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Diversity and Inclusion: 5 Ways to Move Beyond Benchmarks for Real Change

Liz Alton
March 05, 2021

3 minute read

Embracing diversity and inclusion (D&I) isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also good for business. D&I initiatives are a top corporate priority for driving growth and performance in 2021 and beyond. The Oracle HCM Virtual Summit recently hosted a digital event to explore top trends in diversity and inclusion efforts. Here’s a closer look at key takeaways on moving beyond benchmarking and embedding real change in your organization.

Effective D&I starts with trust

There’s no single benchmark or simple solution for addressing D&I, as each company and its employees, customers, and other stakeholders are a unique community. However, effective initiatives begin with establishing trust.

“Transparency is where it all starts. Transparency comes in a few different forms: transparency into data and analytics so you can get a complete and truthful view of what’s happening in the organization and hold people accountable; transparency into career and development opportunities for those who might not have had the opportunity to be considered before; and transparency into the interests, skills, and perspectives across employees so you can foster connections that promote diverse thought and belonging,” says Rocky Mitarai, Senior Director of HCM Product Marketing at Oracle.

Firm commitments underscore D&I progress

As diversity and inclusion become critical priorities for firms, major changes are shifting the corporate landscape, says Dan Schawbel, author and Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence.

Comparing D&I initiatives before 2020 and where they stand today, Dan notes that companies are taking five key steps to make firm commitments that underscore diversity and inclusion. These steps include:

  • Creating actionable programs
  • Making financial commitments
  • Publicly releasing diversity data
  • Embedding D&I corporate culture efforts
  • Focusing on measurable results

Global D&I strategies, local implementation

Effective implementation starts with a global D&I strategy that also takes into account local context, notes Fujitsu’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Wellbeing, Kelly Metcalf. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Instead, the company anchors its D&I efforts around a core set of promises on diversity and inclusion.

Fujitsu has 130,000 employees across 110 countries. “How you talk about diversity and inclusion in all those countries is quite different. There’s a different set of societal norms, different cultural norms—in many cases, different legislative backgrounds. That means that what may be appropriate to frame a D&I conversation in one country may be inappropriate in another,” says Kelly.

The company relies on regional HR and D&I talent to successfully implement regional initiatives that tie back to a global strategy.

Tying D&I accountability to core metrics

At Schneider Electric, the company’s focus centers on employees and is also taking on the organization’s larger impact.

“We’re trying to increasingly make a direct impact and connect with society at large. It’s a two-way street. You can’t work in a vacuum just with your company. Trying to advance D&I is also about shifting some of the trends and some of the systemic institutionalized challenges we all face globally,” says Tina Kao Mylon, SVP of Talent and Diversity for Schneider Electric.

Schneider Electric recently issued a sustainability-linked bond. The payment acts as a financial guarantee of the company’s commitments in areas that include reducing CO2 emissions and increasing gender diversity. Tina notes that the company also ties D&I metrics to performance incentives and manager training. “We build it into everything we do. It becomes intrinsic,” says Tina.

Be aware of employee commitments

Planning successful D&I initiatives also requires awareness of employees’ commitments beyond work. “One of the biggest challenges to D&I is that people are just quite exhausted,” says Traci Wade, Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion at Oracle.

Traci notes the importance of being aware of the impact of shifting responsibilities, the pandemic, and the larger context of social injustice and how those facets of everyday living impact employees. “It can be quite taxing sometimes for our employee communities to take on an additional lift and shift in addition to their day job.”

Yet, with that awareness, it’s possible to plan impactful programs that support diversity and inclusion. Traci notes that her team recently rolled out a training on micro-inequities that helped managers understand the small nuances of how they interact with employees and the workplace. The training was well received because it was highly relevant and helped participants foster leadership skills they can use today. Strategically thinking about your employees and their needs can help you prioritize the most effective D&I practices.

These are just a few takeaways from the rich conversations from the event. Learn more about the latest D&I thinking by watching the webinar today.

Liz Alton
Liz Alton
Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.
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