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Use Company Values to Develop & Attract Talent

Companies on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity all have deep-rooted values that are clearly communicated to their employees, customers and suppliers. The more than 300 chief diversity officers and senior executives who attended our March 2 and 3 learning events heard directly from four CEOs and corporate and non-profit leaders about the impact of shared values on diversity in the workplace and the marketplace. 

Here, based on sessions at an event facilitated by professors from The PhD Project, are the ideas, best practices and examples on the impact of shared values on diversity management from selected participants. 

Recruitment: Communicate Values

Jennifer Christie, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President, Executive Recruitment, American Express Co., No. 13 in the DiversityInc Top 50: During our recruitment process, we’re very clear about those kinds of core values about who we are, and we evaluate talent against that. We want to invite different types of work styles, so not everyone has to work the same way and be the same way. But that shared-values piece is always going to be there. Key to that is a customer-service orientation in the sense of being respectful, listening to others, making sure you are incorporating others’ points of views into how you operate. It’s a very relationship-based culture, so when we evaluate talent, we test for those kinds of things coming in the door.

Niloufar Molavi, U.S. Energy Leader, Market Managing Partner for Greater Houston and Former U.S. Chief Diversity Officer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, No. 3 in the DiversityInc Top 50: If I think of the accounting world, we have certain underrepresented “minorities,” such as Blacks. We know what the problem is, but what are we doing to solve it? We’re all fighting for the same five people, so we’ll get one. And we’re not going to be able to advance our mutual goals of inclusiveness and diversity in that matter.

One of the most significant challenges is resources and getting these individuals to actually be able to attend four-year universities that offer degrees in accounting and then be recruited. The second issue is just knowledge of the industry. Everyone knows what a lawyer and a doctor does. But when you think of accounting …

Best-practice example: Our Impact program is focused on helping those individuals get a four-year college degree through mentoring, and helping with their families, not just the student. We start with 11th grade. We have a PwC mentor assigned to them to help them understand what the process looks like, to get their families to understand why it’s so important to leave their child, to go away, that it’s OK, that they’ll come back. More importantly, how do we help them from a resource perspective, to apply for scholarships, grants, things of that nature? They’re interacting with our mentors. They ask: “What is PwC? What is it you guys do?”

Cindy Brinkley, Senior Vice President, Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer, AT&T, No. 4 in the DiversityInc Top 50: We’re all around, as we say, the relentless innovation—the relentless pursuit of innovation for human progress and also about service. For example, there’s our AT&T Aspire program. We’re basically redirecting our foundation spending to fund those programs for dropout prevention. But an important component of that is a job-shadow program where we’re bringing in 100,000 kids over four years to have our employees be engaged with them. It’s been an incredibly successful program and one that the employees are loving. We’re partnering with Junior Achievement.

Marilyn Priestley, Vice President, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., No. 21 in the DiversityInc Top 50: This is the fourth year we have done disability mentoring, where we bring in students with disabilities from around our community and our employees mentor them. If you can envision something, you can make it happen. For example, we’ve actually hired one autistic student from the group to work in our scientific labs. The students give up their spring breaks to come to Novartis. They get a whole week of shadowing executives. They are posed a marketing challenge and we give them a fictitious product to work on. They meet with the executive suite. They get to do ride-alongs some time.

Tracey Gray-Walker, Chief Diversity Officer, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co., No. 48 in the DiversityInc Top 50: A large part of our philanthropic giving is around scholarships. Prior to our last CEO, we did a lot of sporadic giving. There wasn’t a huge impact being made. When the last CEO came in, he basically said, “We’ve got a lot of money that we’re giving away, but we’re not having the amount of impact we could truly have in the communities. There are probably 50 $25,000 scholarships that are given and probably 100 $2,500 scholarships. And there’s another allotment that goes to employees’ family members. It showed we were trying to align with all of our values around being good citizens, creating opportunities for people to go to school.

For stories and webinars on diversity recruitment, go to www.BestPractices.DiversityInc.com/recruitment.

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