Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.

10 Awesome Diversity Initiatives

We know the research says that diverse organisations do better than homogenous ones. But how can you really build a culture of diversity and inclusion? I’ve search the globe for some inspiring case studies of awesome diversity initiatives that companies are doing. Here are the best that I’ve found! If you’ve got other examples, please do feel free to share them in the comments.

  1. Groupies

At AT&T they work to have a “true culture of inclusion where every voice matters”. They have a dozen ERP’s (employee resource groups) and EN’s (employee networks) which are not for profit groups who support advocacy, education, mentoring and support. There are ERP’s and EN’s for women, different generations, people with disabilities, military veterans and the LGTBI community.

Pinterest have Inclusion Labs where they experiment with different ways to create diversity.

Could you establish ERP’s or networks in your company for different groups?

  1. Training
  • Johnson & Johnson have established a ‘Diversity University’ which is a dynamic website that helps employees to understand the benefits of working collaboratively.
  • Coca-Cola takes diversity education seriously. They have a diversity training programme, a Diversity Speaker series and a Diversity Library.
  • Accenture have 3 different streams of diversity training. The first is Diversity Awareness – for people to understand the benefits of diversity. The second is Diversity Management – to equip managers to manage a diverse team and the third stream is Professional Development – to help women, LGBTI and different ethnic groups build skills.

Could you provide more online information about diversity and collaboration? Could you start a library? What diversity training do you offer?

  1. Combating Privilege

The UK has one of the poorest rates of social mobility in the developed world, which means that people born into low-income families, regardless of their talent, or their hard work, do not have the same access to opportunities as those born into more privileged circumstances. This means students from wealthier families tend to go to more highly regarded universities, which leads to them getting higher profile jobs versus those students who come from less well off backgrounds.

Deloitte are working to ensure applicants are judged based on their own merit (and not on the situation they were born into) by blotting out which schools and universities candidates went to. They also teamed up diversity recruitment consulting company, Rare, and are using “contextualisation” in their hiring process. Rare has built a comprehensive algorithm using both public information and application data to highlight students who have overcome tough situations, like getting great results while being the first in your family to go to university, or someone who was on a scholarship due to low income. This makes it possible for Deloitte to judge an applicant’s performance in the context in which they achieved it, something which “allows us to look for potential, instead of always focusing on past performance,” says Deloitte’s UK Head of Resourcing, Victoria Lawes.

Are you building processes that look at the context of how a candidate achieved what they did?

  1. Working Parents

Coca-Cola offer 6 weeks of paid parental leave which is extended to both mothers and fathers. This was inspired by one of their network groups ‘Millennial Voices’ who work to create a healthy level of staff retention.

Do you provide great benefits for working mums and dads?

  1. Doing a Rooney

Pinterest are using a number of methods to ensure that they recruit a diverse range of people and that biases are not stopping this. They use a Rooney Rule type requirement (The Rooney Rule is a US National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs) and have one person from an under-represented background on an interview panel, and always have a female on management interview panels. Pinterest then also have an intern programme for students from under-represented groups.

Pinterest also offer a bonus in their employee referral schemes if you refer someone who is from an under-represented group! People tend to refer people who are just like them, so this makes them think about other people they have met who could fit at the company. Over 6 weeks they say a 24% increase in the number of women being referred (developers are mainly male and they wanted more females) and a 55% increase in people with different ethnicities.

How are you making sure under-represented groups are not being discriminated against (even subconsciously)?  Does your employee referral scheme pay extra for building diversity?

  1. Diversability
  • Accenture work to support people with disabilities with flexible working and assistive technology and have a company-wide celebration on International People with Disabilities Day.
  • Novartis have changed the word disability to ‘diversabiity’ as they don’t view people with disabilities having limited abilities, but having diverse skills and proficiencies.
  • Bitty & Beau’s café in Wilmington, North Carolina, only hire people with intellectual and development disabilities. They say – Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee – it’s an experience. While the shop is run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the customers love the products, they really come in for the unique customer service experience. When you value people, accepting and including them comes naturally. The Wrights who founded the café, have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place for their children and others living with IDD.

