W1hat-’s Y2our-Div3ersi-ty S4tage?
When we reviewed the 401 submissions for The 2009 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®
competition, there were clear delineations between companies, demonstrating that they are at different stages in their diversity initiatives.
This resonated with me recently when, in the course of one week, we visited two companies that had purchased our benchmarking service. The first company was new to our benchmarking product and had many
questions about basic how-to’s in diversity management.
Like many companies just getting started, this company’s CEO had shown some support but still needed
to be convinced of how critical diversity is to their line of business, which is both consumer-facing and B-to-B.
This company had instituted
domestic-partner benefits within
the past two years and had started
some other initiatives, such as a
supplier-diversity program and diversity training.
It, however, lacked what we have
documented are the two greatest
drivers to talent retention and
promotion: formal, cross-cultural
mentoring and employee-resource
groups. And employee-resource
groups also are the single most
the way with new ones.
The issue here is that this company’s modest culture has prevented its diversity leaders from telling
anyone—internally or externally—
what they were accomplishing. And
an unfocused communications plan
exacerbates the problem and dilutes
their overall efforts.
We’ve realized there are stages of
diversity development, and a company’s needs change dramatically as
it moves from one stage to another.
Our benchmarking product
evolves along with the company.
cited method of driving innovation
and reaching multicultural markets
The second company is a long-time diversity leader whose competitors have begun to outpace its
diversity efforts. This company does
not have a lack of commitment at
any level (and has a CEO who is a
passionate diversity advocate). Nor
has this company failed to implement proven best practices and lead
That’s why our benchmarking
product evolves along with the company. We note certain triggers that
indicate a company’s stage of diversity development and then know
the specific solutions that will take it
to the next stage.
The first company here is an
early-stage diversity company, which
means it needs strong support in
making the business case for diversity to senior executives so it can get
the budget to advance its diversity
initiative. The CEO needs to be convinced to take a public, active role as
a diversity champion, and he must
be given a clear, concise picture of
the actual competitive benefits.
The second company is at an
advanced stage but is failing to remain competitive because of a clear
lack of branding—or understanding
how critical that branding is.
We’ve seen this in a few other
companies with long-term diversity
commitment. When they started as
diversity leaders, the competition
was so scarce they didn’t need to
worry about telling employees, customers, suppliers and investors how
they were doing.
The world is a very different
place now. Companies that fail to
use all of their diversity advantages—especially placement on The
DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for
Diversity list—will find themselves
falling behind rapidly.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT,
@To better understand the stages of corporate diversity, contact Barbara Frankel at bfrankel@ DiversityInc.com