Embracing Diversity: Brands That Foster a Diverse Workplace

by Jack Boutchard & Cascade Team, on May 13, 2021

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“The world is intertwined today, much more than it was when I was coming out of school. Because of that, you really need to have a deep understanding of cultures around the world. I have learned to not just appreciate this but celebrate it. The thing that makes the world interesting is our differences, not our similarities.”

These words come from Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, a company that pledged $100 million toward its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. Apple has also promised that it’s going to strive towards “diversity in tech”. 

In this era of technology and innovation, businesses are finally coming round to the idea of a diverse workplace, where people are hired for their skills and not the color of their skin. Diversity isn’t just a buzzword that companies can throw around to come off as 'politically correct' to customers. It’s something that requires radical action and change.

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In fact, embracing diversity has brought about a flurry of benefits to companies, as they’ve been able to improve their financial performance significantly. A diverse workplace also fosters a positive work culture where ideas are valued and recognition is given where it’s due. 

When people are valued and feel included, they perform better for your organization, and this leads to a more productive workforce. A Cloverpop study reveals that organizations having a diverse workplace are more efficient in making sound business decisions, and their productivity is improved by more than 50%. Moreover, workplace diversity also helps you attract top talent to your organization.

Workplace Diversity and Talent Correlation Infographic

As a business leader, you and your company are actually getting left behind if you’re not actively pursuing employee diversity. However, it isn’t too late. If you can identify why your company culture doesn’t facilitate the hiring of employees from diverse backgrounds, you can take the first step and work on planning and strategy execution to bring about positive change.

All the top companies in the world are taking the lead in implementing diverse employee cultures, and you can also follow their example and bring diversity to your workplace. Let’s have a look at some of the top inclusive companies and see how they’ve managed to bring about the change in their organizational culture.

7 Companies that are Embracing Diversity 

A report by McKinsey & Company, titled Diversity Matters, compares the impact of an inclusive workplace on the financial performance of the company. Its findings suggest that diverse companies, who focus on racial and ethnic diversity, are 35% more likely to perform better financially, as compared to organizations that have buried their head in the sand.

Companies that foster gender diversity in the workplace can do 15% better than their competitors when it comes to achieving higher profits than the standard industry median values.

Let’s explore how various diverse companies around the world practice culture management and build a different company culture.

1. Johnson & Johnson 

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is a globally recognized company widely known for producing consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The company has more than 130,000 employees worldwide and over the past few decades, it has managed to create an inclusive workplace by introducing a diversity strategy that focused on change across all levels.

J&J came up with a Global Diversity and Inclusion vision, which centered on maximizing the full potential of diversity and inclusion across the globe. This vision doesn’t only ensure employee diversity but also leads to higher company growth and competitive advantage.

Global Workforce by Gender Infographic

Source: J&J

According to Alex Gorsky, the CEO & Chairman of J&J, “Diversity & Inclusion at Johnson & Johnson is not just a commitment—it is the reality of how we live and work. The best innovations can only come if our people reflect the world’s full diversity of individuals, opinions, and approaches.”

Johnson & Johnson also founded the ‘Diversity University’ – a website that’s accessible to all employees and gives them the resources they need to believe in an inclusive workplace. A look at their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Impact Review shows that it has conducted unconscious bias training for almost 95% of its workforce, and more than 21,000 employees were included in their employee resource groups. 

How J&J Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

Although J&J spends more than a billion dollars on their diversity and inclusion program, they have also reaped great benefits in this regard. As a consequence, their employee retention went up by almost 27%, engagement by 43%, and customer loyalty stands at an astounding 58%, which is a strong measure of success for any company. J&J is repeatedly named as the Best Place to Work for working mothers and for disability inclusion.

What We Can Learn from J&J

A key takeaway from Johnson & Johnson’s diversity strategy is that when you’re trying to change things within your company, start from the top level. You can’t expect your subordinates to initiate change because they don’t have a say in the company’s affairs. By leading from the front, you can empower your workforce and work toward a diverse company culture that can last for decades, as can be seen in their case.

2. MasterCard

MasterCard is a financial services giant with a global workforce of almost 28,000. By embracing diversity, the company took up the fight against racism and ensured to provide equal prospects for all individuals, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, gender, faith, or other causes of bias. 

MasterCard’s diversity strategy is much more than just bringing together people with different backgrounds. Their company culture operates on the belief that diverse backgrounds and differences among the employees help bring them closer together and allow them to work toward better decision making, which ultimately leads to higher business growth. They also believe that diversity is the backbone of innovation, which can be seen through one of its unique projects, titled YoPros BRG

Short for Young Professionals Business Resource Group, YoPros BRG is a different approach to embracing diversity within the workplace. It focuses on a ‘Social Media Reverse Mentoring’ program, where younger employees are tasked with teaching older employees the ins and outs of social media platforms. This allowed the older professionals to become better acquainted with social media usage.

Apart from this, it also set up a Global Inclusion and Diversity Office, which focuses on a diverse workplace where employees feel valued and respected. When people are put first in the organization, their performance improves naturally, and they work with more passion and dedication, which greatly empowers the organization.

