In today's world of infinite possibilities, the most agile and profitable organizations know that diversifying their employee base directly correlates to their bottom line. Understanding that our differences herald tremendous opportunities, large-cap companies are actively embracing a multicultural talent base making them more poised to 'win' as compared to other more homogenous corporations.

 

Diversity Breeds Innovation

Our ever-changing marketplace calls for continuous flexibility and adaptation. One of the earlier adopters in the fight for diverse talent was tech leader, Apple. Realizing that they'd only become more attractive to a heterogeneous talent pool, they published their diversity audit data for the world to review. Publicly committing to diverse outreach expansion and identifying strategic partnerships and programs that would aid in increasing workforce diversity also put them ahead. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, even went as far to post a direct message to the world openly sharing, "...At Apple, we rely on our employees' diverse backgrounds and perspectives to spark innovation. So we're hiring more inclusively, choosing partners who make diversity a priority, and creating opportunities for the next generation...We aspire to do more than just make our company as diverse as the talent available to hire. We must address the broad underlying challenges, offer new opportunities, and create a future generation of employees as diverse as the world around us..."

 

Walking the Walk

Malcom Forbes, one of America's preeminent entrepreneurs, recognized early on that 'diversity was the art of thinking independently together' and key among factors contributing to a company's success. Ranking number ten in this year's Fortune 500,  AT&T has exemplified this premise with their "#iCount Self-ID" campaign. Rallying diverse professionals including veterans, LGBT and people with disabilities to self-identify has allowed the telecom giant to better capture diversity data while representing their steadfast commitment.  Not stopping there, AT&T's 'four pillars of diversity focus' (employees, community, marketing and suppliers) further illustrates their dedication with their Aspire Mentoring Academy. This community-based program offers mentoring to at-risk, high school students within local communities and boasted over 1MM invested hours, surpassing their 4-year goal in record time. Easily witnessed by influencers, the effort has boded well for AT&T in both diverse engagement and attraction.

Talented and in-demand diverse candidates want to join companies that covet and recognize their differences as a benefit. A-list talent is drawn to those who are winning. And winners are what comprise Marriott International's almost twenty employee resource groups, appropriately named, Diversity and Inclusion Councils and Associate Networks. Achieving the 9th place on DiversityInc.com's 2016 Top 50 Companies For Diversity, Marriott's President and CEO, Arne Sorenson, meets personally with each of these groups annually. Globally, Marriott understands that being in business since 1927 isn't just a fluke and diversity and inclusion is a part of their company core values and embedded in their DNA. Diverse talent pools value transparency and will get on board for the longer-term when they partner with those that share the same goals and ideals. Proudly states Arne, "It's important to Marriott that diversity and inclusion are not viewed as separate work, but as a normal course of doing business. Since our founding nearly 90 years ago, we have valued our culture of inclusion and embraced differences. It's how we do business around the world every day and is essential to our success as a leading hospitality company with a growing global portfolio.

Starting at the college level is also a best practice that companies like Bank of America and Accenture raise the bar on annually. Partnering with 12 diverse colleges and universities including HSBCs, Hispanic-serving institutions and women's colleges are just the beginning for the global bank. Actively recruiting year-over-year and aligning with on-campus diversity groups has afforded the financial giant 'employer of choice' status with multicultural graduates.  Accenture also stays ahead of the curve by designating inclusion and diversity leads for both entry-level and MBA-recruiting. Well known on select campuses for their global career opportunities, they host annual events partnering with the organizations including National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Reaching Out MBA and Management Leadership for Tomorrow. Enthusiastically participating on campus not only projects the genuine image that companies care about diversity, but also helps them make their mark while fortifying their appeal early on.

 

Fostering Growth and Recognizing That Every Voice Matters

Companies winning the diverse war for talent can also be attributed to those that promote sustainable core values that drive positive actions, decisions and overall operations. Realizing that employee growth and advancement may be achieved with talent development and formal mentoring, especially cross-culturally, those doing so are flourishing. According to Great Place to Work, the global authority on building, sustaining and recognizing high-trust organizational cultures, investing in diverse talent inherently equates to lower attrition. Retention and engagement is more prevalent when employee-resource group are encouraged and supported allowing everyone to be heard, thus sending a message that 'they matter.' Another common factor for companies achieving more distinct talent pools are those firms that embrace flexible workplaces. Sending a clear message that employees are trusted and empowered to get their best work done, in a less traditional and/or rigid structure is extremely attractive, especially to millennials, women and people with disabilities. Today, companies also offering liberal benefits that include transgender health benefits and paid paternity leave are placing a definitive stake in the ground. To a diverse employee base and even potential hires, this illustrates authentic interest while sending the message that 'culture matters' - both highly appealing factors when making career decisions.

 

Bottom Line Benefits For All

As reported by McKinsey & Company in their 2015 Diversity Matters study, "companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians." It's no wonder then why this is now a huge initiative for the likes of Google, Facebook and other tech giants. Understanding that workforce diversity is directly linked to their customers which links straight to profitability is a simple equation. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) "Diversity initiatives can improve the quality of an organization's workforce and be the catalyst for a better ROI in human capital."

 

Want to win the war on diverse talent? Then build together and share the successes like other large-cap companies that are being proactive and genuine about creating scalable, inclusive and representative cultures.

 

The article was co-authored by Jessica Gatti, VP @GravityMediaLLC

 

 

 

 

 

Published on: Jun 17, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.