The Role of The CEO In Promoting Diversity

A company’s diversity efforts must start at the top. As the company head, the CEO must play an active and visible role in enforcing diversity initiatives throughout the company.

Research by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found 12 of the 18 respondent companies indicated that their CEO had a reasonably significant role in personally championing diversity efforts by actively participating in the companies’ diversity efforts through:

  • Presenting an annual report to the company’s Diversity Committee and to the Board of Directors
  • Meeting with the Diversity Council quarterly to ensure that the company’s diversity strategy is on track

Seven companies, however, did not clearly articulate their goals and objectives on diversity initiatives. The remaining 11 companies either had a formal written diversity plan or informal policies, such as:

  • A diversity mission that includes “…[the] creat[ion] of an environment of fairness and equality that appeals to [our] employees…and that will make us a more competitive, successful company.”
  • A diversity strategic business plan that focuses on company profile improvement, managing and leveraging diversity, stakeholder relationships, and supplier diversity.
  • Evaluation Procedures and Incentives

Accountability is a significant factor in ensuring the success of any business diversity plan. A practical assessment and evaluation system is key to creating benchmarks to evaluate whether outcomes support organizational diversity targets. One-third of respondent companies either held management accountable for diversity initiatives or created a “diversity scorecard” or “report card” to monitor and assess diversity goals. These initiatives include:

  • Three companies held their management executives accountable for promoting diversity through an employee performance appraisal process whereby a manager’s level of diversity success is linked to his/her short-term compensation.
  • Three other companies created a “diversity scorecard” as a means to track and measure their diversity progress. At least one of these companies submits quarterly diversity scorecards to the CEO for his/her review.

Employment Diversity

Diversity training is viewed by most companies as a significant factor in maintaining a work environment that understands and celebrates differences among its employees. Over fifty percent of businesses either had management or employee diversity training programs in place, such as:

  • Mandatory diversity training for management and staff.
  • Diversity training that is integrated into the regular training programs. Diversity training topics include sexual harassment, gender biases, social and cultural perceptions, and disability understanding.

In addition to diversity training programs, nine of the respondent companies also had executive development programs, and 11 offered either internship or fellowship programs to students, including:

  • A Diversity Fellowship Program to develop high potential minority graduates on a management level track.
  • A six-month supervisory training program designed to develop leadership skills and to expose highly talented employees to management best practices.
  • Many businesses understand that their recruitment efforts are a very important aspect in achieving workplace diversity strategies. Over eighty percent of the respondent companies have some type of recruitment process in place.

Typically, companies:

  • Attend career and college fairs.
  • Offer Internet and Intranet job websites.
  • Post advertisements in minority trade journals.

Recruiting qualified minorities and women is undoubtedly a significant step to achieving workforce diversity. However, maintaining an active and supportive mentoring program is also key to retaining talented minorities and women in business.

Over fifty percent of respondent companies have established either formal or informal mentoring programs, such as participation in formal mentoring programs administered by organizations such as WICT and NAMIC.

Companies are beginning to understand that employee participation is a necessary part of developing and maintaining current diversity initiatives. As such, employee resource groups are important in fostering an environment of inclusion and providing a forum to articulate and convey the needs and concerns of employees.

All but five companies created either an affinity group consisting of employees or some type of executive diversity committee, such as:

  • A Diversity Team composed of business unit division managers, including the national presidents of seven employee affinity groups, called business resources groups, or “BRG.” The BRG’s represent African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, women, lesbian/gay league, employees with disabilities, and Native Americans.
  • An Interdivisional Diversity Council composed of human resources, public relations, and other diversity specialists.

Networking and building community partnerships is another important aspect of developing diversity initiatives. Only one-third of the companies have built partnerships with local and national organizations that share the same diversity goals, such as:

  • National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC).
  • Women in Cable and Television (WICT).
  • The Walter Kaitz Foundation.
  • And local chapters of the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Diverse Contracting Initiatives

Supplier diversity initiatives are an important component of career advancement opportunities in corporate America. By ensuring a diverse pool of vendors, this will provide companies with:

  • A new network of diverse potential applicants.
  • A pipeline for managerial and senior level staffing.
  • And leveraging the expertise of the suppliers’ networks to expand the company’s profile among new markets.

Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Chat is available on business days from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST. If you would like to speak with a counselor outside of these hours, please return to the home screen and press the call button. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please proceed to the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately.