Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Voice of the CHRO Community

Elizabeth Adefioye

Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

Ingredion

Ingredion is a leading global ingredient solutions provider serving customers in more than 120 countries with 2019 annual net sales of more than $6 billion.

Fran Coady

SVP, HR

Day & Zimmermann Group

Day & Zimmermann Group is a family-owned company with 41,000 employees specializing in construction & engineering, staffing and defense solutions.

Kim Sullivan

Senior Vice President and Global Chief People Officer

Concentrix

Concentrix is a technology-enabled global business services company specializing in customer engagement and improving business performance for some of the world’s best brands.

OCTOBER 2020

Introduction


Organizations Taking a Stand

For CHROs, 2020 has been a year of pivoting from one urgent priority to the next. HR leaders started the year in a critical role focused on the pandemic, employee health and safety, a remote workforce, and the economic consequences for their companies. Then, a worldwide movement to fight racial injustice presented both a challenge and an opportunity for HR teams and their organizations.

The challenge for HR leaders was to respond to current events in a timely, appropriate way that reflected their employee needs and corporate values. Conversations about racial injustice also thrust their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to the forefront, providing CHROs with the opportunity to drive real and lasting change in their organizations.

 

Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion: 3 Themes


Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace are now at the forefront of conversations for business leaders, as employees, customers, and other stakeholders demand answers and transparency from companies. 

As leaders of people and culture, CHROs are often looked to for guidance, and this year has demonstrated the importance of leadership, communication, influence and openness to change. CHROs have been meeting virtually over the past six months to collaborate on shared challenges and discuss inclusion programs and their commitment to diversity amidst the evolving challenges of 2020. 

Three themes emerged from those discussions:

  1. Engaging with the Workforce

Organizations have been addressing DE&I for years, but CHROs report that they are engaging with employees in a variety of new ways since the recent social unrest.

  1. Impacting Inclusion

CHROs predict current actions and the prioritization of diversity and inclusion programs will impact their company’s approach to equity going forward.

  1. Effecting Long-Term Change

HR leaders discuss what longer-term actions are needed to make a difference both in the workforce and general community.

 

1. Engaging with the Workforce


From panel discussions and ‘real talks’ to listening tours for C-suite executives, HR leaders are engaging with their workforces and providing forums to address issues of racial inequality.

Community Voices

We have been working on addressing issues around racial equality and focusing on amplifying brown and black belonging in the workplace since the end of 2019. Following the murder of George Floyd, we have created a space for reflection, candid conversation and education. Right after the tragic Memorial Holiday weekend events, we responded with a letter to the organization expressing solidarity with our black employees, emphasizing Ingredion’s Everyone Belongs value and being transparent about the challenges and the work we need to do at Ingredion towards racial equity.

Elizabeth Adefioye
Chicago CHRO Community

We have taken a multi-faceted approach. First, our CEO sent out a letter to our entire organization at the beginning of the summer,  as the George Floyd related protests were starting, reaffirming our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and expressing our deep concerns about Mr. Floyd’s death. We stated our support for peaceful protests and encouraged supervisors to check in and be supportive of  their teams amongst all the turmoil. We followed that up with a virtual Town Hall, where a panel of employees had an open invitation to share their experiences, and employees got to ask the panel questions.

Fran Coady
Philadelphia CHRO Community

In the wake of racial awakening in the US, we launched Executive Leadership Listening Tours and an Uncomfortable Truths Campaign. Conversations were kicked off by the Concentrix CEO and Chief People Officer. Our Community and Culture team built the infrastructure to launch circles in every one of our regions, across 40 countries, in which we’re listening to the experiences of our employees specifically around racism and discrimination.

Kim Sullivan
San Francisco CHRO Community

CHROs are tailoring some approaches for the different generational backgrounds of their employees, but seeing support for their initiatives regardless.

Community Voices

We focused our response on sharing lived experience by the different generations in the workplace, to promote empathy and mutual understanding. Our workforce includes mostly four different generations that grew up in worlds with different opportunities. Baby Boomers, for example, had a harder time understanding why as a company we need to address the issues of racial equality. Hearing their fellow BIPOC Baby Boomers, who are the children of the Civil Rights Movement, share their lived experience helped them realize what their co-workers are experiencing inside and outside of the workplace.

