Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/927951

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Page 34 of 51

d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m W i n t e r 2 0 1 8 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 33 Her approach became a valuable part of the company's strategy, clearly highlight- ing the business value of diversity. Talent management Demographers estimate that by 2044 more than half the US population will be non-Caucasian. is is a global trend, as more and more countries, particularly in the West, are becoming less racially homogenous. Further, the workforce is becoming more age diversified, as four generations (baby boom and gen X,Y, and Z) work side by side, with millennials comprising the largest share. e ripple effects of this diverse population are be- ing felt throughout workplaces. is demographic diversification im- pacts companies. ese impacts include, for example, workplaces needing to in- clude employees from a variety of cultures, such as the growing number of Muslim employees—the fastest-growing religious group in the United States—and the real- ity that a larger majority of women aspire to leadership positions than before. Recognizing this changing workforce, emphasizing diversity, and committing to inclusion are necessary to attract and retain talent. Companies that don't take these factors into account are in danger of losing top talent to competitors. Diversity matters because "work envi- ronments that are diverse and inclusive foster feelings of belonging, engagement, and security, which, in turn, drive em- ployee satisfaction and retention, and drive innovation," says Meyer-Shipp. Janice Little, the CDO of Lowe's, agrees. "A diversity strategy creates a value to cus- tomers, and aligns with creating a highly engaged workforce," she says. "Strong D&I practitioners today know how to connect all those dots—and this takes innovation." e design of a parental leave policy is one example of how a company's strat- egy can engage—or alienate—employ- ees. "When companies market maternity leave just to women, we miss the millen- nial father who may be just as interested in time off to bond," Little says. "We also forget to include members of the LGBT community who may be adopting, or sur- rogates." Traditional approaches to diversity must evolve with the times. In some early assessments, Little found that male em- ployees were more vocal advocates for parental leave than women. "We must be willing and able to change our perspec- tives constantly," Little says. Better products and customer service Another reason greater diversity in Cor- porate America's workforce is critical, say its supporters, is that our communities are becoming more diverse, and there- fore employees need to reflect the market they are trying to reach. Organizations risk losing customers by not prioritizing diversity. In 2015, the artificial intelligence tech- nology that powered Google Photos iden- tified images of a black man and woman as gorillas. e sophisticated facial rec- ognition software was an exciting break- through for the company, but the error brought it attention for all the wrong rea- sons. e company apologized profusely, but the damage had been done. Nancy Lee, Google's head of diversity initiatives at the time, told the Associ- ated Press that the incident was a "wake- up call" for the company. "We need to include all voices from a multitude of backgrounds and experiences [when it comes to the] technology we create. We firmly believe that good ideas don't come out of echo chambers," she said in the in- terview. But even in 2017, only 1 percent of Google's technology teams comprise black employees. As companies reach new heights to innovate, failing to approach business through the lens of diversity can also hinder reaching target customers. Lowe's Janice Little recalls an example at a previ- ous company where products for children going to college were being marketed to fathers, rather than mothers. "We were advertising to men, although women were making the purchasing decisions," she says. "We quickly began spending our time learning how we could do consumer marketing with a D&I lens." Kellogg's Wiley-Little admits to hesitat- ing when she was first charged with lead- ing diversity in a previous role, a shift from her background in compensation and eco- nomic benefits. "I remember asking the company's CEO, 'Why am I leading this?'" she says. Her CEO promptly responded that she was great at building strategy, and that's what this work requires. "Something happens to the heart over time when you see your strategy chang- ing lives," she says, "when you see execu- tives from different backgrounds excel, when the organization begins embracing Michele C. Meyer-Shipp, Esq. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP Janice Little Global Chief Diversity Officer, Lowe's Companies Why Diversity Matters

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