Diversity does not have a shared meaning globally—different regions and cultures shape its definition by their own historical contexts. So how can companies successfully implement a global diversity strategy?
The key, said Jim Turley, chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, at a DiversityInc event, is to have multiple approaches. (Ernst & Young is No. 6 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.) He said it’s best to tailor your company’s initiatives by geography so diversity strategies remain central to local customs and beliefs. Once established, diversity leaders can then look to incrementally push the boundaries.
“The mental picture I have is of somebody pushing a round, heavy stone up a hill, and you have to lean into it and put your shoulder into it, and the real art is—and we all can picture this—if you lean too far, you will fall flat on your face and the stone rolls over you and you’re back at the bottom,” said Turley.
During his presentation, “The Growing Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility,” Turley spoke with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti. He recounted the story of a recent trip he took to Saudi Arabia, where contact between men and women is rigidly controlled.
“We have a number of women in our professional staff,” he said. “They have to be in a separate office, separate everything. But they were sitting in the same town-hall meeting, which, technically, was probably a violation of the law in Saudi, but again, you push.”
In this 33-minute video, Turley discusses more about Ernst & Young’s global diversity strategies and shares best practices that can help companies achieve a more equitable workforce despite cultural barriers. Click here to watch.
For more on global diversity, read DiversityInc’s exclusive Global Research report with comprehensive data, demographics and best practices from 17 countries.