Diversity + Inclusion in Consulting

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Diversity & Inclusion: Best in Class

Three examples of corporate diversity and inclusion programs were examined: Cisco's Multiplier Effect, Progressive's Multi-Cultural Leadership Development Program, and Adobe's Supplier Diversity initiative.

Cisco: The Multiplier Effect

  • Cisco -- an IT, cybersecurity and networking multinational -- has been ranked as one of the most diverse tech companies operating in the US. Cisco's current executive leadership team is 62% diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity.
  • Their signature diversity program, launched in 2017, is called The Multiplier Effect, and it invites every leader to sponsor one diverse person to advance to the next level in their career. This applies to what they describe as "full–spectrum diversity"— inclusive of gender, generation, race, ethnicity, orientation, ability, nationality, religion, veteran status, background, culture, experience, strengths, and perspectives.
  • The role of the sponsor is to serve as a champion and advocate, leverage social capital, increase exposure and access to executives, and open doors for opportunity and visibility. They state that people with sponsors are 23% more likely to advance their careers than those without sponsors.

Progressive Insurance: Multi-Cultural Leadership Development Program

  • Progressive Insurance, a car and home insurance provider, came 3rd in 2019's Top 100 Best Workplace's for Diversity. In 2019, they filled more than 80% of jobs above the entry level by promoting in-house talent.
  • They have launched a Multi-Cultural Leadership Development Program to encourage intercultural competence while developing their employees. More than 60% of graduates of this 18-month program have been promoted into new positions.
  • Progressive’s African American Network (PAAN) helped to develop the first leadership development program designed to meet the needs of African American leaders. The curriculum included outside speakers, internal business case problems to solve, development of analytical skills and a capstone project, and it culminated with a presentation to executives and senior leaders. The program has since been expanded to involve Latinx and Asian-American steering groups.

Adobe: Supplier Diversity

  • Adobe was ranked number 8 for Workplace Diversity in 2019.
  • In 2018, they launched a Supplier Diversity program to ensure that they purchase more goods and services from businesses that are certified as majority owned and operated by women, minorities, veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities: disability-owned, veteran-disability owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned.
  • Employees are invited to actively seek out diverse suppliers and include them in their bidding processes. They are encouraged to work alongside the Procurement team to identify suppliers and add diversity clauses to their contracts. The outcomes of this project have not yet been reported as "the concept of supplier diversity is relatively new at Adobe."
  • The objective of this program is to expand economic opportunities for underrepresented groups. Adobe is also a founding member of Parity.org, which is committed to bringing gender and race/ethnicity parity to the highest levels of business.
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Diversity & Inclusion: Best Practices, Part 1

Best practices for successful corporate diversity and inclusion programs are to create a culture that is equally fantastic for all levels of employees, to create diversity policies that drive a feeling of unity, provide strong internal support for underrepresented and low-level employees. These practices have been exemplified by large U.S. corporations that have been recognized both externally and internally (by employees) as being best-in-class for their diversity and inclusion efforts. These corporations include Hilton Hotels, AbbVie, and Cadence. A deep dive of these findings have been included below.

Create a Culture that is Equally Fantastic for All Levels of Employees (Company Example: Hilton Hotels)

