Companies are increasingly using metrics and diversity scorecards to measure progress in hiring, promoting and retaining women and diverse talent. But it’s more than just a numbers game, Ron Glover, vice president of global diversity and workforce programs at IBM, told an audience of senior diversity leaders and executives at a DiversityInc diversity event in Washington, D.C. He said companies get tripped up when they fail to connect accountability for diversity to the company’s goals and objectives.
“I suspect that many of you, when you decided to come to this presentation, assumed I was going to be talking about metrics and measurements and how we reward people or not reward people if they comply … but the truth of the matter is the whole notion of holding people accountable has to start with … getting them engaged in the work,” Glover said.
Glover said the notion of diversity, “how we think about it and how we deliver it,” has to be directly connected and deeply embedded in the organization’s business objectives.
“If you can deeply connect what you are doing in diversity—not because you are working a diversity mission but because you are working a mission to support the success of the business—then you can actually get accountability,” Glover said. “It will become a naturally occurring phenomenon in the business.”
Glover said diversity is not an option for 21st-century companies. A company’s workforce is a bridge to the global marketplace, and the global marketplace is diverse—geographically, culturally and ideologically. He said IBM’s diversity is a competitive advantage and consciously building diverse teams helps drive the best results for its clients.
More than half of IBM’s total employee population comes from outside the United States, with India now its second-largest employer. “Last quarter our revenue generated from our BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] markets exceeded the revenue being generated by our European operations for the first time in the company’s history,” he said. “This is not just a population game. It is a reality about where the revenue and the future of the company [are headed].”
In July 2008, senior leaders across IBM laid out a new course for the firm’s diversity programs, which Glover calls Diversity 3.0. The revamped mission includes ensuring employees have a deeper level of cultural intelligence and the ability to collaborate and lead across the globe. “We involve executives and employees in a partnership that enables them to define what the work in diversity is in ways that are not only interesting to them but are meaningful to the people in the organization and the business leaders as a key strategy for business success,” he said.
Glover said the way to get people in an organization to sign up and get this sense of accountability is by making them a part of defining the work.
“It’s a key ingredient to any successful effort,” he said. “Focus on the numbers last. Have the numbers reflect what people in the business, the employees in conjunction with leadership, really want to work on, and I think you will find this accountability issue takes care of itself.”