Group of hands together
Executives find that company cultures that foster inclusivity and diversity promote innovation and motivation. — Getty Images

When it comes to establishing a business culture that fosters diversity, changing hearts and minds is a lofty goal, but instituting formal policies and practices go a lot further in actually ensuring it is effective.

Inclusive business practices are not just about doing good — they’re about doing well, and can be a competitive advantage, the top diversity executives from 3M, Fidelity and KPMG told CO—.

For businesses, an inclusive workplace and business strategy can catalyze innovation and uncork a reservoir of rich, nuanced ideas, while bringing multidimensional perspectives to an enterprise that can only come from diverse employee experiences, the executives said.

CO— asked Ann Anaya, 3M’s chief diversity officer; Amy Philbrook, head of diversity and inclusion for Fidelity; and KPMG’s chief diversity officer Michele Meyer-Ship about the most important part of their roles today, and how diversity initiatives drive a return on investment. Here’s what they said.

 Ann Anaya, 3M
Ann Anaya, chief diversity officer, 3M

Ann Anaya, 3M’s chief diversity officer: Diversity ‘is a competitive advantage’

On what’s critical to diversity leadership today

The most important part of my role is to advance our people and culture … [which] power our innovation and pilot our growth.

Diversity is a competitive advantage for my company. It spurs creativity and new ideas while helping us better serve our customers around the world. We also need to ensure that individuals of all experiences, backgrounds and abilities feel valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and strengths to 3M — in their day-to-day jobs, in their interactions with peers, and through the development, networking and collaboration opportunities we make available to them. That’s why inclusion is so important. Ultimately, it fosters innovation and collaboration, which are longstanding hallmarks of our culture and have greatly contributed to our success.

The return on investment from diversity initiatives

[Regarding] our diversity goals, currently, over 60% of our top 100 leaders are diverse — 30% are women and 45% meet other diversity dimensions such as gender, race, ethnicity, U.S. military, LGBT, disabled persons and nationality. We’ve established an ambitious goal to double the pipeline of diverse talent in management by 2025.

3M Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) are company-sponsored, employee-led groups that support leadership development and promote collaboration across cultures, lifestyles, abilities and genders. Open to all employees, our nine ERNs span 40 years of history and include 3M Pride, Women’s Leadership Forum, disAbility Awareness Network, Latino Resource Network and others.

Our ERNs are especially committed to advancing the communities in which 3M does business. For example, in the Twin Cities where 3M is headquartered, our nine ERNs are working together to address two issues: education equity for underrepresented and under-resourced students and homelessness for veterans, youth and families.

Last fall, 100 3M ERN volunteers visited nonprofits around the Twin Cities to enhance their understanding and awareness of education disparity and homelessness issues. And in December 2018, our ERNs awarded $10,000 equity grants to 14 local nonprofits focused on homelessness and education disparities.

3M’s Military Support Network (MSN), one of 3M’s ERNs, is also directly responsible for championing a new, expanded military-leave policy at 3M.

Under the new policy, which launched in 2018, we expanded paid leave benefits for employees in National Guard or reserve units. Coverage doubled from two weeks to four weeks each calendar year, with the potential to earn differential pay for the difference between 3M and military pay. This policy change reflects our commitment to veterans and the mission of the MSN, which provides active support and outreach to veterans and their families, including scholarships, professional development, military speaker series, networking opportunities and resources.

If you can help every person understand and commit to behavior changes when it comes to diversity and inclusion, you will begin to see real change at the enterprise-level.

Amy Philbrook, head of diversity and inclusion, Fidelity

Be inclusive

These top execs display how beneficial diversity and inclusivity initiatives are in the workplace. Curious how you can implement them in your business? Read more here.

 Amy Philbrook, Fidelity
Amy Philbrook, head of diversity and inclusion, Fidelity

Amy Philbrook, head of diversity and inclusion, Fidelity Investments: ‘You have to focus on behavior’

On what’s critical to diversity leadership today

The most important part of my role is to challenge a common misconception about diversity: that the best way to accomplish diversity in the workplace is to overhaul your culture by changing people’s minds and hearts. The truth is that it is very hard to change culture and even harder to change hearts. Instead, you have to focus on behavior.

If you can help every person understand and commit to behavior changes when it comes to diversity and inclusion, you will begin to see real change at the enterprise-level.

