…But Can You Walk The Walk?

These chief diversity officers say the best diversity practices are about more than good intentions -- they're about measurable results. How does your company stack up?

and promoting inclusion so that all employees feel important in an organization. The following discussion provides valuable benchmarks for what your employer should be doing to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

THE BUCK STOPS with the CEO
Why it’s important: The CEO and chairman are the visionaries and strategic leaders of an organization. They set the agenda for what plans get implemented. “Whenever you see your CEO and hear him talking about diversity,” explains Charlyn Jarrells Porter, “it sends a very clear message, very quickly, to everyone about what the priorities are.” The chairman and CEO are also responsible for changing the organization’s culture, which sets the tone for how business is executed. As a result, says Bailey, organizational culture and diversity are inextricably connected.

Challenge: Many CEOs talk about the importance of diversity, but in a survey of 1,700 human resources executives, only 30% of their companies had diversity officers who reported directly to the CEO, according to Novations/J.Howard & Associates, a Boston-based global consulting firm.

Solutions: The CEO must be committed to direct engagement and leadership in the restructuring and implementation of diversity goals. In 2004, Calhoun says, then-Eastman Kodak CEO Dan Carp decided to have the chief diversity officer report directly to him instead of the chief administrative officer. “I think that kind of positioning says how relevant we’ve proven ourselves to be.”

Harris reports that at McDonald’s, CEO Jim Skinner and other leaders in the organization regularly meet with employee networks and affinity groups representing workers of diverse ethnicities, genders, and lifestyles. “We have roundtables with the affinity group leaders and with our president and CEO so that they can share what their particular groups are talking about and raise issues that might come up.”

IF IT’S NOT MEASURED, IT DOESN’T COUNT
Why it’s important: “The vision is important, but the vision alone doesn’t do it,” says Hershey Co.’s Goodlett. To be effective not just as a business initiative but as a business operation, diversity has to be applied and measured against goals and objectives like every other business function of the company.

Challenges: “There are a lot of organizations that go through the process, talk about it, and describe what they would like to have happen,” explains Adkins. “But to truly focus on outcomes-related to recruitment, promotion, retention, attrition, the number of minorities and women at the senior executive level-at some point, you have to demonstrate that you’ve actually made some progress.”

Solutions: According to Adkins, the results they’ve seen at Accenture are a result of focusing on metrics; targets; objectives; and “taking diversity and inclusion and transitioning it to a function similar to how we look at operations, finance, and H.R. and giving it the same kind of visibility and important impact.”

Measurement also provides a way to make management accountable to goals and objectives, says Fannie Mae’s Bailey. “I’m fond of repeating a statement from our former chairman, Jim Johnson, who says, ‘What gets measured gets managed.’ ” Bailey says Fannie Mae evaluates its managers partly on their effectiveness

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