48,000 people gathered on the Great Lawn in Central Park, New York City in September to celebrate their commitment to being global citizens. Demi Lovato announced her new role as Global Citizen Mental Health Ambassador; Oscar winners Hugh Jackman and Lupita Nyong͛o took the stage as hosts. Gucci and its Chime for Change campaign was the lead sponsor, along with media partners Comcast, MSNBC and Live Nation. Additional sponsors included Johnson & Johnson, Citi, Cadillac, HP, T-Mobile, iHeart Radio and NYC Parks.

The event celebrated the power of coming together as global citizens to take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Each of the corporate sponsors had a different focus for their support, from gender equality, poverty and education to sustainable job growth and social entrepreneurship. But each made clear its commitment to a global and inclusive outlook and process to achieve success.

And it’s not just the movie stars who are conscientiously incorporating a diversity mindset into their personal and professional lives. It͛s individuals and companies everywhere who are embracing global diversity awareness and reaping personal, corporate and community success as a result. Here are a few examples:

Infusing a Diversity Mindset into Everyday Programs

At the Girl Scouts, diversity is woven into the fabric of their mission and organization. “Quite simply, it’s in our DNA,” says Nancy Wright, CEO at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Northwest Indiana. She cited as evidence recent local events, such as the girls, staff and volunteers participating in the Day of the Immigrant in Bolingbrook and an interfaith event held at the Islamic Center of Naperville.

“We’ve also had Girl Scouts participate in global leadership opportunities, such as the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, where they spoke out on the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women,” said Wright. The organization’s commitment to global diversity and inclusion culminates each year on World Thinking Day (February 22) when Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from 146 countries come together to celebrate global sisterhood. “We’re proud of our inclusive history and wholeheartedly embrace diversity in all that we do,” adds Wright.

Diversity & Inclusion Focus Fuels Business Strategy

At Leo Burnett Chicago, they believe “a commitment to Diversity & Inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for business,” says Bob Raidt, CEO of Arc Worldwide, the shopper activation agency within Leo Burnett Group. “Our D&I programs and initiatives are always on,” says Raidt. “They serve to raise D&I consciousness within the organization, provide supportive networking opportunities for talent and promote productive D&I behaviors across the organization.” These include programs like the employee-led Minority Employee Resource Group network and Egalite, which supports Leo Burnett͛s LGBTQ talent. They also participate in Publicis Groupe’s global Viva Women program. In addition, “our internship program provides for a dedicated pipeline of minority talent that nourishes our organization’s diversity for the future,” adds Raidt.

“At Leo Burnett Chicago, we passionately believe that creativity has the power to transform human behavior. As we progress into the future, we will always value the power of difference and look for ways to leverage it for the benefit of our talent, clients and the marketplace,” says Raidt.

Personal Experience Synthesizes a Global View

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of [people] and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain.

Traveling abroad is a sure-fire way to be hyper-aware of how one’s own culture influences their style of working. Raidt shares something he learned after living and working in Japan for three years. “Japanese culture, and certainly its business culture, greatly values listening and thoughtfulness. In Western culture long, silent pauses in a conversation or meeting tend to make people uncomfortable. Our impulse is to fill the void. In Japanese culture, such pauses for thoughtful consideration are common and valued. As a Westerner, these pauses initially made me feel uncomfortable, but I quickly learned to appreciate them,” shares Raidt. “I am convinced that working in Japan made me a more thoughtful, attentive listener, and not someone who speaks just to be heard.”

Taking a Month or a Day to Highlight the Drivers of Success

There is no substitute for top leadership commitment, a solid long-term strategy and layered, ongoing tactics to successfully embrace and leverage diversity among employees, clients and stakeholders. But that does not mean a company can’t infuse fun and a person-to-person connection into the equation.

Ericsson, a Stockholm-based global leader in delivering information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, began celebrating Global Diversity Awareness Month to honor the diversity of its employees: “118,055… a huge number of people that reflects 168 nationalities working in 180 countries across the globe; with different gender, age, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and so much more.”

The goal of the program (and its namesake) was to show that “Ericsson sees the real you.” The company collated and published an online book of people, stories and local recipes from all over their global community; the iamericsson.com microsite gave everyone at Ericsson the opportunity to upload their own story to a ‘living map’. Virtual sessions and webinars available to all employees talked about topics such as Generations at Work, Building Disability Confidence, Genderspeak and Cultural Differences. They encouraged all of their locations to create local programs, and ran 30 social media campaigns to capture it all. With a toolkit that allowed people to show their support for Diversity Awareness Month through their own personal accounts, they garnered well over six million impressions on Facebook alone.

Thais Moraes, who is deaf, works as a Multimedia Producer for Ericsson in São Paulo Brazil. She signed her thoughts in a video created during the month to express her appreciation of the program and the ideas it represented. “Ericsson supports diversity and cares about your professional development in the company,” said Moraes.

Food For Thought

As you close out this year and begin planning for 2018, how will you celebrate diversity in your personal and professional life?

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