Innovation happens when aspiration and inspiration meet commitment and hard work, and turn powerful ideas into exciting realities. Innovations in diversity and inclusion show all of us new possibilities that can transform cultural and social landscapes across the globe. Innovative thinking invites us, as individuals and organizations, to embrace a new and better future.
Profiles in Diversity Journal is proud to share this year’s ambitious—and sometimes revolutionary— innovations in diversity from 19 of the world’s leading companies. They are programs and initiatives that are taking diversity and inclusion to a new level.
Please explore and enjoy the creative ideas on the following pages. One of these exceptional and exciting innovations in diversity may be your company’s best next step.
Profiles in Diversity Journal’s
Top Ten Innovations in Diversity for 2020
(in alphabetical order)
1. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD): Signing Up for Belonging
In brief: AMD implemented an ERG (Employee Resource Group) Sign Up feature within AMD’s New Hire Onboarding platform. New hires may view and select ERGs they would like to join. ERG site leads serve as cultural ambassadors, welcoming the new hire, communicating AMD’s commitment to belonging, and inviting them to attend an event. This unique but simple process has been very successful in allowing candidates to feel attached to AMD before they walk in the door. More than 1,400 new employees have signed up to learn more about ERGs since the launch. New employees are positively impacted by this program, as they connect with current employees before their start date and have a head start on engaging with AMD.
2. CVS Health: Community-Based COVID-19 Testing
In brief: In early April, CVS Health formed a task force to determine how the company could be most impactful and expand its reach in the communities it serves. Operations, legal and government affairs, strategic diversity management, community relations, and corporate communications worked collaboratively to identify and break down barriers that might keep those who need it most from receiving COVID-19 testing and public information. The company has particularly focused on reaching Black people and other people of color who may not otherwise have access to testing. There are now more than 4,000 CVS Pharmacy locations in 33 states and the District of Columbia, offering no-cost self-swab testing. CVS Health also operates 11 free, community-based testing sites and has tested more than 100,000 people. Results are provided on the spot and testing is available to patients at no cost.
3. Dechert LLP: Building Understanding: A comprehensive program to deepen our understanding of racism, anti-racist practices and ally-ship
In brief: In response to Black Lives Matter, Dechert implemented a comprehensive employee program to deepen our understanding of racism, anti-racist practices, and ally-ship. Resources and programs include the following: Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit: Available on the firm’s intranet, it offers hundreds of resources, including movies, articles, podcasts, book recommendations, and access to training and volunteer opportunities. Juneteenth—A Day to Reflect and Recharge: U.S. operations close early, giving U.S.- based employees a half day of leave and encouraging all employees to reflect and learn. Virtual Forums for Black Employees: These provide an opportunity for people to share how they are feeling, listen to each other, and offer support in a safe space. Stand Against Racism Town Hall and Speaker Series: Addresses recent events related to racism and social justice in the United States and around the world. People are feeling supported and listened to, and difficult conversations are being had.
4. Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and Clark | Weitz | Clarkson: New Terminal Project at Kansas City International Airport
In brief: When Edgemoor was selected to build the new $1.5 billion airport terminal at Kansas City International Airport, it promised the project would reach historic and transformative levels of diversity, spurring economic growth for minority and women-owned businesses. Edgemoor and its design-builder, Clark|Weitz|Clarkson (CWC), have added more than 100 MBE and WBE partners to the New Terminal project roster since the start of procurement in 2018 and awarded more than $240 million in contracts to these firms of the $950 million of subcontracted work on the project. Edgemoor also rolled out programs to remove barriers that typically impact small, disadvantaged, minority, and women-owned businesses, including A Pay Without Delay program to ensure firms are paid within 14 days for their work; Low-Interest Loan program to help M/WBE firms acquire equipment and working capital; KCI Supplier Support program, which allows M/WBE contractors to leverage CWC’s purchasing power to rent or buy equipment; and An executive MBA-style program for M/WBE, veteran-owned, and disadvantaged businesses, free of charge.