  • For many organizations, creating a culture where frontline employees feel as embraced and well-treated as executives appear to be a daunting task. However, doing so is important, as frontline employees are the ones who work most directly with customers and in order for these employees to do their best work, they need to feel their best as well.
  • Research has found that, generally speaking, the higher up an employee is in an organization, the better their work experience tends to be. The gap in positive experiences between upper-level and lower-level employees is among one of the largest differences found in the work place, according to researchers. These gaps are most prominent in the realms of fair treatment, communication, and purpose.
  • One example of this can be seen in surveys of differing levels of employees which has found that lower-level employees are much less likely that upper-level employees to feel that they are involved in decision-making that affects their job and are much less likely to feel that their bosses genuinely care about their suggestions and ideas.
  • Hilton Hotels has taken this practice to bat by devising a strategy that treats every member of its staff just as well as the guests who stay in its hotels. In doing so, the company focuses on three main initiatives/philosophies: purpose from the top, designing programs 'for all', and developing leadership in a way that focuses on the 'for all' principle.
  • "Hilton expresses the purpose that comes from the top through the people programs it invests in. From the spaces team members work in, to travel benefits, parental leave, and personal and professional development, Hilton goes the extra mile to make sure these investments benefit all its people. Together, these programs signal the company’s belief that everyone matters and inspire leaders at every level to treat team members accordingly."
  • It appears that Hilton's efforts have paid off, as 93% of company employees surveyed said they consistently have a positive experience while working at the company, while only 2% say they have a consistently negative experience. In 2018, Hilton Hotels was ranked as the #1 best place to work for diversity, with 96% of its employees stating that it's a great place to work; 97% saying they felt welcome when they joined the company; and 95% saying management is honest and ethical in their business practices.
  • A full deep dive of Hilton's diversity efforts centering on employee culture can be found in this 2018 report.

Create Diversity Policies that Drive a Feeling of Unity (Company Example: AbbVie)

  • Jane Kennedy Greene, CEO of Kenco Group, published a blog speaking on the topic of creating unity in a diverse workplace. She states that in order for diverse individuals to effectively build working relationships, "people must start by relating similarities, not differences."
  • Marie Gervais, PhD is CEO of Shift Management, a leadership services company. Gervais claims that "unity in diversity is a universal law" and compares this philosophy to the human body. Gervais states: "There is no one organ or body part that is not essential to the smooth functioning and unified action of the whole. The heart does not say to the fingernail 'I'm more important than you are and I only work with other hearts.' Imagine a body that would try to either war against itself internally, or would try to replicate some parts and eliminate others. That would certainly result in the death or sever impairment of that body."
  • In 2019, " AbbVie introduced its Principles to unite as one company across the globe. To develop the Principles, AbbVie employees from all over the world provided insights on what made them proud to work for AbbVie, what they believe AbbVie stands for, and what principles they'd like to see. [The principles] were then created and refined based on input and support from the executive leadership team and AbbVie employees around the globe." In working with employees to create these principles, the company's diversity leaders held focus groups, HR meetings, employee meetings, and worked with the company's culture ambassador teams.
  • According to Julie Osborne, VP of equality, diversity and inclusion at AbbVie, these principles serve as a set of values and beliefs that are intended to unite employees as one company. Osborne further notes that diversity and inclusion were intentionally embraced by these principles.
  • The company also includes 'diversity of ideas' in their definition of diversity. According to Osborne, "These can include the diversity of approaches or how you do certain things. The goal: getting the best out of people while letting them be as authentic as they want to be."
  • It appears that AbbVie's efforts have paid off: In 2019, AbbVie was ranked among the top 20 best places to work for diversity, with 88% of its employees stating that it's a great place to work; 93% saying they felt welcome when they joined the company; 96% saying they feel good about the way the company contributes to the community; 95% saying employees are treating fairly regardless of sexual orientation; and 82% saying they are treated as full team members regardless of their position. Additionally, 80% of the company's workforce has been working for the company for more than 2-years.
  • A full deep dive of AbbVie's diversity efforts can be found in this 2019 report.

Provide Strong Internal Support for Underrepresented and Low-Level Employees (Company Example: Cadence)

