(BPT) – Americans are becoming more committed to diversity and inclusion than ever before. They look to do business with companies that are truly diverse, too. Not only does this align with their values, it offers a distinct advantage: companies with more diverse teams are also top financial performers, according to McKinsey & Company research.
How do you know if you are buying from, or even working for, a truly diverse company and not one that only pretends to be? Here are some tips from Lorie Valle-Yañez, vice president and chief diversity officer at Massachusetts Mutual Life insurance Company (MassMutual) – a DiversityInc. 2015 Top 50 Company.
1. Look at leadership
Diversity is a strong value that is woven into a company’s culture. That culture is most often driven by the leaders at an organization. The best first step in determining if a company is truly diverse is to look at the makeup of those in leadership roles.
What is the makeup of the C-suite and board of directors? Are women and different ethnicities represented? In 2004, the majority of Fortune 100 companies had less than 30 percent Board diversity. By 2012 that number only slightly increased to 31 percent, according to the 2012 Alliance for Board Diversity Census.
2. Ask about initiatives
Diversity is an ongoing effort that requires dedication. Before working with or for a company, ask about diversity initiatives and how the company is structured to support a dedication to inclusion – both internally and externally – toward clients.
Is there a department and leader dedicated to serving the unique needs of diverse customers and employees? At MassMutual, the chief diversity officer supports cultural diversity for staff, suppliers and clients. Holistic efforts like these demonstrate a company’s ongoing commitment to diversity.
3. Investigate inclusion
A culture of diversity is an ongoing effort that involves all employees. When looking at the authenticity of a company, inclusion is an important value. Company leaders must embrace diversity of thought and unique viewpoints while helping employees to develop professionally and maintain high engagement at work.
One indication of inclusion at a company is the presence of Employee Resource Groups. ERGs are great for promoting inclusion among all employees. Groups are created for people with similar characteristics, such as gender and religion, and some are even interest-based, focusing on topics such as the environment or parenting. MassMutual has nine different ERGs that provide mentoring and volunteer opportunities to employees, and at the same time are involved in supporting the company’s business strategy.
4. Seek strategic partnerships
A company that values diversity and has a mind for the future will look for strategic partnerships that provide insight into niche markets and unique cultures. Find out if a company has memberships to diverse organizations that represent different markets and groups of people. Additionally, learn whether the company strives to work with others who are equally committed to diversity.
For more information about what makes a company authentically diverse and the DiversityInc. 2015 Top 50 Companies visit www.diversityinc.com.