Inclusivity and diversity are ingrained into the work culture fabric at MasterCard, which can be seen by the Inclusive Growth section in its Corporate Sustainability Report 2019. It also aligns perfectly with the U.S. demographics and Federal-endorsed categories.

USA Workforce Diversity Graph

Source: MasterCard

How MasterCard Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

The success of MasterCard’s diversity and inclusion programs allowed them to reach out to a more diverse customer base, and it recorded a better financial performance as soon as the corresponding year. By implementing a diverse workforce, the company was able to record more insightful consumer data that allowed them to understand their customers’ needs better. Moreover, it managed to secure a spot among the 50 Best Companies for Diversity list compiled by DiversityInc.

What We Can Learn from MasterCard

One thing that we’ll steal from MasterCard’s global diversity and inclusivity programs is that simply speaking out against racism or discrimination isn’t enough – it should be backed by effort and dedication to making things right. Only through conscious efforts can you build an organization that is free from bias and discrimination.

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3. Accenture

Accenture is one of the world’s largest professional services and consulting companies, with a workforce of more than 400,000 employees, which made it all the more important for them to come up with a culture strategy that enables them to bring together people with differences.

Accenture believes in organizational diversity and asserts that discrimination isn’t acceptable, irrespective of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, faith, race, sexual orientation, or any other factor that makes people different.

The company fostered a diversity training program, which focused on diversity awareness, diversity management, and professional development. 

Our unwavering commitment to inclusion and diversity unleashes innovation and creates a culture where everyone feels they have equal opportunity,” says Julie Sweet, the CEO of Accenture.

Diversity awareness refers to explaining the benefits of a diverse workplace, and its impact on productivity, decision making, and financial performance. Through diversity management, executives were able to create dynamic and diverse teams that included people from all types of backgrounds. This move allowed teams to collaborate more efficiently and bring forth better results.

Accenture also set its sights on professional development, which empowered women, LGBTQ+, and culturally diverse workers to learn new skills that they could use for personal and professional growth.

Accenture also holds a worldwide company celebration on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, where it honors its employees and vows to help them through training, supportive technology, and flexible working arrangements.

How Accenture Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

The biggest benefit that Accenture received from these programs is that it got access to a wider database of exceptional talent that it could hire. Not only were changes made on the employee level, but people from underrepresented groups were also given the power to make executive decisions as well. This also brought about a massive increase in customer loyalty.

What We Can Learn from Accenture

Accenture has based its entire organizational culture around diversity and inclusivity, and not just for ethnically diverse groups. Its focus on diversity based on gender and sexual orientation has enabled many people to find a solid footing in their professional careers. It also tried to end the bias against employees who are different and stated that this is one major reason why they are unable to grow at the same level as other employees.

4. Coca-Cola

Who doesn’t know Coca-Cola? For most people, it’s one of the most popular beverages and for some, it’s a high-performing stock. The company is no less than a giant, with over 80,000 global employees and a worldwide presence.

Coca-Cola employs diversity, equity, and inclusion as its core values, and its policies and actions are focused on empowering largely marginalized employees and those discriminated against due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or disabilities. 

Diversity is more than just making policies. Rather, it requires a complete overhaul of the workplace to accept and accommodate people who are different, and this has far-reaching effects when it comes to company growth and profitability. In fact, a Boston Consulting Group study also showed that companies that bring more diversity in their executive and managerial levels experience higher innovation revenue.

Innovation and Diversity Correlation Infographic

Coca-Cola also introduced diversity education programs designed to educate all employees about the benefits and impact of working collaboratively. These programs included Diversity Training, a Diversity Library, and a Diversity Speaker Series as well. It provided their employees with the resources and tools they needed to understand what an inclusive workplace is, and what they can do to make their fellow employees feel more comfortable.

It also launched the “Coca-Cola Millennial Voices”, which featured a group of young workers who are responsible to work on employee retention among millennial employees. This movement also led to a new parental benefits policy, where new parents receive up to six weeks of paid leave.

How Coca-Cola Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

Coca-Cola’s Diversity and Inclusion movement made it possible for “people with differences” to have sustainable and promising jobs, and have a greater say in pivotal business matters. This also brought about increased professional growth for employees who were otherwise treated unjustly.

The Coca-Cola Company won one Diversity & Inclusion Award in 2018 and two in 2017. In fact, they are a consistent member of DiversityInc's annual top 50 companies for diversity and are among the top 10 for their commitment to gender equality. With diversity strategies applied by the company, the organization's environment has become more positive, and the employees' performance has significantly improved.

US Racial Equity Infographic

What We Can Learn from Coca-Cola

No diversity strategy can ever become successful unless your employees, on all levels, start to realize the value and potential of diversity in the workplace. Whether you’re a small startup or a large company, Coca-Cola leaves no stone unturned when it comes to promoting diversity as an organization.

