Leadership

3 Promising Diversity Programs

Diverse professionals

Diversity and inclusion used to be one of those things that companies created a statement for to put on their website, or talk a lot about, but not really implement. However, more and more corporations now have some kind of diversity and inclusion officer position and are striving to ensure that they not only have the data to show they are diverse, but that their employees actually feel they have an equal chance to grow and succeed.

In recent days, transparency and commitment in attempts towards diversity and inclusion has become more important to companies than ever before.

Here are three companies who have innovative programs that seem to go beyond “talking the talk” and show real promise for improving diversity in their organizations. These are 3 programs we recommend keeping an eye on and even taking inspiration from.

Gap Inc.

What makes Gap Inc. stand out on this list is ASCEND, a new program devoted to developing an inclusive, diverse workforce and a pipeline of future leaders. ASCEND is designed to help minority leaders realize their potential and achieve their career aspirations through mentorship, building opportunity and individual capability building.

Another major win for Gap Inc is the Color Proud Council, Gap Inc.’s first product inclusion initiative. It had a mission to challenging industry norms and too-often accepted biases by putting an inclusive lens on fundamental aspects of business, including: product design, merchandising, and marketing, as well as expanding efforts to recruit, develop and retain diverse talent. One result of the council’s work was the Banana Republic’s True Hues Line, a collection of nude undergarments and shoes that better represent a range of skin tones. When it debuted, it drove sales by 21 percent.

Gap Inc. also has a variety of diversity and inclusion programs for its employees such as unconscious bias training, a robust mentorship program, and a supplier inclusion program. There are seven networking groups for those with diverse backgrounds, along with three advisory groups focused on equality and cross-cultural issues.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care organization, shows its commitment to ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity at all levels: Nearly two-thirds of their total workforce are members of racial, ethnic, or cultural minorities, and nearly half of their boards are people of color.

Creating this inclusive workforce is the result of several programs and initiatives dedicated to recruiting and supporting potential diverse leadership in a companyand current employees from underrepresented groups, leadership development for managers from under-represented groups, creating talent strategies for veterans and individuals with disabilities and improving inclusion across the organization. They also have a robust and diverse Business Resource Groups that not only allow similarly-identified employees to connect, but to work together in their efforts to improve health outcomes for all people.

And Kaiser doesn’t just concentrate on diversity in-house: It focuses on providing culturally-acceptable medical care and culturally-appropriate services to all of the 140 cultures currently represented in the population of the US.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson’s Global Diversity and Inclusion vision is “to maximize the global power of diversity and inclusion to drive superior business results and sustainable competitive advantage.” Their implementation strategy is based on three pillars: advancing a culture of inclusion and innovation, building a diverse workforce for the future, and enhancing business performance and reputation.

Diversity and inclusion are weaved throughout the organization. At the top, their Office of Global Diversity & Inclusion reports to the Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, who is a Corporate Officer and a member of the Johnson & Johnson Executive Committee. There are also 12 voluntary, employee-led groups Employee Resource Groups that connect and engage employees across the company to develop their potential, build relationship capital and drive an inclusive environment and culture for a more productive organization. Johnson & Johnson is a leader at taking these groups and using them to attract diverse talent at national recruiting events, help provide employee leadership development opportunities, and support several community patient initiatives to drive greater health and wellness education for underserved markets.

Road to Improvement

These companies are all part of corporate America, and have hundreds of thousands of employees. But there are countless other companies and smaller, local businesses all doing the right thing. If anything can be learned by the success of these companies that are doing it right, it’s that really listening to diverse employees about what they want and need can often translate into a better business model.


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