Denise Hummel

Denise Pirrotti Hummel, J.D.: Integrating Diversity and Inclusion on a Global Scale

By Andre LaFontant

Denise Pirrotti Hummel, J.D., Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Lead Inclusively, Inc., of San Diego, seeks to rectify the shortcomings of diversity and inclusion on a global scale. Lead Inclusively works with multinational companies. It uses an approach that not only identifies unconscious bias but also implements programs to foster smooth transitions toward an inclusion of diverse ideas.

We now know that just raising awareness in terms of unconscious bias is not enough and that we have to move toward helping people to understand what inclusive behaviors look like,” Hummel said.

Lead Inclusively depends on the proper application of its programs by, as Hummel puts it, “Tracing metrics that matter. We need to be evaluating the talent life-cycle and tracking the critical things that [Lead Inclusively] can impact. That includes knowing where the company consulted is losing people. … Are they not getting a diverse rate of candidates to interview? Are they losing them at the interview stage? Or are they losing them within the first 30 to 90 days of onboarding because of corporate culture?”

Her early work as an attorney within cultural integration led Hummel to make diversity and inclusion her life mission. Her commitment to the vision of a more holistic workplace met with early derision but never clouded her long-term view. “When I built my cross-cultural firm, people said the world isn’t ready for something like this. Well, four years later my firm is acquired by Ernst and Young,” she said. “The reason being that I could see where the world was going. … We are a fully integrated society in so many facets and unless we are able to be fully integrated through the top levels of leadership, [companies] are going to run into severe problems with their profit and loss goals.”

In the eyes of a visionary like Hummel, companies that choose to ignore statistics concerning the correlation between innovation within a company and a diverse talent pool are doomed to be mere afterthoughts. Hummel said good examples to look at are technology and pharmaceutical companies. “If you look at tech and pharma … it is ‘innovate or die,’ she said. “If fifty-six percent of the talent pool, which are women, are not being activated and that diverse ideation isn’t being acted upon, it’s just common sense that those companies will be left behind.”