the company has several recruiting strategies and programs in place to attract and retain underrepresented populations in technology. These programs and strategies range from free tech classes to learn IAC Apps technology, a “career switch program” to increase representation of diverse professionals looking to crossover to tech to the IAC Apps pitch competition for women of color to gain access to capital and networks – to name a few.

The company projects that over time, with every employee focused on inclusion (without HR mandates and quotas) that they will organically attract and retain diverse talent. A recent employee survey confirms they are moving in the right direction with 86% of their surveyed workforce (461 employees) agreeing they work in an inclusive environment.

To achieve a success in creating workplace inclusion each company must chart its own path based on its unique culture that integrates with long-term business objectives. For real sustainable change, strategies must engage both the hearts and minds of employees, from entry level employees to senior leaders. Begin with the end in mind and design a strategy to address:

  • Who is your champion? Effective execution must cascade across the organization and be endorsed by senior leaders.
  • What problems (systemic issues, process, culture and gaps) are we trying to address and change?
  • What must people — at all levels of the organization — do differently to support the strategy? And how is this being communicated and reinforced?
  • How is success measured?

D&I leaders can’t go it alone, we must engage and partner across our organizations and through external forums to continue to learn in order to achieve sustainable success. Programs like the Diversity Best Practices provide an amazing opportunity for passionate professionals to discuss different approaches and reinforce the call to action. While creating a culture of inclusion is a business imperative, the approach needs to fit the individualized needs of each organization.

By Sue Weston & Deanna Lloyd

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