5. Idaho National Laboratory: Embedding Inclusive Diversity into the Fabric of the Organization
In brief: In 2017, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research, embarked on a new journey towards inclusive diversity, a fresh approach to inclusion grounded in psychological safety, treating everyone with dignity and respect, and creating a sense of belonging. The goal was to double the number of women and people of color, while strengthening INL’s success among military veterans and employees with disabilities. Since the program’s inception, INL’s Executive Leadership Team has grown to 23% people of color, 23% military veterans, and 12% people with disabilities. Women made up 35% of the executive team in fiscal year 2019. During this same timeframe, INL substantially reduced women attrition lab-wide by 53% by focusing on retention, psychological safety, and inclusive career development. To date, INL has saved $1.6M dollars by focusing on retention—$1.2M specifically, through retaining women and people of color.
6. Ingersoll Rand: Lean into Change: Cross-Cultural Conversations
In brief: After the merger of Gardner Denver and Ingersoll Rand’s Industrial Segment in March 2020, an Ingersoll Rand task force devised Lean into Change, a series of conversations to create a safe space for sharing experiences and forging meaningful connections across cultural boundaries. The purpose was for employees to experience the new company’s values, including a commitment to inclusion, belonging, respect, and equity. Lean into Change has yielded significant results. A post-session employee survey indicated two-thirds of participants strongly agreed it was a valuable investment of time and felt motivated to apply what they learned. One hundred percent either agreed or strongly agreed they gained fresh and invigorating perspectives. The company has since launched a facilitation guide, compiled a resource list to support discussion, and extended training to Latin America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
7. Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP: Diverse Pipeline Outreach Program
In brief: The Nelson Mullins Diverse Pipeline Outreach program goes beyond simply recruiting diverse candidates for employment; it takes a holistic approach to preparing diverse undergraduates for successful careers in the field of law. The program uses a localized approach to increasing diversity in the legal profession by directly targeting communities Nelson Mullins serves. The Columbia, South Carolina-based firm is partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Carolinas and Georgia to reach a wide range of undergraduates. Nelson Mullins’ team engages students on a personal level, providing them with curriculum guidance, skill set development, networking opportunities, attorney-led practice sessions, and one-on-one mentorship. Additionally, the program provides one paid internship per participating school. Although delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diverse Pipeline Outreach program has been successfully launched at North Carolina Central University. It will place its first intern in the spring of 2021.
8. New York Life: Coming Together: Impact of COVID-19 Series
In brief: Recognizing the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has on diverse communities, New York Life leveraged an existing program—the Coming Together: Courageous Conversation Series—to respond to emerging needs. This new series of conversations, entitled the Impact of COVID-19, launched in April, just one month after the pandemic emerged in the United States. The inaugural session, Fear and Bias, addressed the prevalence of racism and xenophobia faced by the Asian community during the pandemic. The series supports all seven of the company’s Employee Resource Groups and raises awareness regarding the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on diverse communities. Employees can share their perspectives on challenging issues, hear from industry experts, gain a deeper understanding of what their colleagues may be facing, and learn coping mechanisms. Each Impact of COVID-19 session is supported by a comprehensive resource guide for employees.
9. Sephora: “We Belong to Something Beautiful”: Leading the Way in Beauty and Retail DEI
In brief: Last year, Sephora debuted its “We Belong to Something Beautiful” campaign to build the most inclusive beauty community in the industry. In June 2020, as widespread calls for racial justice took hold, major brands and companies were called upon to do more than voice their support for the movement— they were challenged to take meaningful action. Sephora did just that by making these industry-first commitments: Fifteen-percent Pledge–Sephora became the first major retailer to commit to dedicating 15% of its shelf space to Black-owned brands; Racial Bias in Retail Study–Sephora offered initial findings from its first-of-kind national Racial Bias in Retail Study; and Beauty Insider Points Donations–Sephora refreshed its Beauty Insider loyalty program, enabling members to turn their points into cash donations to the National Black Justice Coalition, NAACP, and other organizations supporting social causes. This effort has raised more than $1 million to date.