  • According to insights published by Aperian Global, many companies today are striving to provide support for underrepresented demographics within their organizations. Aperian notes that many of the biggest corporations in the world have been implementing such initiatives. However, despite a significant increase in these efforts over the last decade, many of these companies are still not well diversified in terms of numbers (for example, the percentage of a certain demographic within a company may be far off compared to the representation of that demographic within society), which Aperian says represents a challenge for employees from underrepresented groups.
  • A likely reason for this lingering lack of diversification is ineffective diversity programs. One key area of this ineffectiveness is that many diversity efforts being employed by companies today are not addressing the needs of all the various groups within their organization.
  • Furthermore, Aperian states that "real inclusion must also take into account the perspectives of employees around the world and the generation of younger workers that is increasingly prominent in the global workplace. The challenges that women experience at headquarters, for instance, might be quite different from those experienced by women in other countries." Likewise, the challenges that women experience at different hierarchical levels within a company may be vastly different.
  • According to a report on the company's culture, Cadence, a fintech company, has "strong internal support for female and junior employees with additional opportunities for mentorship, networking, and focused development, [and] they are helping build the future pipeline in tech with partners like Girls Who Code and the Anita Borg institute."
  • Part of this support comes in the form of allowing all employees to take time off as needed. A survey of Cadence's staff found that 93% reported that they are allowed to take time off work when necessary. This practice is an important part of fostering a positive culture within the company, as research has found that "a hidden barrier to innovation is 'everyday fear'--the perception that employees cannot take time off suddenly to attend to family emergencies or handle other pressing personal issues."
  • In 2016, Cadence was rated as the #3 best place to work for diversity, with 87% of employees saying it's a great place to work; 94% saying they felt welcome when they joined the company; 91% saying management is honest and ethical in its business practices; and 93% saying they feel good about the ways the company contributes in the community. In 2018, Cadence was ranked as one of the World's 25 Best Workplaces due to the company's global culture.
  • A full deep dive of Cadence's diversity efforts can be found in this 2019 report.

Research Strategy

To conduct this research, our team first set out to identify large U.S. companies that have been recognized for having successful and effective D&I programs. We then studied the programs of these companies to identify the key practices they were implementing which have lead them to this success. Next, we conducted research to find insights published by business owners and industry experts which further explain the logic behind these practices along with their benefits.

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Diversity & Inclusion: Best Practices, Part 2

Best practices for successful corporate diversity and inclusion programs are building an empathetic workplace and creating employee resource groups. Companies like Microsoft are excelling in the field of diversity and inclusion by embracing diversity in leadership.

Building an Empathetic Workplace

  • To promote the real sense of diversity and inclusion, companies need to focus on building an empathetic workplace, having leaders who are genuinely empathetic towards people from diverse cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, generations, and people with different backgrounds, skills, and abilities. Building an empathetic environment, which has diverse leaders, employees who feel welcomed in the organization, and comfortable in sharing their opinion, is the best practice because it allows the diversity and inclusion initiatives of an organization to be more productive.
  • According to Reworked, to build an empathetic workplace, organizations need to ensure that "people who hold positions of authority over employees include diverse people; when employees see people like themselves in leadership, they have a greater sense of belonging as well as a sense that what they say will be taken seriously." The aim of making employees feel welcomed in an organization cannot sustain if the organization does not have empathetic leaders.
  • In a research conducted by Business Solver, "nearly 75% of employees said that more diversity in leadership makes organizations more empathetic, and 87% said that diversity & inclusion (D&I) programs demonstrate empathy." Additionally, findings from the 2019 State of Workplace Empathy Study state that "9 in 10 employees are more likely to stay with an empathetic employer."
  • Lack of empathy fosters disconnection and lack of engagement in employees. The key to solving these problems is having an empathetic work environment, where employees have a voice and leaders who genuinely value the diversity of their employees.
  • Johnson and Johnson has always shown empathy in all its diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, #BelongatJNJ campaign, and the You Belong Campaign. The #BelongatJNJ campaign was a classic example of making the voices of diverse employees heard; the campaign enabled J&J employees to share their stories and their experiences on a public platform. The campaign also included discussion events at J&J, where employees and senior executives discussed their experiences about diversity and inclusion at the workplace.
  • The You Belong campaign was created for the staff members who are not truly confident and to make these employees feel more comfortable at the workplace. Having an internal campaign like "You Belong" is an amazing way to make employees feel more comfortable and welcomed and to celebrate and cherish diversity. DiversityQ regarded Johnson and Johnson's You Belong campaign as a benchmark in diversity and inclusion communication.
  • A survey conducted by Comparably ranked the top companies with the best CEOs for Diversity. According to this survey, the CEOs of Microsoft, RingCentral, and Google are the best CEOs for diversity and inclusion; the survey highlighted that these three companies have diverse leaders, Microsoft's CEO Sataya Nadella is an Indian born, RingCentral's CEO is from Ukraine and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google is also an Indian Born. These American multinationals are the perfect example of why senior leadership positions should be given to diverse people.
  • By employing diverse leaders, Microsoft is leading the diversity and inclusion race; racial and ethnic minorities hold nearly 32% of executive roles in the US at Microsoft. And "88% of employees at Microsoft reported positive sentiments when it came to factors like authenticity, belonging, and a belief in Microsoft's commitment to diversity."

