iversity is one of the most talked about business topics today. In popularity it ranks with modern business disciplines like quality, leadership and ethics. Albeit popular, it is also one of the most controversial and least understood. Rooted in social justice, civil rights, and more recently business strategy dogma, diversity has evolved into a rather amorphous field where the very word conjures up different meanings and assuredly a variety of emotional responses. While the definition of diversity varies, it is essentially the myriad of differences that are present in the workplace, marketplace, and community—from race, gender, generations, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, personality, and learning and thinking styles.
Proactive leaders understand that with 70% of the new entrants into the workforce being women and people of color; the total purchasing power for ethnic minorities at over $1.5 trillion and income for ethnic minorities increasing at more than twice the rate of that of white households, understanding diversity is imperative for business success. African American buying power is now at more than $761 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2010. Good leaders also understand that if the plethora of differences are not valued and managed well it can lead to reduced productivity, high attrition rates, loss of customers and law suits. However, conversely, when leveraged, diversity leads to inclusion which has been proven to enhance innovation, productivity and the bottom line. Studies show that those organizations that treat diversity as a business driver have significantly higher ROI’s than those who do not. One such study conducted in 2006 by Dr. Cedric Herring of the University of Illinois at Chicago examined diversity levels and business performance from about 250 U.S. companies and concluded that these firms outperformed comparison companies. Businesses with high diversity were more likely to report higher-than-average market share (72%) and profitability (72%), than those with low representation of diverse groups (54% and 52% respectively). These higher performing organizations no doubt had committed leadership that recognized the vital role diversity plays in business success. What does leadership commitment look like? In response to the persistent question, How do I help my CEO to GET IT? the author of this piece collaborated with Diversity Best Practices (a diversity trade organization) to write the book CEOs Who Get it: Diversity Leadership from the Heart and Soul. In this book twenty titans of industry told their stories with candor and introduction, Merrill Lynch, Sears Holdings and Major League Baseball were among those 20 companies whose CEOs were interviewed for the book. The message from each CEO was consistent. Diversity is absolutely essential for business success. They were unequivocal, unwavering, absolute and unambiguous in their insistence that diversity be front and center in every aspect of their business. They GET that the workplace, marketplace and the communities in which they do business are becom-

Percentage of minority entrants into the workforce:

passion.Together the leaders interviewed generate almost $1 trillion in revenue and employ more than 3 million people. They are some of the most powerful people in the world, shaping our future with breakthrough technologies, innovative retailing strategies and state-of-the-art investment models. In addition to those companies (their CEOs) quoted in this ing increasingly diverse and in order to attract and retain talent and to meet the needs of customers, diversity is no longer just the morally right thing to do, it is paramount to ensure business success. They GET that diversity and inclusion are not “add-ons” or “one-off” issues but ones that must be integrated as a part of the core business strategy.

By MARY-FRANCES WINTERS President & CEO The Winters Group Inc.




Richard Macedonia retired (early 2007) CEO of Sodexho, Inc., the world’s leading food and facilities management services company, at the beginning of his tenure freely admitted that he really didn’t get it (diversity) until about three years ago. “In the seat I sit in, I have to be the role model; I have to hold people accountable, but I also have to be vulnerable and I have to listen. And it was in the being vulnerable and in the listening that I had my ‘aha’ moment.”
When the Sodexho, Inc. African American Leadership Forum (AALF) started about five years ago, its founders asked Macedonia, chief operating officer at the time, to be the corporate sponsor, a role that he readily accepted. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned, and am still learning from this experience,” he said. Macedonia said that as he listened to the experiences of the 12-15 African American leaders on a regular basis, his worldview was totally transformed. It allowed him to understand how different their reality was from his own. Diversity is so important at Sodexho that Macedonia personally chairs the Diversity Leadership Council, which is made up of the company’s top 30 leaders. In their quarterly meetings, they not only review accomplishments

“Guided by the insights of diverse customers and employees, Kodak is transforming itself to serve new markets. Through diversity of thought and innovation, we will continue to deliver breakthrough products that delight customers. And our journey of diversity and inclusion--while never complete—will help us better serve those who have come to trust Kodak.” — Antonio Perez, CEO, Eastman Kodak
but experience in-depth diversity training each time. The goal is to continue to enhance leadership diversity competency. Wachovia’s CEO, G. Kennedy (Ken) Thompson demonstrates his diversity leadership internally and externally. He is as staunch and visible a supporter outside of the company as he is inside. Thompson accepts a number of speaking engagements within the business and education communities and he includes a diversity message in many of them. So serious is Ken Thompson that he chairs the Corporate Diversity Council (and tries to never miss a meeting), ties significant amounts of leaders’ bonuses to diversity results (up to 25 percent), and conducts a CEO diversity review with his 12 direct reports on an annual basis.

