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What Your Resource Groups Are NOT Telling You

Executive Diversity Councils: Jim Norman and Kathryn CollinsQ: I’ve been giving our current diversity advisory council some thought, and it prompted a question that I’d like to get your perspective on. Have you seen companies utilize their resource-group leaders as diversity advisory-council members? 

A: As resource groups have matured, they have literally earned a place at the table. That table, increasingly, is the executive diversity council. [Watch our diversity web seminar on resource groups for insights on the growing importance of these groups.]

We’ve heard from a number of companies that they are creating rotational spots on their executive diversity councils for one to three resource-group leaders. These spots usually last two years (although we’ve seen one- to four-year terms), and in some cases, the resource-group leaders are not voting members of the councils. When executive compensation is directly tied to company-wide diversity goals set by the council, the resource-group leaders usually are excluded from that. For more on resource-group leadership and selection, read DiversityInc’s exclusive resource-group research.

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Their purpose on the council is twofold; they give the council insights into the middle layers of the organization and specific insights from their own affinity groups, which are incredibly valuable in determining business-related strategies to reach more employees, customers, investors and suppliers from these groups. The council experience is also a major talent-development initiative for the resource-group leaders and exposes them to interactions with the senior-most executive in the company. Kathryn Collins, former vice president of associate recruitment and inclusion & diversity, jcpenney, explains more about resource-group structures in the video below.

We started asking the question of what percentage of The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity has resource-group rotational positions on their executive diversity councils in the 2011 survey. The answer was 34 percent. We expect to see that percentage increase this year. The percentage of CEOs of DiversityInc Top 50 companies who meet regularly with resource-group leaders (defined as specific small-group meetings, not speaking engagements to large audiences sponsored by resource groups) is 88 percent, twice what it was five years ago.

So you see specifically where the trend is and why. You can get more information on this from our diversity web seminar on diversity councils, featuring IBM and jcpenney, and our recent roundtable on diversity councils, featuring KPMG, American Express and Aetna.

For more on the benefits of resource groups, read How Kraft Increased Promotions of Women in Sales by 39%. In the roundtable, Kraft’s Vice President of Diversity Jim Norman explains how resource groups not only helped the company increase its retention of Black, Latino, Asian and women employees (as shown in the video below) but also promote more women into its management ranks.

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