Top Executives in Diversity

Top Executives in Diversity

Diversity matters. In order for American industry to “out-innovate” the rest of the world–to paraphrase our nation’s chief executive–companies will have to demonstrate bold, deliberate policies of inclusion.

Take McDonald’s. The fast-food giant has positioned such initiatives high on its menu in all areas of the company by following three guideposts: diversity education, management commitment, and employee business networks. “Diversity is everybody’s business at McDonald’s and it’s important that we recognize and respect everyone on both sides of the counter,” says Patricia S. Harris, global chief diversity officer of the restaurant company that serves more than 60 million in 117 countries daily. “Diversity is not a destination that we will ever reach. It is a journey that we have decided to take. We are fortunate to have a management team that gets it and supports it.”

This philosophy is reflected in numbers and actions. McDonald’s, one of black enterprise’s Best Companies for Diversity, has long valued diversity in its workforce (women and minorities make up more than 80% of its workforce and nearly 50% of its officers are minorities; 22% are African American) and supplier inclusion (55% of the procurement spend, or $5 billion annually, is with minority- and female-owned businesses). Twice a year Harris presents programs and performance metrics to the board of directors. The company offers its employees workshops at the corporate and regional level. Its Leadership At McDonald’s Program (LAMP) identifies high-potential directors of diverse backgrounds to move them through the pipeline into future leadership positions. Moreover, ongoing dialogue takes place among leaders of regional and corporate employee business networks. Harris asserts: “These employee networks began more than 30 years ago, and at that time were more social in nature. Today, our employee business networks have business plans that support our company’s vision.”

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