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Why Resource Groups Are Business-Resource Groups

A networking discussion with American Express' diversity leader reveals how top companies are using resource groups to reach the marketplace and increase resource-group participation.

As the popularity of resource groups increases within organizations, leaders are challenged with how to effectively use these groups as resources for identifying and developing talent. How can resource groups be used to reach the marketplace, and what are the best ways to increase participation and find resource-group leaders and executive sponsors?


At DiversityInc's Resource Groups networking lunch during a DiversityInc event  in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Christie, chief diversity officer and vice president, executive recruitment, American Express (No. 14 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity and the Top Company for Resource Groups), facilitated a vibrant discussion between more than 50 chief diversity officers and diversity-management executives.

In this 1,989-word article, "Why Resource Groups Are Business Resource Groups," readers will receive valuable takeaways, including:

  • How resource groups help develop and showcase transferable skills that lead to promotions
  • Why resource groups encourage valuable cultural connections/insights with customers/clients
  • Why senior-leadership involvement and goals/metrics are critical to the success of resource groups

Insights are presented from leaders at Prudential Financial (No. 9); Tyson Foods; WellPoint (No. 34); Cummins (No. 18); The Standard; Mayo Clinic; CSX (No. 23); and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (No. 13).

Christie also shared some of the best practices used at American Express. "When you do have resource groups or diversity programs that are closely linked to the business, it's easier to make the business case for diversity," she said.

Read the full "Why Employee-Resource Groups Are Business Resource Groupsarticle at BestPractices.DiversityInc.com.

For more on our networking lunches, read "Networking & Sharing on Resource Groups, Diversity Councils, CEO Commitment, Talent Development, Mentoring."

The Conversation

Stop Talking About the Rooney Rule

Magical thinking will not move the needle on your diversity efforts, or your career, if your leadership is not accountable for results.

REUTERS

Over the weekend I received an email from a diversity consultant who wanted to "depoliticize" my column about Rex Tillerson and his speech on race and diversity management at the State Department.

Secretary Tillerson talked about using the "Rooney Rule" in the State Department. That "rule" is nothing more than magical thinking in most circumstances.

Background: Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, in 2003, made it a policy to interview one "minority" for every coaching position. It was a result of bad publicity following two prominent Black coaches being fired, despite winning records. Attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran later underscored the perception of discrimination by writing a study documenting how Black head coaches, despite winning a higher percentage of games, were less likely to be hired and more likely to be fired.

Because overt discrimination is costly in the public sphere, the Rooney Rule was instituted and fines were levied against two teams who did not interview a minority candidate for a coaching position.

But racism is persistent. Here are the results 16 years later: 70 percent of football players are Black, 20 percent of quarterbacks are Black, 10 percent of coaches are Black, 0 percent of owners are Black.

The very definition of antebellum plantations.

Are Black people too stupid to be coaches or quarterbacks? Charles Murray or the Freakonomics racists might say yes, but here's the truth — interviewing someone who was not as prepared as everyone else being interviewed is a set up for failure. Quietly, behind closed doors and closed minds, the results will be attributed to race and/or gender (in a corporate setting). But the truth is that preparing people for management positions is management's responsibility — and if management is all white men, what is the real color of failure?

If you don't give your people equitable opportunities to be assigned responsibilities that lead to leadership positions, don't have discipline in your mentoring, don't have an executive diversity council to oversee and hold accountable the process, you will produce the same results you currently have in most companies: white men in almost all positions of responsibility. That is the case at ExxonMobil, that is the case in the State Department, that is the case in most corporations, and under current leadership direction, it will never change. Never.

Regarding "depoliticizing" my initial column, you can't depoliticize this subject. Counting enslaved Black people as three-fifths of a human being is politicizing race (Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution). In the recent past, with a Black president, corporate diversity leaders could all try to nudge and wink at recalcitrant white executives in an effort to make progress without rocking the boat too much — but that hasn't worked. There has been very little progress for diversity outside of the DiversityInc Top 50.

Soft-pedaling this subject and expecting progress while attempting to not hurt any feelings by "depoliticizing" diversity is impossible with white supremacy, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates being tacitly (and at times bluntly) endorsed by the president.

Here's an example — a prominent CEO posted a diversity statement for a public website. From the CEO's statement: "The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance." Two sentences later the CEO wrote this: "We have worked with every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson."

Two comments:

1. "Tolerance" of hate groups or of those who do is acceptance and endorsement of hate groups. If you are going to "tolerate" me because of who or what I am, please know your tolerance is belittling and humiliating. I can tolerate lima beans in a stew. I do not have the imprimatur to "tolerate" another human being; nobody does.

2. Woodrow Wilson was the worst racist to ever occupy the White House. He was a horrible, horrible man. Either the CEO does not know American history or is sending a dog whistle to the White House, which is currently occupied by a white supremacist. By the way, the CEO is a member of a well-known sexist golf club.

Either way, it's wrong. And here is this CEO's diversity results: A leadership team (19 people) that is 5 percent non-white, 26 percent women.

Should you work for people like this? What does their leadership say about the future of this company? Their innovation? Their commitment to ethical behavior? Their stock is down for both one-year and five-year periods. Magical thinking does not increase stock prices, either.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

Video: MasterCard's Resource Groups Are Role Models for Engagement, Talent Development

MasterCard Worldwide shares its secrets with us in video interviews with top execs who are executive sponsors and resource group leaders.

How do you develop resource groups that further your business goals—recruitment, engagement, promotions, market innovation? MasterCard Worldwide shares its secrets for its resource groups with us in video interviews with top execs who are executive sponsors and resource-group leaders.

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Video: Re-Energizing Resource Groups and Leveraging Social Media

How can branding, sponsorship and market-facing activities refresh resource groups? How can groups communicate effectively online and via social media? Why do social-media networks matter?

How can branding, sponsorship and market-facing activities refresh resource groups? How can groups communicate effectively online and via social media? Why do social-media networks matter?

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Web Seminar: DiversityInc Top 50 Best Practices from Merck, EY

"The power of diversity is real," say two leaders of companies on the DiversityInc Top 50, who share their best practices on how to harness that power into supporting effective diversity management.

By Manuel McDonnell Smith

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How to Start a Resource Group

Ten steps to effectively start a resource group at your organization.

Photo by Shutterstock

By Barbara Frankel

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Multicultural Marketing Case Study: Wells Fargo's Asian Outreach

How are resource groups helping Wells Fargo reach the rapidly growing Asian American market?

Nancy Wong, Senior Vice President and Integrated Marketing Manager for the Asian Segment in Enterprise Marketing at Wells Fargo, is a first-generation Asian-American. She was born and raised in Hong Kong by her parents, who were small-business owners, and was one of three daughters who came to the United States as students.

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How Wells Fargo's Resource Group & CEO Reach LGBT Markets

Why has outreach to the LGBT community been a top priority for Wells Fargo?

Mark Ng is Vice President and LGBT Segment Manager of Wells Fargo's Strategy and Segments division. Ng recently sat down with DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti during a Q&A session to discuss Wells Fargo's resource groups and outreach to the LGBT community.

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Hilton: Which Employees Make the Best Resource-Group Leaders?

Here's how a 93-year-old company with no resource groups established five, with 20 chapters in four corporate centers, in less than a year.

Key to Hilton's success has been its ability to identify the right talent to lead resource groups, explains Michael Ford, Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Hilton Worldwide. During his DiversityInc Innovation Fest! presentation on resource groups, Ford reveals how a 93-year-old company with no resource groups established five, with 20 chapters in four corporate centers, in less than a year (with two more on the way).

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