How do you support people with disabilities? Could you be more proactive in welcoming people with disabilities into your company?

  1. Rainbow Tick

It was a close race here in New Zealand when the Rainbow Tick launched in 2014. Simpson Grierson became the first company who were given the tick for creating a welcoming culture for LGBTI. Coca-Cola and then Sky City were close behind. The Rainbow Tick involves working through an audit of your processes to check that you have policies and a culture that is inclusive for those in the LGBTI community. Simpson Grierson was also the runner up for the HR Game Changer Awards in 2014 for their work in this space.

 How do you support the LGBTI communicty? Could you be more proactive in this area? Could you qualify for the Rainbow Tick?

  1. Women can do ‘male’ jobs

A few years ago I heard Kate Daly talk about when Fletcher Building couldn’t find enough concrete truck drivers. So they changed the rosters so the work was between school hours and targeted mums who children had gone back to school and were looking for part time work. They now have a whole group of female concrete truck drivers and they found they were actually more careful drivers and have less accidents!

Ports of Auckland also found that they had no women in many of their wharf side roles. They found it was due to traditional recruitment and promotion policies. You had to start as a lasher for five to eight years, before promotion to straddle driver for 20 years, followed by promotion to crane driver. They reviewed whether you had to be a lasher to be a good straddle driver and found one involves brute strength, the other driving skills. They started recruiting on skills, rather than longevity and women started applying for the roles. They now have lots of women wharfies!

Could you change your rosters to allow mums or dads who are primary care givers to work part time? Are your recruitment practises about skills rather than experience?  Have you reviewed what’s causing your lack of diversity and then fixed it?

  1. Reversing it

At Mastercard they have got older workers in the company more active on social media, by introducing a ‘reverse Social Media mentoring’ programme. This is run by their YoPros BRG – the Young Professionals Business Resource Group, who mentor older employees about how to use different social media platforms.

NZ Tour company Real Journeys recently won the Diversity Works Supreme Award for their initiative to address the frustration from the younger employees looking to progress and how to manage the retirement of their over 50 year launch masters. They have trained 6 Launch Masters as ‘Wisdom Workers’ who are NZQA qualified workplace assessors.  Then they have launched a mentoring and training programme which they’ve aligned with Maritime NZ and got this accredited. The ‘Wisdom Workers’ then meet with employees working through the training programme to encourage then and support them. In 20 months, more than 250 employees have competed the crew qualifications.

Could you introduce reverse mentoring? Are there areas that your older workers could learn from younger ones? Could your older workers become official mentors or train or mentor younger ones in particular areas?

  1. It’s all about the money

Salesforce decided there was an easy way to solve that women on average paid 12% less than men. They reviewed all 17,000 employees salaries and where a woman was in the same role but earning less, they increased her salary to match her male counterpart. Approximately 6% of employees needed a pay increase and it cost Salesforce $3million. They can now say they pay women the same as men.

Here in New Zealand Youthtown have won an equal pay award. They undertook an equal pay audit in order to understand their equal pay status and discovered an overall pay differential of 3.1% that they had not been aware of. They took action. They reviewed their systems and processes – including how they recruit, pay, recognise and reward our staff, develop staff and manage talent. They also introduced new policies and processes to further ensure that they pay people fairly, while ensuring that they do not in any way restrict the employment and development opportunities for staff with family responsibilities.

Are you paying your male employees more? Could you audit and check? Could you then fix any pay inequality you have in your business?


More Information & Links

For more about Deloitte’s programme just click here.

For more about the Rainbow Tick click here.

For more about the Management Bites Diversity workshop click here.


Angela Atkins is People and Learning Director for Elephant Group NZ and Elephant Group UK – and also developed the Management Bites training programme. She is best-selling author of the bites series of books and is passionate about helping HR and managers create better businesses. You can read more of her writing by following her blog HRManagementbites.

And if you want to see Angela present, you’re still in time to register for the HR Advisors One Day of HR Inspiration on Wed 25 October. Just click here for more.


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This entry was posted on September 25, 2017 by in culture and tagged , , , , , .
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