Driving Diversity and Inclusion Throughout the Leadership Team

May 22, 2019 Ben DiPietro

LRN’s Marsha Ershaghi Hames recently joined Doug Freeman, chief executive of Virtcom Consulting, to talk about diversity and inclusion at the RMG iLeadership Summit.  

The gathering brought together leaders working on issues such as talent, culture and diversity. Global chief diversity and inclusion officers at organizations such as Citi Commercial Bank, Hilton, AARP, AIG, Cognizant, BNY Mellon and FINRA participated in last month’s event, hosted by MetLife.

Discussions focused on frameworks to grow and nurture inclusive leadership in organizations; how to build a culture agility for an evolving and changing global workforce; and how diversity and inclusion is driving innovation.  

Ershaghi Hames and Freeman explored how the recent wave of #MeToo headlines pushed corporate directors into the dialogue around responsibility for organizational culture.  

Ershaghi Hames cited a few studies that point to women comprising over half of the U.S. population, with over 70% leading purchasing decisions. Other studies indicated the insight of women in leadership is critical to discussions that affect corporate culture and profitability.

They talked about trends in the compliance and regulatory space, especially legislative changes in Europe driving new norms in board diversification, and a California law requiring publicly traded firms to place at least one woman on their board by the end this year. The California law is the first in the U.S., following similar measures in Europe, where the EU Commission pushed for a 40% board quota for women.

When the legislation passed in fall 2018, “one-fourth of California’s publicly traded companies still did not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive,” California State Sen. Hanna-Beth Jackson told The Wall Street Journal.   

Freeman and Ershaghi Hames then discussed the importance of measuring the right components to drive greater inclusivity and diversification of leadership, sharing trends of organizations that are demonstrating visible measurement and investment in board training.

“Corporations are starting to drive a measurable metric by embedding the values and principles of their code of ethics--such as evaluating inclusive leadership and diversification of the workforce--into corporate performance management objectives,” said Ershaghi Hames.

“The language and nomenclature used by leadership in organizations center the conversation around how we recruit, collaborate, innovate and retain greater inclusivity to build more competitive and sustainable organizations,” she said.

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