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Press Release
Why a Lens on Diversity is one of the Most Critical Skills for Tomorrow’s Impact Professionals

This post was orginially published October 13, 2016 on Net Impact's Blog in advance of the 2016 Net Impact Conferece. By Cecily Joseph, VP Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer and Ruha Devanesan, Manager, Global Diversity and Inclusion, Symantec.

This post was orginially published October 13, 2016 on Net Impact's Blog in advance of the 2016 Net Impact Conferece.

By Cecily Joseph, VP Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer and Ruha Devanesan, Manager, Global Diversity and Inclusion, Symantec.

There is no denying that diversity is one of the most talked about issues in business at the moment. And for good reason. McKinsey research estimates that “$12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.” It also shows that shows that companies which are gender diverse are 15% more likely to outperform peers, those that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to outperform peers. And Gallup research shows that organizations with inclusive cultures have 27% higher profitability than those without.

Diversity helps us understand our customers better, respond to trends quicker, and stimulate innovation because of the diversity in thoughts and approaches. It also makes people feel more accepted and respected, creating a happier and healthier workplace. Diversity makes moral AND business sense.

Whose responsibility is it anyway? All of ours.

To create a future workforce that truly mirrors our available workforce, we must, as individuals within our organizations, recognize the role we play. Diversity is a lens we often apply, as CSR and social impact professionals, to the populations we target and how we spend our philanthropic dollars. We overlook, however, think about the diversity of our own internal teams, and of the partners we choose.

How can we as CSR and impact professionals integrate diversity into our business morals and every day work? How can we be provocative, and address controversial issues related to gender and equity head on? Below are a few key ways Symantec, and some other companies that inspire us, look to impact diversity across our functions, partners, customers, and communities:

Attracting, retaining, and advancing diverse employees. Through our diversity strategy rooted in the four key areas here, we have increased female representation on our board to 33 percent and are working towards our goal of having women in 30% of all leadership positions by 2020. Similarly, Walmart President’s Global Council of Women, comprised of 14 female leaders, uncovers opportunities for females and inspired Walmart Canada to create its Women Retail Program, that has resulted in females representing more than half of Walmart Canada’s managers, including its corporate office and field.

Ensuring an inclusive experience for our employees, customers and entire value chain.

Our five employee resource groups (ERGs) are key to building an inclusive culture. For example, due to the work of our Pride ERG, all-gender single-stall bathrooms are now available at Symantec headquarters and other main sites, and transgender inclusion guidelines are available to assist any employee transitioning during their Symantec tenure. AT&T, with a goal to hire 20,000 veterans by 2020, relies on its veterans ERG to mentor and support veterans transitioning into the company. And more than 10,000 employees participate in Target’s diversity focused business councils.

Additionally, this year we launched a new set of employee values and a leadership blueprint that call out diversity and inclusion as key tenets of how we work at Symantec. We are rolling out trainings for managers on the role unconscious bias plays in every day decisions, and trainings for all employees on how to build and sustain inclusion on teams.

Investing in your industry, customers, and entire value chain.Our signature Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3) program is addressing the growing cybersecurity workforce gap and provides underrepresented young adults and veterans the preparation and training to enter a long-term cybersecurity career.

Promoting equality on a national and global level.

At Symantec we partner with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and just in this past year have joined 180+ of the world’s most prominent companies including Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup Company, Starbucks, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo, to advocate for marriage equality, denounce the Bathroom Bill and support the Equality Act—protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination on a federal level in the United States.

Additionally, our #iamtech Medium publication, gives a voice to those underrepresented in tech through personal and thought provoking stories written by authors within and outside of Symantec.

Pushing boundaries

Improving diversity requires a long term, multifaceted approach and while substantial progress has been made, as professionals with a purpose we can still do more. In the same way companies have shifted practices due to climate change and human rights risks, we need drive and courage to tackle gender and racial equity issues. For example, in a current series with Triple Pundit, “Black Lives Matter and Beyond: Corporate Leaders Respond,” we discuss the ways companies can address controversial racial and diversity issues, as opposed to shying away from the discussion.

We must step up and own this issue, drive awareness, and help our businesses integrate diversity & inclusion into their everyday operations. Whether or not we are part of an ethnic community, the LGBT population, just entering the workforce or an industry veteran, inclusion should be a concern and priority for all of us looking to create tomorrow’s responsible AND successful businesses.

Net Impact's ongoing blog series features articles written by a few of the speakers Net Impact is looking forward to seeing at the 2016 Net Impact Conference. Cecily will be speaking on Saturday, November 5th at 11:00am during the Beyond Diversity: A Multi-Tiered Approach to Sustaining Inclusion in Business session and Ruha will be speaking Saturday, November 5th at 9am during Breaking Through Barriers for the Inclusive Employment.