10. Ulmer & Berne LLP: “Stop the Hate” Program Series
In brief: Ulmer’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee launched its “Stop the Hate” series of programming to examine the rise of hate and bigotry in our society, and respond with meaningful discussions on how to fight acts of injustice, racism, and discrimination. The firm goal in creating the Stop the Hate series was to create dynamic programs that would inspire important conversations to help move this country forward. Attendees have benefited from learning about family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border, the recent Supreme Court decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, barriers to voting that have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities, social protest and First Amendment rights, and personal stories of overcoming and fighting racism and discrimination. Stop the Hate webinars have had firm-wide participation and been well-attended by clients and friends, and follow-up surveys validate the series. Membership on Ulmer’s DEI team has also increased.
Innovations in Diversity Awards of Excellence
(in alphabetical order)
11. BBC: 50:50 The Equality Project
In brief: 50:50 The Equality Project inspires and supports organizations around the globe to consistently create media content that fairly represents our world. This grassroots initiative is distinct from other diversity programs because it is voluntary and self-monitoring, and uses data to effect cultural change. Teams track and share their own performance. In turn, this helps drive motivation and keeps fair representation front of content-makers’ minds. 50:50 is the BBC’s biggest collective action on increasing women’s representation—involving 600 BBC teams across 35 countries. The team is now expanding the successful model to other diversities, starting with representation of race/ethnicity and disability.
12. HCA Healthcare: Virtually Flipping the Switch: Creating a Consciously Inclusive Environment through COVID-19
In brief: A key element of HCA Healthcare’s 2020 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy was to educate its leaders and equip them with the practical knowledge, skills, and resources to intentionally create an environment where all colleagues feel an authentic sense of belonging. To do so, the company developed an interactive conscious inclusion (CI) training experience that explores different types of unconscious bias and strategies to promote inclusion. When in-person training paused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company pivoted to a new delivery model and reworked the CI training. The new virtual experience includes breakout rooms and other techniques for engagement, as well as post-course resources to engage participants in continued learning. As of October 20, 1,503 colleagues across the enterprise have participated in CI training.
13. Ingersoll Rand: Unity through Diversity: Purpose & Values Brought to Life
In brief: After the merger of Gardner Denver and Ingersoll Rand’s Industrial Segment in March 2020, the new company needed to integrate two cultures and unite 16,000 global employees. Purpose & Values Activation Sessions, small-group workshops, were created to forge connections between employees and the new company’s purpose and values, including fostering inspired teams and cultivating a sense of inclusion, belonging and respect. Internal leaders delivered the workshops (primarily virtually) and gained employee trust as a result. From the factory worker in Shanghai to the Illinois salesperson, employees were able to share their values, dig into the meaning behind the company’s purpose and values, and identify a personal activation plan. The stronger team culture that resulted helped spur innovation and ensure that Ingersoll Rand businesses achieved or surpassed quarterly goals despite the pandemic.
14. Latham & Watkins LLP: Allies@Latham
In brief: The Allies@Latham initiative seeks to strengthen Latham’s culture of inclusion by leveraging allyship to support those from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in the legal industry at every stage in their careers. Latham launched the initiative, as the logical follow-on to a highly successful yearlong Inclusion Initiative, during which nearly 2,500 lawyers and staff—in every country in which Latham operates—took monthly actions to increase inclusion on their teams, in their offices, and at the firm as a whole. As part of the firm’s focus on allyship, in April, Latham stood as a staunch ally to Asian and Pacific Islander communities and signed the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Stand Against Hate statement denouncing anti-Asian attacks, xenophobia, and racism related to COVID-19; in June, Latham kicked off its More Than Words donation-matching campaign that raised $2 million for organizations committed to social justice; also in June, the firm launched two new speaker series to educate and equip colleagues to act as allies.