Employee Resource Groups

  • "According to Bloomberg, corporations with dedicated employee resource groups have reduced turnover rates, increased performance on goals, and increased productivity."
  • Apple has several employee-led groups for developing a sense of belonging in their employees; these groups include "Accessibility@Apple, Amigos@Apple, Black@Apple, Pride@Apple, and Women@Apple, and a range of faith-based groups." Apple's diversity workforce covers people of different sexual orientation, religious affiliation, ethnicities, differently-abled people, and people from different age groups. Apple has won the Best CEOs for Diversity award in 2019 and Best CEOs award for Women in 2019. "Apple ranks in the top 20% of other companies in the US with 10,000+ Employees for Diversity Score."
  • Nielsen is ranked No. 16 on the 2019 DiversityIncTop 50 ranking and was also ranked by Disability:IN as the Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. The company has an active employee resource group program which has more than 7000 members. The program covers nine employee resource groups, including Asian Affinity Link, Abled and Disabled Employees Partnering Together, Hispanic Organization of Leaders in Action, Multinational Organization Supporting an Inclusive Culture, Nielsen Generation, LGBT & Allies, Sustainable Active Black Leadership and Empowerment, Support and Employee Resource for Veterans, and Women in Nielsen.
  • Creating employee resource groups is the best practice because it allows employees to connect with each other, and it also enables companies to provide dedicated support for different diverse groups in their workforce. According to an article published by Forbes, "many companies today have multiple employee resource groups, including EY, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Co., and KPMG."
  • Employee resource groups also influence the company process like recruitment and career development, and so it is important to align the ERGs with the company's objectives. Pinterest's Diversity and Inclusion strategy also suggests that ERGs should be aligned with the company objectives, for instance, some employee resource groups at the company, such as the Women@Pinterest, Latin employee group Todos Pincluidos, and Black employee group blackboard@Pinterest "have each curated in-product experiences for Pinners (customers) to find culture-specific content during heritage months."

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Diversity & Inclusion: Key Benefits

A successful diversity and inclusion program in the workplace makes companies more likely to be profitable and fuel innovation, which is key to a company's success in the new decade.

Increased Likelihood of Profitability

  • According to McKinsey's 2019 analysis of more than 1,000 large companies from 15 countries, including the US, workplace diversity (gender, ethnic, and cultural) increases the likelihood of profitability. The analysis suggests that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to outperform those in the fourth quartile in terms of profitability.
  • Companies with over 30% of women executives were more likely to outperform those with 10-30% of women executives, who were in turn more likely to outperform those with fewer or no female executives. The most gender-diverse companies were 48% more likely to outperform the least gender-diverse.
  • Similarly, ethnic and cultural diversity in the top quartile were 36% more likely to outperform those in the fourth quartile in terms of profitability.

Higher Innovation Revenue

  • Workplace diversity fosters innovation and is key to a company's success in the new decade. This is because bringing together people with multifaceted backgrounds and experiences helps broaden the range of ideas and options available to the company, thereby accelerating growth.
  • According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation, especially for tech companies, start-ups, and innovation-dependent industries.
  • The study found that while companies with below-average diversity scores reported an average of 26% innovation revenue, those with above-average diversity scores reported an average of 45% innovation revenue.

Research Strategy

To identify some of the key benefits that mid-large sized companies (with 500+ employees) see as a result of having a successful diversity and inclusion program, we searched for any studies on diversity and inclusion that involved mid-large sized companies. While many articles discuss the benefits of workplace diversity and inclusion, we couldn't find any that were specific to mid-large sized companies. As a proxy, we have used studies that focused on large companies to show the benefits of having a successful diversity and inclusion program.

