Geraldine White, Publicis Sapient's North America Diversity and Inclusion Lead, discusses the diversity and inclusion landscape within the United States.
In your opinion what is diversity and inclusion like within industries in the USA at the moment?
Diversity and inclusion varies greatly across the US and its industries. Demographics, socioeconomic elements, local and industry culture all play a significant role in what deficits and opportunities for true success exist across the US in D&I.
How has diversity and inclusion evolved over the years within the USA?
The need for diversity and inclusion practices and behaviors in the workplace has remained constant. What continues to shift are the definitions of difference we must adapt to in order to truly be inclusive. As society continues to evolve so do our needs to be responsive.
What changes/implementations have you seen being made to increase diversity and inclusion?
Advocacy for and implementation of HR policies and legislation continue to be introduced across many facets of D&I. As an example, less than a decade ago, benefits conversations were centered moreso around maternity and it being a benefit solely for women, but have evolved, more appropriately, to family/parental leave options that are far more inclusive.
What are the challenges within the USA when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
Given the diversity of our overall population, the US must be consistently and simultaneously mindful of all aspects of diversity. It is imperative that the US address everything from gender bias, to racial discrimination, mental health awareness, equity for the LGBTQ community, inclusion for those that may be differently abled and even diversity of thought. While some industries and leaders choose to focus on one aspect of diversity over others, there is no real success found in prioritizing the rights and equity of one group versus another.
What is fueling these challenges?
Everything from shifting demographics to the polarizing societal implications of our current political climate have an adverse impact on inclusion.
What do you feel needs to be done within the USA to increase diversity and inclusion?
Diversity only represents the variety of people, and inclusion brings some level of action, but it is the focus on equity that begins to drive accountability in the conversation. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not newly drafted. The notion of D&I is founded off of these basic human rights which must be universally protected.
Could you outline for me your company, and how you are ensuring you are increasing diversity and being inclusive when it comes to your employees?
Publicis Sapient is a digital transformation partner with 20,000 people and 53 offices around the globe. We firmly believe that diversity of perspective creates what cannot be achieved any other way. Access to opportunity, growth and advancement should also be equal. We strive to foster an environment where every team member can grow and thrive within the organization and consistently feel a sense of inclusion and belonging.
What are the challenges when trying to adopt a diverse and inclusive culture within a company?
The challenges are as varied as the workforce. Universally, though, true leadership accountability often proves to be the greatest challenge. Leaders must understand that revenue-related and D&I interests are not mutually exclusive. A greater focus on inclusion and equity for employees directly impacts performance. Greater revenue, in turn, allows for deeper investment in employee inclusion and retention.
Why do you feel it is important to be diverse and inclusive?
Frankly, the importance of fostering diversity and inclusion is no longer a matter of personal belief or opinion. There are far too many studies and research results that prove the talent and business benefits of D&I.
What implementations have you made within your company in order to make it more diverse and inclusive?
We maintain an overarching D&I strategy that also respects the varied needs of each geography. We strive to be honest with ourselves about where the greatest opportunities exist for change and how to effectively address them. We have a dedicated global D&I team that operates in consistent collaboration with leadership to enforce metrics-driven accountability and foster a culture of inclusion throughout the organization.
What do you feel is the best strategy for trying to adopt a more diverse and inclusive culture?
Any organization looking to truly foster inclusion must start with the willingness to honestly acknowledge their shortcomings, understand where their inclusion deficits exist and drive accountability across every aspect of their people and business to impart the change required.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to add in relation to diversity and inclusion?
Tolerance is different than acceptance is different than inclusion. Any organization who has leadership and managers operating from a mindset of tolerance will not see inclusion or equity adopted as practice.
For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief USA.