Content Sponsored by Aflac
Great businesses thrive on diverse workforces, as women founders and senior executives know firsthand. Diversity starts with hiring practices, but extends to creating a culture of inclusion in which diverse backgrounds and viewpoints are embraced.
Diversity also requires addressing the unique, practical issues of women at every level in the workplace. A key piece is offering benefits packages that meet women's needs, freeing them from worry so they can focus their full attention on work.
Your company's policies, practices and benefits package are powerful tools for building an inclusive culture that attracts and retains the best talent. Few organizations have embraced this ethos with as much enthusiasm and focus as Aflac, and a glance at Aflac's leadership team quickly reveals an extraordinarily diverse and inclusive group.
I spoke with two key Aflac executives who shared their ideas on how to achieve true diversity.
Hiring for Diversity
Among the advantages of a diverse workforce are better business performance, increased customer satisfaction and improved employee satisfaction.
Audrey Boone Tillman, Aflac Incorporated's executive vice president and general counsel, holds one of the highest executive positions in the company. She points out that diversity is the cornerstone of Aflac's practices. "Not only is diversity ethical, but it also allows us to better understand and meet customers' needs" Tillman said.
As Tillman explained, companies that want to hire diversely must first assemble a diverse slate of candidates for open positions. She noted that hiring for diversity is also about breaking down barriers in fields such as science, technology and engineering.
"For instance, cybersecurity at Aflac reports up through me, and it is a very male-dominated field," Tillman said. "To ensure we are doing our part to contribute to diversity, we are collaborating with universities and industry organizations to encourage more women in STEM fields. At Aflac, diversity extends beyond our current hiring practices to ensuring we are broadening and diversifying the talent pool of the future."
Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Aflac senior vice president, chief environmental, social and governance (ESG) and communications officer, says "if you truly want diversity of thought, it is important to have people of diverse backgrounds, but it is also important to have people with different abilities around problem solving."
However, the lesson in diversity and inclusion that resonates most with Hernandez-Blades came from former BP CEO John Browne, who notes that without inclusion, you'll never have diversity - you'll just cycle through new hires as they will continuously leave.
Commitment at the Top
Commitment to diversity must start at the highest levels, with leaders setting the tone and showing the way. At Aflac, that would be Chairman and CEO Dan Amos. As Tillman observed, "Dan absolutely has the mindset that he wants our workforce and our leadership to reflect all of the customers we are serving."
Hernandez-Blades adds that she is proud of Aflac's diversity, equity and inclusion. She's "equally proud of the women in senior positions who earned the right to be there. It truly is about both - opportunity and talent."
Policies that Support Inclusion
An inclusive environment doesn't guarantee success, but it does provide the environment for talented people to flourish and prove themselves. "Talented individuals can come to Aflac and thrive with no barriers, particularly in terms of race or age, to hold them back," Tillman said.
Hernandez-Blades said equity and inclusion are "table stakes" in today's war for talent.
She noted that companies should establish support systems for new hires to make them feel welcome in the company and that mentoring can play a key part. "When I first started at Aflac, I was assigned a peer coach, someone who was with the company for 40 years," Hernandez-Blades said. She credits him with helping her navigate the company as a new hire.
Benefits to Meet Diverse Needs
Benefits packages are a powerful way for your company's commitment to diversity to touch employees every day. And today's workers are not just looking for health insurance, dental and vision coverage. Supplemental benefits are just as critical when it comes to financial security, quality of life and peace of mind.
Strong benefits position your company as a caring and great place to work. Consider offering options such as long-term disability, cancer insurance and critical illness insurance. And consider other perks such as paid leave time and flexible working hours as part of the total benefits package.
All of Aflac's benefits are available equally to men and women, but there are some benefits that women may value or use more than men. "For instance, we offer mammograms, child-care facilities, and paid parental leave," Tillman said. "But men can get mammograms, bring their children to our facilities and also get six weeks of paid leave as the co-parent."
In the end, diversity is about enabling employees and businesses alike to achieve their full potential. "When a woman knows her financial burdens from health situations are covered and she is free to bring her whole self to work ultimately, she will be able to better perform," Tillman said.
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