Corporate_Diversity_IntelligenceCould your organization benefit from recent inventive approaches?

Today, many organizations are taking a proactive, often public approach to diversity in the workplace.

Some have used multiple channels to prominently display their inclusion policy to an external audience. Eighty percent of the companies that participated in Diversity Best Practices’ recent assessment, for example, said they’ve published their diversity statement in corporate materials and on their website.

Other companies have created far-reaching diversity initiatives to try to guarantee equality is a mainstay at their organization — and at the companies they do business with.

Organizations’ individual efforts may differ, but they share one common goal: Increased diversity in the workplace.

Here’s a brief look at some of the key diversity issues organizations have addressed in recent years — and several organizations that are leading the way with innovative solutions: 

• Gender equality — According to the not-for-profit World Economic Forum, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, overall worldwide gender equality gains since 2006 have been offset by reversals in a small number of countries.

The ninth edition of the forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, published in 2014, suggested gender parity in the workplace won’t happen until 2095 at the existing rate of improvement. Currently, Nordic nations are the most gender-equal societies in the world; Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden received the highest ranking.

A representative from the World Economic Forum attributed the decade’s worth of gender equality process to, in part, more women entering politics and the workforce.

Some organizations have launched promising programs to encourage and assist women and provide them with additional opportunities in the workforce — such as Chevron, which sponsors a Supplier Diversity/Small Business Program. The integrated energy company, in addition to employing a global workforce of approximately 64,500, works with small, minority- and women-owned businesses to help cultivate inventive, cost-effective methods of supplying goods and services.

The program is a win for both Chevron and its participants — promoting, as Chevron says, “an inclusive business environment for the benefit of the company and our suppliers.”

• Emphasis on previously underrepresented groups — The Society for Human Resource Management’s 2014 Future Insights report found that LGBT benefits and concerns are increasingly becoming more of a focus for many organizations.

Some are moving toward business models that provide domestic partner benefits and ensure non-discrimination policies encompass sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, according to the Profiles in Diversity Journal. (View the journal’s tips on creating an LGBT-inclusive workplace for additional guidance.)

Other companies are creating internal structures to support acceptance and inclusion. American Express, for example, created its Pride Network — one of more than a dozen employee diversity initiative networks at the company — which was named both a 2015 British LGBT Award nominee and one of U.K. gay equality organization Stonewall’s 2015 top 100 employers.

AmEx’s Pride Network has led a number of community diversity initiatives, including a mentoring program with LGBT students from Brighton Business School and a role model program that involves network members visiting local U.K. schools to talk about working for American Express.

• Generational diversity intelligence — As companies work to incorporate potentially five generations of workers, leaders, according to SHRM, will benefit from situational leadership and strong communication skills.

Some, such as Sodexo, a leading integrated facilities management services company in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, have launched strategies to attract and retain several generations of workers through an increased emphasis on alternative work arrangements — designed to emphasize flexibility and meet the needs of all major employee groups.

Sodexo also reworked its development curriculum to make sure it was relevant to all age groups; initiated a revised alumni, employee referral and college recruitment diversity initiative; and offered staff training on developing and managing a multigenerational workforce. The efforts helped the organization cut annual recruitment expenses by $300,000 and win a Workforce Management magazine Optimas Award.

As Generation Y enters the workforce in increasing numbers, it joins three other generations — which the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund defines as  Traditionalists, born between 1925 and 1945; baby boomers, born from 1946 to 1964 and Generation X, born from 1965 to 1980. 

The abundance of diverse age groups in the workforce stands to present numerous succession planning and other issues.

If your organization hasn’t yet addressed how changing staff components may affect operations, find out what age-related workplace diversity challenges may lie ahead — and how to handle them — in our recent blog post on the generational succession planning issue you may not have planned for.