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Diversity & Inclusion: Consultancies

Two of the leading business consulting firms that offer assistance around diversity and inclusion are PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Boston Consulting Group. Details about what the two consultancies offer around diversity and inclusion have been provided below.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

  • PwC’s diversity and inclusion team includes a differentiated combination of human resource, talent, technology, business, industry, legal, and analytics expertise. The company works with its clients to find solutions that help their diversity efforts.
  • PwC helps organizations to have an inclusive and diverse culture by offering data-driven analysis and a qualitative assessment of processes and policies to identify their needs and requirements. This approach gives PwC the required insights to design a diversity and inclusion action plan comprised of a program of initiatives with key performance indicators and short and long-term goals.
  • PwC helps organizations address racial inequalities by finding long-lasting solutions. To do so, the company focuses on behaviors as opposed to beliefs. According to PwC, empathy is among the critical leadership behaviors required for dealing with racial inequalities.
  • PwC listens to clients when it comes to inclusive solution and helps them champion empathy, curiosity, and humility as foundational values.
  • To ensure that leaders network and find their authentic voice, PwC creates meaningful experiences that examine the blind spots that leaders have and challenge their assumptions. These experiences also help leaders to understand their identity, build trust by offering and receiving actionable feedback, cultivate a sense of curiosity, and develop vulnerability.
  • PwC was chosen as an example because it is one of the leading business consulting firms in the United States according to Vault, Consulting, and Business Insider.

Boston Consulting Group

  • BCG offers its expertise to organizations that are looking to drive measurable change when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In addition, the company provides diversity and inclusion insights to show leaders the changes they need to make and where to invest to improve diversity and inclusion.
  • BCG partners with organizations to provide proven strategies that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The company conducts data-driven analysis to develop strategies and guide organizations on ways they can make a meaningful difference.
  • The services that BCG offers to organizations when it comes to diversity and inclusion include implementing working models that are flexible, tracking the progress of inclusion and diversity, creating sponsorship programs, and fostering an inclusive culture.
  • BCG collaborates with companies from different industries around the world to develop the most effective ways of improving diversity and inclusion. This includes collecting internal data about the state of diversity organizations, leveraging big data and analytics, and developing a forward trajectory and analytical baseline.
  • The company also uses its Diversity and Inclusion Assessment for Leadership (DIAL) tool to help leaders develop a gap analysis, customized starting point, and an action plan based on their needs. “It also enables benchmarking against industry and geography, leveraging its existing database of more than 25,000 responses and more than 8 million data points from across the globe.”
  • BCG was selected as an example because it is one of the leading business consulting firms in the United States according to Vault, Consulting, and Forbes.
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Diversity & Inclusion Consulting: Market Size

After exhaustive research, we have established that there are no free accessible reports revealing the market size for D&I consulting or the overall D&I industry in the U.S. Even though there are industry reports that have this information, they are protected by paywalls. Based on our research, we were only able to obtain the market sizes for diversity and inclusion spending training by companies in the U.S., the global market size for D&I tech solutions, and the decrease in D&I spend by companies. These findings have been summarized below.

The Global Market Size for D&I Tech Solutions

  • The market size for D&I tech solutions was $100 million as of 2018. It is projected as still growing.

Companies' Spending on Diversity and Inclusion Training

Increase in Spending

  • A report from Insight into Diversity revealed that there was an increase in D&I spending by companies of 33.7% for a five-year period.

