A group of more than 150 CEOs from some of the world’s leading companies have signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. By signing on to this commitment, CEOs are pledging to take action to cultivate a workplace where diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected, where employees feel encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion, and where best known—and unsuccessful—actions can be shared across organizations via a unified hub, CEOAction.com, in an effort to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The concept was spurred by discussions amongst CEOs on race and diversity at The Executive Leadership Council’s annual CEO Summit in 2016, titled, “CEO Summit – A Different Conversation… Race.” The ELC is a member of the steering committee leading this effort and helped to obtain the support of CEOs in launching this unprecedented initiative.
“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are key drivers of business innovation and economic growth,” said Ronald C. Parker, President and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. “We must ensure that our workplaces keep pace with the constantly changing demographics of our country and open pathways for diverse experiences, perspectives and talent to drive growth opportunities and an even stronger set of leaders in business and beyond.”
A growing body of research reveals that stronger business outcomes directly correlate with diverse teams and inclusive workplace environments. In a 2016 report, researchers from seven universities concluded that while diversity increases innovation, promotes higher quality decisions, and enhances economic growth, the benefits of diversity are often not fully realized. This research is further supported by a new report from the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit think tank, which found that when employees can discuss the topic of race relations at work, they feel significantly more included and that their ideas are heard and recognized. Unfortunately, the report also found that more than two out of three employees are currently uncomfortable discussing race relations, and 29 percent feel it is never acceptable at their company to speak about experiences of race-based bias. Understanding this dynamic, and other dynamics related to diversity and inclusion, is why the signatories of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ have committed to take action, and in turn, improve corporate performance, drive growth, and enhance employee engagement.
“We are living in a world of complex divisions and tensions that can have a significant impact on our work environment. Yet, it’s often the case that when we walk into our workplace – where we spend the majority of our time – we don’t openly address these topics,” said Tim Ryan, U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC and chair of the steering committee for the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™. “CEOs across the country understand this isn’t a competitive issue, but a societal issue, and together we can raise the bar for the entire business community. By sharing best known actions and programs, we are helping to create a more inclusive environment that will encourage all of us to bring our greatest talents, perspectives, and experiences to the workplace.”
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is led by a steering committee of CEOs and leaders from Accenture, BCG, Deloitte US, The Executive Leadership Council, EY, General Atlantic, KPMG, New York Life, P&G and PwC. The coalition represents more than 50 industries, all 50 US States, and millions of employees globally. Each signatory has committed to taking the following steps to increase diversity and foster inclusion within their respective organizations and the larger business community:
- Continue to cultivate workplaces that support open dialogue on complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion: Companies will create and maintain environments, platforms, and forums where their employees feel comfortable reaching out to their colleagues to gain greater awareness of each other’s experiences and perspectives. By encouraging an ongoing dialogue and not tolerating any incongruence with these values of openness, companies are building trust, encouraging compassion and open-mindedness, and reinforcing their commitment to a culture of inclusivity.
- Implement and expand unconscious bias education : Companies commit to rolling out and/or expanding unconscious bias education within their companies in the form that best fits their specific culture and business. By helping employees recognize and minimize any potential blind spots, companies can better facilitate more open and honest conversations. Additionally, the initiative will be making non-proprietary unconscious bias education modules available to other organizations free of charge. This training will live on the unified hub, CEOAction.com.
- Share best known—and unsuccessful— actions : Companies commit to working together to evolve existing diversity strategies by sharing successes and challenges with one another. This will include creating accountability systems within their companies to track their progress and share regular updates with each other in order to catalog effective programs and measurement practices.
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is a step toward advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Starting today, anyone can visit CEOAction.com to learn more about this effort and watch for updates on future activity. Current signatories—and others who are interested—can use this website as a hub for information sharing, idea generation, and program development. In the fall, the signatories will convene for the first ever CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ Summit to assess initial progress, understand fundamental gaps, and determine the next phase of this work. Companies that currently are not implementing the elements of the pledge can use the hub and Summit as an opportunity to learn from others that are already doing so, while companies that are already implementing some or all of the actions can use this platform to drive greater engagement within their own programs, submit best known actions as well as mentor others on their journey.
For a list of the signatories that have signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ or to get involved, please visit CEOAction.com.