What Does Diversity Mean for Employees? - Page 2 of 2

What Does Diversity Mean for Employees?

Patricia Crawford, chief diversity officer at Wells Fargo, admits that the financial services company lacks a companywide definition of diversity. For guidance, it looks to industry surveys, trade journals, and organizations that determine industry standards. The company follows a three-pronged diversity effort. “We look at talent acquisition, team member engagement, and community involvement,” Crawford says.

According to the diversity survey Wells Fargo submitted to Black Enterprise for our annual diversity issue, in 2007 221 of nearly 2,300 Wells Fargo senior managers were ethnic minorities. Crawford says the company’s Diverse Leaders Program for Asians, Latinos, and African Americans aims to increase the retention of employees with leadership potential. To date, participants have a 94% retention rate and are periodically tracked by reviewing their job status. Leaders at companies such as State Farm Insurance understand that diversity initiatives offer a competitive advantage.

State Farm developed its companywide definition of diversity in 2002 after it established an office of diversity and inclusion. The company defines diversity as the collective strength of experiences, skills, and cultures that each agent and employee brings to the company. “It’s about creating a dynamic work environment that engages our employees, who can in turn develop solutions that meet our customers’ needs,” says Laura Haas, assistant vice president of diversity, inclusion, and human resources.

State Farm gauges its success by conducting a companywide survey that includes a diversity and inclusion index, a measurement linked to employee perception. Barb McShane, manager of the office of diversity and inclusion, has noticed an upward trend in the index. Says Haas, “For us to compete, we have to think differently, behave differently, and have a diversity of thought.’

This story originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.