For example, at Fidelity, we’ve given our 6,000-plus managers simple, tangible ways to change their behavior when it comes to hiring, things like a mandate to have at least two candidates representing diverse backgrounds and skills in the final interview round. While it may seem simple, this mandate actually acts as a trigger for a series of behavior changes, starting with the hiring manager needing to first consider his/her job description — is there an opportunity to develop a more inclusive description that would attract the diversity we are seeking?

Then, the manager will need to recruit and source more candidates who represent diversity by looking at new or different talent pools than he/she has previously considered. Then, we’re finding that once these candidates are sourced, they are moving through the hiring process at the same rate as their peers. As a result of this and other behavior changes, the employees we hired in 2018 represented 13% more diversity than our current workforce, so we know it is working. I’ve found that in order for these changes to be successful, you must keep them simple, keep them real, refuse excuses and be relentless.

The return on investment from diversity initiatives

At Fidelity, we are seeing returns on our investments in diversity and inclusion. For example, we have a robust network of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), self-organized groups whose purpose is to enhance the understanding of diversity in the workplace, in the marketplace and in the community.

Take our Enable ERG, a volunteer-based group focused on contributing to a positive and inclusive work environment for employees of all abilities. In 2018, Enable ERG proactively explored the fact that, at Fidelity, we were not accustomed to thinking of disabilities as a dimension of our customers. But we knew that research points to the fact that disabilities impact many of our customers. For example, one in five Americans have a disability, so it stands to reason that of Fidelity’s 30 million-plus customers, about 20% have a disability.

[The group established] the Office of Customer Accessibility, a dedicated business unit to improve the customer experience for people with disabilities by ensuring accessibility is a design principle in everything we do.

[For example] in May, we hosted Accessibility Fest, an event where we harnessed the power of more than 600 Fidelity technologists, employees and senior leaders to focus on improving the accessibility of our website for our Workplace Investing customers. Fidelity’s Workplace business works with other employers and large companies to help them build benefits programs for their employees, some of whom are disabled.

When Fidelity is reviewing its digital content for accessibility they focus on a few disabilities. For example, for blindness and low vision, they want to ensure color contrast ratios are good and that screen reading software will work on Fidelity websites. For individuals who have mobility concerns, they’re ensuring keyboard tab order is logical and available for keyboard-only users. These are just a few examples Fidelity tries to solve for through its testing process.

During the event, several associates developed an accessibility curriculum which will provide comprehensive accessibility training for all new hire technologists beginning in September.

Since its inception, the Office of Customer Accessibility has also been instrumental in winning new business and retaining existing business. To help Fidelity win new business, OCA often plays a role in the process to bring new employers into our Workplace business, as more and more employers and consumers of all shapes and sizes are considering your track record on diversity and inclusion as more of a priority in their decision to do business with you.

 Michele Meyer-Ship, KPMG
Michele Meyer-Ship, chief diversity officer, KPMG

Michele Meyer-Shipp, chief diversity officer, KPMG: Diversity ‘sparks innovation’

On what’s critical to diversity leadership today

The most important part of my role is helping people understand the value of diversity and inclusion, and supporting them as they activate initiatives to advance diversity and inclusion. At the end of the day, I am trying to help my workplace build diverse work environments with people from all backgrounds where individuals are able to bring their authentic selves to work every day; share their ideas and passions in ways that enrich an organization’s culture; spark innovation; and add value to our clients and communities.

Diversity and inclusion are strategic priorities that involve setting clear goals, driving accountability measures, and monitoring feedback and progress. When diversity and inclusion is properly embedded into an organization’s operating model, businesses are able to attract and retain world class, talented professionals who help us drive transformation and innovation in an ever-changing global landscape.

The return on investment from diversity initiatives

KPMG recognizes that the work of advancing diversity and inclusion is a collaborative effort. We engage and partner with several external partners to support our efforts.

By way of a few examples, to support the development and growth of our female professionals, we have over 65 KPMG Network of Women (KNOW) chapters in our offices across the country that provide mentorship and support to their members. These efforts are making a difference. Since 2003, the percentage of female partners has increased significantly, rising 62%.

Through our KPMG Future Leaders Program, KPMG helps advance, develop, and empower young multicultural women through college scholarships, professional development programs and mentorships. Dr. Condoleezza Rice is our program’s ambassador, and together we’re dedicated to opening up new pathways for the next generation.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Check out this episode of CO— Blueprint to learn how and why it makes sense to create a more diverse and inclusive business model.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.