Total purchasing power for ethnic minorities is rising from 12.1% to almost 19% in 2002 and is trending to 24% in 2007.




By the very nature of Monster’s business, William Pastore, President and CEO since 2006, said diversity is a daily topic. Boasting the largest database of diverse resumes and a consulting arm that works with clients to develop diversity strategies and training programs, Monster Worldwide is immersed in the field. “It is a part of the way we do business. It does not have to be put on a pedestal,” he said. “It is just what we do.”
In addition to his focus on representation, he pays attention to creating an inclusive culture. Diversity content is provided as part of the company’s Managing People training program. As part of the diversity segment, a video clip of conductor Zubin Mehta initially shows a symphony practicing individually with no synchronization, but when it was time for the final performance harmony had been achieved. The point, Pastore said, is that the conductor is not responsible for playing each instrument, but rather getting each musician to play their best. “I see my job as that of a conductor, [helping] everybody at Monster Worldwide play at their best every day.” Carrying the symphony metaphor further he said that the more instruments play in harmony, the better the resulting sound and so it is with great decisions. “The more diversity you have the better the decisions will ultimately be,” he said. Thompson said he talks about diversity in his speeches because Wachovia is in the business of attracting talented people and he wants everyone to know that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from;

“There’s mounting evidence to document what we’ve always believed—that a diverse workforce is more creative, more dynamic, more open to new ideas, and more challenging of the staus quo.” —Anne Mulcahy, CEO, Xerox

if you produce, you will be rewarded at Wachovia. “We want talent,” he said. “ kinds of talent and I want the world All to know it.” He believes that his active external involvement enhances Wachovia’s internal efforts. “When employees see me strongly advocating for diversity in my speeches and my community activities, it sends a message that I am serious and that we are serious as a company.”

“Diversity is a holistic strategy for us that is aligned with our business priorities and integrated into all areas of our business.” —Terry J. Lundgren Chairman, President & CEO, Macy’s

Companies with high diversity were more likely to report higher-than-average market share (72%) and profitability (72%), than those with low representation of diverse groups (54% and 52% respectively).




Macedonia, CEO of Sodexho believes that the business case for Sodexho is clear-cut. “Roughly 50 percent of its new-hire population represents a minority or an immigrant to the United States and these percentages will only increase. “That means we are already an extremely diverse workforce. Our thrust, therefore, is to focus not so much on diversity as on inclusion, since we already are diverse.” Of equal importance are our 6,000-plus North American clients—corporations, schools, colleges, hospitals and heath care facilities who are also very diverse.”
Ken Thompson emphasized that his diversity ethos emanates from a personal conviction and not from “what it can do for us in the marketplace.” He believes that if you “get” diversity from your heart first and lead with your values, the business results will follow. And it definitely shows on the bottom line. Under Thompson’s leadership, Wachovia has enjoyed double-digit growth in revenues, net income and earnings per share. And its stock performance has consistently ranked near the top among the nation’s 20 largest banks since the Wachovia/First Union merger. Addressing the graduates of Queens University of Charlotte, N.C., Thompson offered “inclusion” among his five most valuable life lessons. On inclusion he said, “We live in a world full of differences. We have choices. We can create divisions and live in our separate circles of sameness and comfort but this choice will lead to divisiveness, conflict and inequality. Or we can choose to reach across our differences to create an inclusive community that is richer and stronger than any we have known before.”