15. Liberty Mutual Insurance: Inclusion in Action
In brief: Liberty Mutual Insurance’s Diversity and Inclusion Team created Inclusion in Action, an eLearning video series that uses real-life scenarios to move employees from inclusion awareness to action and help them communicate effectively across differences. Based on nine skills for employee communication and collaboration, the interactive, self-paced video series features relatable workplace scenarios to teach employees inclusive communication skills that can cultivate better work relationships and produce positive outcomes between employees and with customers. The video series received a Telly Award and has been viewed by more than 35,000 Liberty Mutual employees, who rated the series 4.6 out of 5 stars. Two-thirds report that their managers use the video teachings. Now, the tools are becoming a part of the company’s organizational environment, including being integrated into its onboarding process.
16. New American Funding: New American Dream
In brief: New American Dream aims to help families realize that owning a home is an achievable goal. The committee that heads the initiative helps identify and remove roadblocks that can prevent homeownership, and New American Funding frequently hosts seminars to educate consumers about the mortgage process. As part of the initiative, the company continues to invest heavily in mortgage professionals who are equipped to work with Black borrowers. By working carefully and thoughtfully with Black borrowers, New American Funding is enabling the Black community to build wealth, stabilize communities, and create generational opportunities. While other lenders may overlook this important demographic, New American Funding is laser-focused on helping those in the Black community buy a home. With its focus on market outreach, New American Funding’s lending to Black customers is 45% above the industry average.
17. Tata Consultancy Services: Million Women Mentors
In brief: In 2015, STEMconnector and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) joined hands with like-minded partners to create Million Women Mentors (MWM), a global movement to address gender inequalities through the unique vision of women supporting women in education, the workplace, and beyond. The goal was to connect 1 million girls and young women with mentors from the industry, both men and women, and to spark the interest and confidence in women and girls to pursue STEM careers and leadership opportunities in business, the public sector, or wherever their diverse opinions and experiences can provide value and enrichment. Since its inception, MWM has resulted in 2.3 million pledges and more than 1.7 million completed mentorships—far exceeding the movement’s initial goal of 1 million pledges by 2020. Each completed mentorship represents at least 20 hours, meaning MWM has enabled over 34 million hours of mentorship and provided $5.1 billion in societal value to address gender, ethnic, social, and economic inequality.
18. Tenshey, Inc.: Tenshey’s Women Sponsorship Programs
In brief: In late 2019, Tenshey launched its first formal Women Sponsorship Program in which senior executive sponsors were paired with diverse female leaders to create opportunities for advancement, promotions, and visibility across the organization. The program is unique because it uses a formal, programmatic approach to cultivate a culture of sponsorship; a co-creation model to connect with company values; and a scalable tech platform to track data-driven insights and results. The program helps advance women past middle management through increased visibility, advocacy, and networking. As of late 2020, the promotion rate of women across all of the company’s Sponsorship Programs is 40%—significantly higher than the single digit figures typically seen in the technology industry. As a certified minority- and women-owned business (M/WBE), Tenshey has also made strides in focusing on women of color.
19. United Rentals Inc.: “Building a Better Future” Roundtable Series
In brief: The Building a Better Future roundtable series was developed to create a safe space for employees to share their thoughts and perspectives in response to the social justice movement that followed George Floyd’s tragic death on May 25, 2020. The company asked employees who were interested in a focused conversation around this topic to reach out. About 100 responses were received and the Building a Better Future roundtable series was created in July. Due to the pandemic, the 11 one-hour roundtable discussions were held via WebEx video. The series shed light on inconsistencies in U.S. culture that need to be improved upon, and created a louder, stronger, empathic, and compassionate voice for the team. Because of the positive feedback received, United Rentals has now invested in bringing a similar conversation to all 18,000+ employees throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.