5. Novartis 

Widely regarded as one of the leading pharmaceutical companies across the globe, Novartis has a strong workforce of 100,000+, and they strongly believe that diversity is the key to their success. In fact, they’ve also substituted the word “disability” with “diverseability”, because people with disabilities have a lot to contribute to the organization.

The company has included diversity into its HR management strategy, allowing its HR professionals to educate their employees on topics like unconscious prejudice, inclusive leadership, accommodating disabled people, and pay equity to help them tailor their recruitment strategy accordingly.

Apart from having a more experienced and diverse workforce, the company has also expanded the scope of its clinical trials and research to include underrepresented people and also find cures for illnesses that they go through.

How Novartis Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

Novartis’ diversity and inclusion programs enable them to understand patient needs and also come up with innovative methods and technologies to find cures and treatments for them. Its diversity and inclusion programs have far-reaching societal impacts that greatly benefit communities that are discriminated against. This is why Novartis has made it to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2021, which features more than 380 companies across 44 countries.

What We Can Learn from Novartis

Diversity and inclusivity must be deeply ingrained into the work culture. The passion and dedication of all employees must always be highly regarded, and their contributions must greatly be recognized, which encourages them to work harder. Like Novartis, your company should also value racial equity and justice for all people, regardless of their background or any differences.

6. Marriott International

Widely regarded for its hospitality and tourism services, Marriott International is one of the top hospitality companies in the world, with hotels and resorts across the globe. The group has more than 170,000 employees all over the world.

The hospitality and tourism industry thrives on diversity and inclusivity, and it welcomes all people regardless of their differences. The same principles are employed by Marriott towards its employees, and it has worked hard to ensure a diverse workplace that spreads across all of its hotels, resorts, and suites across various countries. Since 1927, Marriott has greatly valued the benefits of diversity in the workplace.

Apart from respecting and including ethnically diverse employees, Marriot International has also included a greater role for women into their work culture, which is why 10% of their supply chain vendors consist of women-owned businesses. Moreover, the company has also made strides by including LGBTQ employees into their workforce, making it one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality in 2021, according to the HRC’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index.

How Marriott International Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

The company has made it to the list of “World’s Best Multinational Workplaces” by Great Place to Work® and also ranked at No. 15 among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. It has also earned the respect and admiration of its customers, a huge chunk of which includes people from cultural, religious, or ethnic minorities, as well as the LGBTQ community. Needless to say, it has been riding the wave by recording a better financial performance every year.

Diversity and Inclusion Infographic

Source: HospitalityNet

What We Can Learn from Marriott International

By forming a diverse and inclusive workplace, Marriott International ensures the happiness and satisfaction of its employees on all levels. Moreover, their business goals are also aligned with their diversity strategy, and the company also strives to empower people with disabilities. The key takeaway from this is that employees work harder when they are happier and more comfortable in their work environment.

7. Ernst & Young (EY)

EY is a professional services company that enjoys a strong foothold across the world, and it boasts a diverse employee culture with more than 300,000 employees across all levels. The company holds a firm belief in the fact that it can perform better when people with different opinions, cultural backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences are given a voice. This allows the company to get ahead of its competitors and stay on top in the global business sphere.

EY has also introduced various diversity and inclusion programs, including the EY Launch. Under the program, freshmen, sophomores, and transfer students are educated about the benefits of accounting as a major. Moreover, they’re also made aware of joining professional services as a promising career option.

How EY Achieved Success from Its Diversity Initiatives

EY has held fast its diverse beliefs and perspectives and has incorporated them into its work culture, which helps them make better decisions, facilitate innovative measures, build a more agile workspace, and also combat discrimination and inequality. This is reflected in the EY Global Executive Diversity & Inclusion Statement.

EY was one of the first companies that included its partner-level executives in decision making and strategy execution regarding diversity recruitment. This has brought about a massive change in the organization, with more women being hired on top executive management positions. In fact, the female leadership increased by more than 20% following these measures.

What We Can Learn from EY

There’s no inclusivity if you don’t include everyone – how can you even use the term “everyone” when you’re excluding any particular group of people. EY has greatly empowered people from diverse backgrounds, which has significantly strengthened their diverse leadership and accelerated their business growth as well. If discrimination is a part of your company, then your policies and planning aren’t going to cut it.

How to Embrace Diversity in Your Company

When it comes to creating a diverse and all-inclusive workplace, here are some of the strategies that you may want to consider:

  • Implement diversity appreciation and training programs.
  • Acknowledge diverse viewpoints on company matters.
  • Align company mission and goals to be inclusive of people of all cultures and generations.
  • Act on fostering a safe environment within team discussions and decisions.
  • Adapt your style as needed to achieve your organizational goals.

Apart from strategy execution, you also have to ensure that the diversity programs you plan are put into effect, and there’s a need for top-level management executives to oversee their implementation and progress. 

At Cascade, we strongly advocate brands to embrace diversity in their work culture. Hopefully, this article will help you understand how you can empower your employees, implement culture management, and also amend your HR strategy to include a diverse range of people. Try our free HR Strategy Template to visualize your company's diversity!

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