“It is a part of the way we do business. It does not have to be put on a pedestal...It is just what we do.” — William Pastore, President & CEO, Monster




CEO’s who GET IT are on the front lines not the sidelines as champions for diversity. They do not delegate, relegate or abdicate the responsibility. They hold themselves personally accountable for results because of their fervent belief that diversity is not only good for business but it is necessary for their survival in the increasingly global and competitive business landscape.
Here are some steps you can take to get your CEO to GET IT:

Connect diversity and inclusion to the business: What keeps your leader awake at night? See it from their shoes. Know the business. Connect diversity and inclusion to the key business issues of the day such as innovation, customer acquisition, quality, globalization. If you can add value by showing how inclusion can reduce attrition, improve productivity, increase market share and otherwise positively impact business outcomes, your CEO will listen.


Educate in unconventional ways. All of the CEO’s recognized that continuous learning to become more culturally competent was critical to sustained progress in diversity. Traditional onetime, event based classroom training is not effective in building in-depth understanding and skills to leverage diversity. Experiential learning opportunities such as heading up the diversity council or serving as sponsor for an affinity group accelerated the learning curve for these leaders and in many instances led to their epiphany. Be persistent, patient and relevant. Everybody is not going to GET IT at the same time or in the same way. One of the featured CEO’s puts diversity and inclusion on the agenda of every meeting with his direct reports. The chief diversity officer (CDO) has to build relationships with all key influencers and keep diversity and inclusion and why it matters to them constantly in the forefront. In other words, the CDO has to be able to consistently show relevancy to what leaders are concerned with today which may be different from their issues of yesterday.


Acknowledge that diversity and inclusion is a complex, emotionally charged topic that is not easy to master. Leaders want and need to be savvy business people and sometimes feel inadequate with the topic of diversity and inclusion. Several CEO’s featured in the book indicated that they still do not feel that they completely GET IT and that the learning is a 24/7 job. You can help your CEO by supporting him/her in their learning journey with non-judgmental, concrete feedback.


Connect diversity and inclusion to something for which your CEO has a personal interest. Leaders have hearts too. What community or social issue is important to your CEO? What is your CEO’s personal background? Each of the CEO’s featured in the book had a diversity “story” that made an indelible mark on them and is now a key driver for their passion for diversity.



“We held our first global Innovation Day... What I can tell you is that our Innovation Day exemplified our philosophy:... That’s the power of diversity: when people come together, diversity and inclusion create innovation.” —Joseph M. Tucci, Chairman, President & CEO, EMC

The Winters Group is a 23-year old diversity and organization development firm serving clients such as Honda, Sodexho, Xcel Energy, and Hewitt Associates. CEO Mary Frances Winters was recently named a “Diversity Pioneer” by Profiles in Diversity Journal.



Diversity and inclusion drive transformation Four years ago, when we began our transformation, people asked how I proposed to create a new Kodak, and what our company would become. But, I knew that creating a new Kodak would depend on more than what I thought. Re-making Kodak for the 21st century would take the wisdom of diverse employees, customers, investors, partners and policy makers. By all measures we have succeeded. And, we could not have done it without a bedrock commitment to diversity and inclusion. Today’s Kodak will continue to help people use imaging to make their lives richer. We’ll touch billions of images and documents, and we’ll succeed in large part because of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We start with the needs of our customers, and then work our way back to satisfy those needs. We use diverse thinking. We ask employees to share their insights to help fuel our product development. We value everyone’s opinion. With diverse thinking, we get creativity, agility, innovation and faster decision-making that lead to products and services that offer real value for customers. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion enables us to tap the creativity and knowledge of diverse suppliers and employees. In addition, every senior executive at Kodak serves as a Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Champion, or as a Management Sponsor of an employee network. They also help ensure that workforce and supplier diversity are on everyone’s agenda. The makeup of our board of directors reflects our views on diversity and inclusion; 42 percent are people of color, and 25 percent are women. As Chairman of the Board of Kodak, and of Diversity Best Practices’ 2008 CEO Leadership Initiative, I know that diversity and inclusion is the path that ensures continued success of our transformation. I am committed to that path.

determines a company’s success.
Eastman Kodak Company is committed to becoming a truly diverse corporation. Embracing the ideals of diversity enables us to better meet the needs of our customers, employees, suppliers, and the communities in which we live and work. All of which ensures our continued success in the global marketplace.

© Eastman Kodak Company, 2007

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