Race Relations Realized: Diversity And Inclusion In Corporate America

October 1, 2011
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In 2010, Sodexo moved its 'Better Tomorrow Plan' forward with a global effort to measure the environmental impacts and greening efforts at all of its clients' sites. Photo Credit: GeenBiz.com

Diversity and inclusion are two words often used in press releases and mission statements in corporate America, but some companies in the United States implement them in everyday operation. Although leaders in diversity for various reasons, these companies all add up to a better future for everyone.

Sodexo quite possibly has the most impressive diversity program in the country, but many may not recognize the name. Sodexo is a leader in the hospitality industry, providing food services, facilities maintenance services, sanitation services, housekeeping and landscaping services to schools, residential care, and government facilities as well as various programs in correctional facilities that enhance quality of life.

Sodexo has a variety of different diversity and inclusion programs throughout the company that targets both blue collar, and white-collar workers in every sector. Sodexo employs people in 80 different countries that represent 128 different nationalities, and focuses their efforts in four key areas: gender representation, generational opportunities, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities.

In 2010 Sodexo trained more than 40,000 of its employees on the principles of diversity, inclusion, and working in a multi-cultural environment. That same year, Sodexo created its 40-member Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board (DIAB) to help the company remain focused on its goals while setting new goals for the future. In addition, Sodexo created eight Employee Network Groups, which now has over 3,000 members who make diversity and inclusion a way of life at the company.

The Diversity Leadership Council, headed by CEO and President, George Chavel, is responsible for setting strategies that create the expectations and drive of the initiative. Even though the council determines the strategies, the company implements them at a grassroots level that permeates every level of the corporation.

“In a world that is becoming increasingly complex and interdependent, I am mindful of the important role Sodexo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion plays in our current and future business success,” says Chavel in the company’s Diversity and Inclusion report for 2010.

Because of its efforts to create a fair and diverse workplace, the company has won numerous awards including:

  • Recognized as one of the 40 best companies for diversity by Black Enterprise Magazine

  • Voted Best Place to Work for Hourly Workers by Working Mother Magazine

  • No. 2 in The 2011 Diversity Inc. Top 50 Companies List

PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a leader in the professional services industry and over the last decade, no other company has done more to advance its diversity initiatives than PwC, according to Diversity Inc. Because of this, PwC made the number three spot on Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

From its Mentor Moms initiative to its work/life policies, PwC continually links its diversity and inclusion efforts to its business goals. Quite often, these efforts focus on developing their Black, Latino, Asian, American Indian, and female talent.

"I believe that PwC will only enjoy success in the long-term if we recognize the critical role played by diversity in sustaining an innovative, productive, and loyal workforce,” says Dennis Nally, PwC Global Chairman.

PwC believes diversity enhances their perspective and ability to provide the highest level of service to their clients, with initiatives designed to attract and retain the best employees regardless of race, sex, religion, age, or any other demographical aspect.

In addition, PwC earned a number of other awards for their extensive efforts in diversity and inclusion:

  • Ranked in the Top 10 on five 2011 Diversity Inc. specialty lists: #1 - Recruitment & Retention; #2 - Executive Women; #3 - Global Diversity; #5 - Asian Americans; #6 - GLBT

  • Received a 100 percent rating with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Corporate Equality Index, 2006-2010

  • One of G.I. Job's Top 100 military friendly employers for 2011

PwC places high importance on mentoring, and they offer one of the most comprehensive mentoring programs of in the United States.

AT&T has been on Diversity Inc.’s list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for much of the last decade, and in the top 10 for the last three years. The reason is that the communications giant believes that diversity is important at every level of operations.

The company’s Chief Diversity Officer Forum meets quarterly to identify and monitor the progress of its diversity and inclusion initiatives, which helps identify the behaviors and actions necessary to create a positive work environment. AT&T believes these efforts not only lead to enhanced employee performance, but an increase in profits as well.

All management personnel are taught the value of inclusiveness with a company philosophy of “We better serve our customers when we build diversity into all we do,” and the management team implements the diversity and inclusion initiatives identified by the Chief Diversity Officer Forum.

According to AT&T Chairman and CEO, Randall Stephenson, “At AT&T, diversity at every level of our company is the key to our success. It helps spark innovation, elevate customer care, and strengthen connections to the communities we serve.” Part of the senior executive compensation is based on achieving diversity results, according to the company.

Of AT&T’s total workforce, 39 percent of employees are minorities, and 40 percent are women. Of the participants in AT&T’s Leadership Development Program, 41 percent are women, and nearly half are minorities.

AT&T earned a number of awards for their ongoing efforts in diversity and inclusion, including:

  • Ranked No. 4 in the 2010 Diversity Inc. Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Also on the Top 10 Companies specialty lists including No. 1 for Blacks and No. 6 for Latinos.

  • Named one of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity by Black Enterprise magazine in 2010

Although many American companies focus on diversity and inclusion, these are three of the top trendsetters in the nation where it is a natural way of doing business. Through their inclusion efforts and good stewardship policies, these businesses offer great job opportunities for minority employees, and hopefully, the goals they set forth will continue for generations to come.