Elizabeth Adefioye
Chicago CHRO Community

We reinforced our expectations that employees will not engage in hate speech or other discriminatory behavior both at work and on social media, and have followed that up with a virtual training program on our expectations regarding the proper use of social media.

Fran Coady
Philadelphia CHRO Community

Fortunately, we’ve seen a wave of support from many generational backgrounds. Because of the global diversity of our employees, there is a broad level of support from our leadership and beyond. We have strong cultural values and are leveraging the strength of our culture to dig in deeper to do greater DEI work. We’re building the capability around diversity, equity and inclusion.

Kim Sullivan
San Francisco CHRO Community

 

2. Impacting Inclusion


CHROs reflect on how their recent actions to address racial injustice and incorporate employee input and feedback will impact their company’s approach to inclusion and diversity going forward.

Community Voices

We have learned that employees would like more education and training on how to approach the difficult conversations and become allies. Our employees also expect more transparency about certain processes. From our BIPOC, we have learned that the organization needs to address institutional racism, especially policies and procedures that are creating inequities, provide our non-BIPOC employees with unconscious bias training, and review our approach to community investments and school partnerships.

Elizabeth Adefioye
Chicago CHRO Community

We already had a very strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and plan to continue the dialogue. We have provided talking points to managers, and have expressed our strong expectations that managers and supervisors will behave with empathy and understanding as employees wrestle with these issues, including checking in with their teams regularly and expressing their own commitment to DEI.

Fran Coady
Philadelphia CHRO Community

The feedback we’ve heard from our employees has shaped the direction we’re taking our DEI programming. We have an end-to-end approach that allows employees to connect to the work in a meaningful way. To get employees grounded, we’re currently building our asset library. The priority work includes micro-learnings and resources specifically to address experiences expressed by our Black employees that include topics around microaggressions, allyship and demystifying Black Lives Matter. Our teams are also creating learning journey maps to take all employees on a journey to undoing structural racism, discrimination and unconscious bias. We’re aligning this to a common framework of creating spaces of belonging, the common thread that binds our employees together from across the world.

Kim Sullivan
San Francisco CHRO Community

 

3. Effecting Long-Term Change


CHROs recognize that there are no simple solutions to systemic racism, but also believe that taking long-term actions can make a difference to the workforce and the community.

Community Voices

First, it’s important to review your policies and practices and address the ones that could be creating more inequities. Second, commit to diversifying your C-suite — change starts at the top, and ensure the BIPOC leaders have real power to recommend changes that would make your company more equitable. Third, complete a study on and address pay equity. Fourth, tie the DEI goals to the compensation and bonuses to keep leaders accountable. Fifth, invest in the community, support social justice organizations and use your business as a force for good.

Elizabeth Adefioye
Chicago CHRO Community

We regularly remind our teams (and will continue to do so) that organizations are made up of people, who are capable of bringing their own biases into the workplace. While we cannot (and don’t want to) control what people think and believe, we can and should set expectations of how they behave, and will continue to hold them accountable if their behavior is inconsistent with our values, standards, and expectations.

Fran Coady
Philadelphia CHRO Community

We’re focused on building leadership capabilities, beginning with our C-Suite Executive Leadership Team. As an action to demonstrate our commitment to creating a more equitable workplace, we’ve prioritized a plan to evaluate and update Concentrix policies with a bias and equity lens. We’ve hired employees to have a focus on building the strategy around workforce equity. We are on track to launch a multi-year racial equity strategy.

Kim Sullivan
San Francisco CHRO Community

 

Conclusion


 

Through listening forums, direct outreach, and engagement surveys, CHROs are working hard to understand the specific concerns of employees and use their input to drive diversity and inclusion initiatives. They are applying what they learn in new ways —and incorporating it into existing policies with a lens toward equity. 

Many HR leaders have created a permanent forum for their employees to provide ongoing feedback. Most are offering new resources and training on difficult conversations, allyship, being anti-racist and more. As one CHRO explained, “We want to ensure that there is no additional emotional labor put on our black employees to educate the majority.”

CHROs are also influencing their C-suite peers to be involved, visible and proactive with their support and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Communicating their actions and providing clear roadmaps for progress are proving essential to advancing the mission of racial equity at their organizations.

 

Special thanks to all participating companies.

by CHROs, for CHROs


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