Research Strategy

We began our research by searching through market reports about diversity and inclusion consulting and the overall diversity and inclusion industry in the U.S. These reports are from credible sources such as McKinsey, Stats and Reports, MarketsandMarkets, MarketWatch, and others. However, even though these industry reports have a more current sizing of the market, the information therein is protected by Paywalls. MarketWatch and McKinsey revealed that U.S. companies spend 8% on diversity and inclusion training. Industry reports from Deloitte, Ibis World, Global News Wire, and PR News Wire did not have any information about D&I consulting or the overall D&I industry's market size in the U.S.
Searching through media publication and press releases like the Business Insider, XE, Fortune, Daily Mail, among others was also not fruitful. Most of the publications and articles only focus on the major market details, current news, key players, and trends for D&I consulting and the overall industry and not on the market size or other data and information related to market sizing.
We later decided to look for information about the key players within the D&I consulting segment and the overall D&I consulting industry to
triangulate information using the 80-20 rule. Even though we found the key companies, we were unable to uncover data and information to help us calculate the market size. Hence, this strategy also failed.
An approach to triangulate the information was also impossible because of insufficient statistics to help with calculating the market size. We tried to look for the global market size, the North American market size or percentage (market share), CAGR, and market sizes for diversity and inclusion separately. Once again, all the useful data was paywalled and it was impossible to perform any calculations for the request. Hence, this strategy also failed.
Based on our research, we were, however, able to obtain some information about the market sizes for diversity and inclusion spending training by companies in the U.S., the global market size for D&I tech solutions, and the decrease in D&I spend by companies through Insight into Diversity, PR News Wire, MarketWatch, McKinsey, CIO, and others. The data regarding D&I consulting and the overall D&I industry in the U.S. is publicly unavailable because it is a niche segment of the consulting industry. Most of the available information is focused on diversity and inclusion within companies and not on the consultants or consultancies. We have summarized our key findings above.
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Diversity & Inclusion: Pain Points

Some of the biggest pain points around engagement of outside vendors that company leaders experience when deploying a diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy include providers that deploy an ineffective D&I approach, D&I programs that are expensive and time-consuming, and consultants being called in too late in the game.

Ineffective D&I Approach

D&I Services are Costly and Time-Consuming

  • Companies also find investments in D&I consulting and training services as costly.
  • Diversity services can take around $25,000 to $450,000 annually based on the requirements of the company.
  • Employers also need to take into consideration the time away from work that their employees need to allot to attend D&I training sessions.
  • The engagement with D&I service providers can last from three months to several years.
  • Big companies with existing diversity teams may only require refreshers. However, businesses that are just building their diversity programs may need a complete review of their vision, employee feedback, D&I incidents, and other diversity-related matters.
  • Consultants will also need to have a conversation with the employees to discuss their daily work D&I experiences, audit handbooks, and mediate in mentoring and conflict handling sessions.
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, some companies are also finding it challenging to keep their budgets for D&I-related third-party consulting services. Most of them are anticipating recession to hit their firms. With this, several businesses have been trimming some expenses that they consider as secondary such as D&I programs.
  • Companies are also advised to avail of technologies from third-party providers that can help address D&I concerns in the organization and save on costs.
  • An example of a technology that is being developed in this space is the Loom platform. The platform can help in evaluating a company's culture to determine D&I hot spots.
  • Another technology platform that is being offered to the companies is the Textio software. The software can go through a massive number of documents to check for language bias. This can help companies address hidden biases that can only be revealed by data.
  • Even with all these expenses, having D&I training sessions and programs in place is seen by most companies as worth it if ever they need to show that they are committed to an inclusive culture in the event of future D&I-related lawsuits.

Consultants Were Called In Too Late

Research Strategy

To find some of the biggest pain points around engagement of outside vendors that company leaders experience when deploying a diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy, we looked through various media publications, consulting industry sources, business reports, and other similar sites. Based on this approach, we found reports from companies and from D&I consulting firms on some of the pain points that they have encountered when implementing their D&I programs that involve third-party vendors. We considered the biggest pain points as those mentioned in several reports or those having the most impact such as bad publicity or lawsuits.
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Diversity & Inclusion: Trends

Investment in Employee Resource Groups and deploying artificial intelligence (AI) to remove unconscious bias are among the key trends in corporate diversity and inclusion space. We have provided below a detailed overview of these trends, along with an example of a company that is at the forefront of each trend.

Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Trends

Investment in Employee Resource Groups

  • The development and the evolution of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) is one of the biggest trends in the current corporate diversity and inclusion space. ERGs and affinity groups provide an avenue for the underrepresented employees at the workplace to gather regularly to build community and impact the workplace culture.
  • The popularity of ERGs has grown among corporate employees in recent years. This is corroborated by the fact that between 2011 and 2017, the employee participation in resource groups of DiversityInc’s Top 10 companies has increased from 29.1% to 38.1%. Additionally, employee participation in the ERGs of DiversityInc’s Top 50 companies has escalated from 23.4% in 2011 to 35.5% in 2017.
  • As per SHRM, more than 70 percent of the organizations rely on their ERGs to build a workforce that reflects the demographics of their customer base.
  • One key factor that has led to the evolution of the ERG trend is that corporates have started to look upon ERGs as "incubators for innovation, a way for remote workers to connect, and to foster understanding among people of different faiths." Additionally, companies look upon ERGs as a way to enhance employee experience and a tool to foster innovative thinking, make the workplace environment friendlier, and break into new markets.
  • As an evolving trend in the ERG space, companies have started to make a shift from ERGS to BRGs (Business Resource Groups), where they seek to leverage the deep expertise and knowledge of the ERG members to advance strategic business priorities such as market research, product testing, etc.
  • In addendum, some companies have started to allow ERGs to take on the work of recruitment, employee engagement, and corporate culture building and also involve them in leading monthly corporate programs and organizing recruiting events.
  • The use of AI-enabled management platforms specific to ERGs is another key development in the ERG space. Some companies such as Espresa have launched an ERG dashboard that allows the employers to view all ERGs existing at the workspace at one glance and review the programs that these ERGs are involved in. The platform also allows employers to garner employee feedback about the groups.
  • Eli Lilly and Company, an American pharmaceutical company, is an example of a company that has a comprehensive D&I strategy that includes employee resource groups. It was ranked among the top organizations in DiversityInc’s 2019 list of Top Companies for Employee Resource Groups. The company actively leverages its ERG to monitor and address workplace diversity challenges in real-time and constantly improve the workplace equality experience for all its employees.

Deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Remove Unconscious Bias and Promote D&I

  • The use of AI at workplaces to get rid of unconscious bias from various HR processes such as hiring, recruitment, L&D, etc., is among the growing trends in the corporate diversity & inclusion space.
  • The companies have begun to realize that ignoring implicit bias can lead to serious consequences on the employee experience, whether in hiring/recruitment, employee feedback, performance reviews, or development. As per the findings of the Center for Talent Innovation, employees at large companies who perceive bias are three times as likely to resign within one year and five times as likely to speak negatively about their company on social media. Hence, this has led to a growing trend among organizations to leverage AI to get rid of human bias from various HR processes.
  • Organizations use AI programs to combine data points and create algorithms to source, screen, and filter the best candidates from large quantities of data. These "data points are looked at objectively, completely removing the biases, assumptions, and oversight that humans are naturally hindered by."
  • Additionally, AI for human resource systems can also be programmed to automatically ignore a candidate’s demographic information, such as gender, race, and age. It can also disregard other details that may indicate racial or socioeconomic status, such as school names and zip codes of a candidate. Hence, organizations can leverage such AI programs to make their hiring process more diverse and inclusive. For example, using Textio, a text-editing AI tool, software company Atlassian was able to increase the percentage of females among its new recruits from about 10% to 57%.
  • The use of AI and machine learning also allows companies to make their L&D programs more diverse & inclusive and identify high-potential employees with the skills and qualifications that the company needs. Certain high potential employees may exhibit qualities such as introversion that can lead them to be overlooked in traditional methods of assessment. This has also been corroborated by various studies that have found that the employees ranked highest by the machine learning software aren’t usually the ones on the promotion track as per the traditional assessment methods.
  • Companies can also use AI technology to help identify biases in their past hiring decisions. Deep neural networks, which are a cluster of algorithms that emulate the human ability to spot patterns in data, have been found to be extremely effective in uncovering evidence of hidden preferences. AI tools, such as Mya, which are based on this technique, can help companies analyze their hiring records and see if they have favored candidates with, for example, light skin.
  • Microsoft has been at the forefront of this trend and has developed a framework "for assembling inclusive design teams, which can be more effective for considering the needs and sensitivities of myriad types of employees/customers, including those with physical disabilities."
  • SAP is another example of a company that is at the forefront of this trend. The company has been using various analytical tools to remove users’ bias when analyzing data in payroll, recruitment, and talent management across its various global offices. It also "uses intelligent analytics to measure, monitor, and drive activities to ensure accountability and routinely conducts gender bias scans to identify and recommend language replacements in order to remove unconscious job bias from job descriptions."

