…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?

in coaching and developing diverse employees. All the companies represented at the roundtable tie compensation to executing and meeting diversity goals. For example, at Wal-Mart, “If officers have not achieved their diversity goal, they lose 15% of their incentive bonus,” says Jarrells Porter.

Why it’s important: The business case is critical, stresses Adkins, because it takes diversity beyond numbers, beyond a body count, which is important in getting managers and staff to see more than just race and gender. It helps them appreciate the benefit of diverse talent.

Solutions: “I can identify situations where we have won work, as a consulting organization, that can be attributed to the diversity in our team, not just in terms of the faces and the colors and genders but the creativity that emanates from that diverse team,” Adkins explains.

Because of the sensitivity around issues of gender, race, and culture, evaluating diversity in a business context can also redirect management styles to be more effective and results-driven. Bailey explains: “If you are not comfortable dealing with certain ethnic groups on your team, then the real issue is not about diversity. The real issue is your failing as a manager from a
n accountability standpoint, and how we are delineating what our expectations of you are as a manager.”

Why it’s important: An important criteria by which we chose our “30 Best Companies for Diversity” was the area of senior management representation, which in an organization speaks not only to recruitment and retention but also the development of talent. “Until you get the diversity program connected to the succession—planning process, which is the lifeblood of how talent moves through the organization,” says Bailey, “you’re not going to be successful.” Many of the executives on the roundtable discussed the importance of creating a viable pipeline that extends far enough into the organization to acquire a “critical mass of folks,” says Goodlett.

Challenges: Too many companies have only token representatives of a diverse group. The whole concept of pipeline, Goodlett explains, eliminates token candidates. “The [current] thought process is, if I lose one I’ve got to bring another one in.” The other concern is tracking results. “If you’re not tracking that people are moving up in the organization, you won’t get the result,” says Calhoun.

Solutions: Goodlett and many of the other CDOs agreed that having a robust pipeline supports a range of diverse candidates, even if one or two leave the organization. The two highest-level executives for McDonald’s U.S. business are minorities: president Ralph Alvarez, a Hispanic, and COO Don Thompson, an African American. Harris says this is the result of a competency-based model in developing diverse talent for their pipeline.

Fannie Mae selects candidates by first identifying the core competencies needed to meet the goals of the organization within five years. “We are very clear and very structured about how we train those individuals, and then we track their progress,” says Bailey.

Why it’s important: As a work environment becomes

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