DE&I — A Culture, Not a Program

Peer Practices
Written by Linda Luty

Kim Sullivan

Senior Vice President and Global Chief People Officer


When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, how do we really drive outcomes?

There are a lot of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in place, said Kim Sullivan, senior vice president and global chief people officer at Concentrix. Having been in HR for over 20 years, Sullivan realized that driving outcomes really depends on one important factor — culture.

Culture can be very lofty, but it boils down to how we behave, how we act, how we lead, how we connect and collaborate — and who you bring into your organization to enable them to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging.”


Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a culture, not a program, Sullivan explained. Or, at least, it should be thought of as such in order to make a long-term impact. 

Listening Globally

Global nuances related to diversity shape the conversation; therefore, the needs of different regional teams should have an impact on what is required to foster a culture of inclusion. 

“In some of our countries, we've launched a culture of belonging survey to solicit very specific feedback around how we can better support our leaders and our staff across generations and across disabilities. We have conversations that are less talked about, but to have tough and uncomfortable conversations because we approach it through a community of culture that results in a place where all our staff belong,” said Sullivan.

Investing in Diverse Leadership

Concentrix recently became a publicly traded company, and the diversity of their board reflects a long-term commitment to DE&I.

“The company is looking at diversity and representation in a new way,” she said. "We're really making investments to ensure that we are walking the walk. We want things to be different and we want to be part of the change.”

Concentrix community and culture programs also focus on educating all leaders and employees on allyship. By having conversations about what it means to be an ally, spreading awareness about bias and microaggressions, and completing a gender pay equity analysis, Concentrix is leading the way to foster a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

“We're looking at ways to integrate DE&I in everything we do,” said Sullivan.

For many organizations, staff resource groups are a source of insight and information. Concentrix has received invaluable feedback from their resource groups and made meaningful changes based on their responses.

Staff resource groups for veterans, transgender employees and employees with disabilities, for example, are providing a sense of belonging and valuable insight into how the workplace can better support them.

“We're not building programs and processes that are misaligned with what the needs are of the country or the region,” she said.

Part of the Change

“Building a culture of DE&I is not just an HR mission,” said Sullivan. “We want to make the world a better place, and our long-standing commitment to DE&I is in our DNA, and our 250,000 staff can make a great impact on this work.“

The reasons to create a more inclusive workplace are abundant. Involving leaders and individual contributors from across the business and asking them why this work is important to them has inspired a variety of answers, from “it’s the right thing to do,” to “I have a daughter and I want her to have a better experience.”

“We're going to have channels of diverse leaders representing different countries to talk about what diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging means to them; how that shows up, why they are so passionate about doing our work, and being part of the changes that need to happen within the organization,” said Sullivan.

Actively seeking feedback on talent-related processes and making adjustments accordingly is part of the change process Concentrix is committed to.

Sullivan knows that the shift cannot happen overnight, but starting the work on redesigning recruiting processes, screening and hiring talent is a step in the right direction to ensure that DE&I is engrained from the beginning of the onboarding journey. 

“Investing in diverse leaders, so individuals can see people who look like them, whether you're male or female, or are a certain race, ethnicity or disability or are a veteran — whichever category you’re in — keeps people in the organization, and we retain our talent,” Sullivan added. “This is where the culture piece is really important. We must create an environment where people belong, and we've been doing this work for more than just the past year.”


Special thanks to Kim Sullivan and Concentrix.

by CHROs, for CHROs

Join the conversation with peers in your local CHRO community.