Research Strategy

To identify some trends in the corporate diversity & inclusion space we scoured through the various industry publications from Deloitte, McKinsey, SHRM, Accenture, Recruiting Daily, etc., media articles from Forbes, WSJ, Bloomberg, Live Mint, and Reuters, among others, and various HR and D&I blogs such as Affirmity, HR Capitalist, HBR, HR Magazine, and Workology, among others. We have selected the trends that were highlighted and repeated across the various sources and have included an example of a company that is at the forefront of each trend. We have tried to include the relevant trends around ERGs and diversity, equity, and inclusion as available.
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Diversity & Inclusion: Overview

Diversity in the workplace is the acceptance of co-workers coming from different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, inclusion is achieving a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and respectfully, has equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success, while equity is giving all members of a diverse team equal opportunities to succeed and grow while understanding the existence of an unequal starting point.


  • Traditionally, diversity in the workplace has been defined by many as the acceptance of co-workers coming from different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations. However, according to the HR Technologists, millennials and Gen Zers in the workforce have brought a new definition that includes embracing coworkers with differences in education, skill sets, personalities, knowledge bases, and experiences.
  • A company is said to have achieved diversity in the workplace when it has employees with a varying range of characteristics and experiences. In the beginning, the word diversity was used to address racial or ethnic diversity, but it has been broadened to include characteristics like physical abilities and disabilities, political beliefs, socioeconomic background, geographic orientation, language, culture, military service, and many more.
  • According to Give A Grad A Go, diversity in the workplace is more than just hiring diverse employees, but also ensuring that they participate equally in the work environment and are equally compensated.
  • Diversity in the workplace is about appreciating the differences employees have in context with the workplace to ensure that their individual differences are valued.
  • Culture Amp, however, argues that an individual is not diverse, but teams and organizations are. This means that diversity is a relational concept/practice, and it appears in the composition of teams and companies.


  • While inclusion is often lumped together with diversity, it is a distinct concept of its own. According to The Society for Human Resource Management, inclusion in the workplace is defined as "the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success."
  • When team members or employees are included, it means that their contributions are valued regardless of their diversity dimension, and they get the opportunity to do their best and develop their careers.
  • According to Rita Mitjans, chief diversity and social responsibility officer at ADP, "Diversity is the 'what; inclusion is the 'how.'" This means that diversity focuses on the varied composition of a company's workforce, while inclusion is primarily about measuring the workplace culture that allows diversity to thrive.
  • As per Mitjans, most organizations focus on improving the diversity of their workforce, but if their workforce culture does not embrace different diversities, they will not be able to retain diversity.
  • Workforce inclusion can be measured by if employees feel they belong and their voices, opinions, perspectives, and contributions matter to the organization.
  • According to Verna Myers, a notable Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion educator, "diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance."


  • Equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they each mean different things. According to Culture Amp, when people are treated equally, they are treated the same but when they are treated equitably, they focus on individualistic needs.
  • A workplace with diverse employees has differences and the employees need support in different ways. According to Culture Amp, "equity asks us to acknowledge that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities."
  • According to the General Assembly, equity makes sure that everyone has access to the same opportunities that recognizes that barriers and advantages exist and that most people don't have the same starting point.
  • Equity in the workplace begins by acknowledging the existence of an unequal starting point and committing to address the imbalance.
  • Workplace equity is "what happens when all members of a diverse population of employees have equal opportunities and support to succeed and grow."

From Part 03