How to measure the practical results of inclusion and diversity policies in companies
By Estela Cangerana
Talking about diversity and inclusion in companies goes far beyond establishing a more inclusive recruitment process. It is a path that includes constant efforts to make the corporate environment fairer and more welcoming to differences, aiming at the retention and development of all professionals, regardless of gender, race, origin, sexual orientation, presence or absence of disabilities. But this engagement, experts say, needs to come with impact metrics. Gains in reputation should also enter this account.
“There are many studies that already prove the effects of diversity and inclusion, but the question is how we can bring these differences into our context,” says Ana Laura Andrade, Talent Strategy leader at Mercer Consulting. The company, along with Edge Certifier, has devised a strategy to accelerate gender equality in organizations. “Companies have failed in their own pipeline. The data show us that the distortions are so great that if we don’t have discipline, focus and determination, we can’t bring about change”, she adds.
“One example of this, according to her, is the data on the exit rate of corporate executive level professionals, which is higher among women. “We need to see why the environment is leading to this,” she says. Andrade’s remarks were given during a morning of debates on “How diversity management contributes to a high performance culture”, promoted by the CCBC Diversity Commission, on November 5th.
“The event brought together the heads of diversity programs from various companies and experts to exchange experiences and discuss new avenues for the industry. On the agenda were also strategies to enhance the initiatives and measure their results. “Our goal is not only to spread the culture of diversity and inclusion, but also to help companies walk this path through best practice and results,” says lawyer Esther Nunes, former president of CCBC and coordinator of the Commission alongside the Consul and head of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Brazil, Elise Racicot. “We believe diversity is not a challenge but a sign of strength. It makes both governments and society more efficient and fair,” adds Racicot.
“Among companies that have made strides in seeking a more diverse and inclusive environment, some points are common. “The subject needs to be within the corporation’s strategic agenda. The commitment of top leadership is fundamental”, believes Flávia Vieira, Human Resources Officer at Bombardier, a company that is one of the references in the sector.
To achieve this involvement, we need to address the inertia and lack of awareness of the need to do something effective, according to Klabin’s Organizational Development and Diversity expert Inara Sanchez. “One of the biggest difficulties is facing unconscious biases and the thought that nothing needs to be done,” she explains. Fleury Group Sustainability Manager Daniel Périgo confirms: “We need to work hard with leaders to start breaking visions and paradigms. The healthcare sector is very conservative and technical, with many unconscious biases, such as the idea of only hiring professionals from large centers”, he says.
Both lead the initiatives of their companies in the area of diversity. Klabin, where Sanchez works, was a primarily male company until recently. The diversity program, which was introduced in 2017 with dispersed actions, has been gaining momentum and is beginning to produce its first results, with several projects that now involve aligned messages and all the company’s units. Female participation in the workforce, for example, which was only 10% by 2015, has now risen to 13%. Among the various efforts, a female leadership program, conversation circles and outreach were developed, and affinity groups are still being created.
Fleury Group, in turn, where Périgo works, had its first actions in the area in 2012, with subsequent revisions, and today works to create a more appropriate identity. “We are culturally diverse because we are in various states, from north to south of the country, but that does not mean that our identity is diverse,” he says. The project includes initiatives in the fields of positioning, engagement, communication, training and inclusion, embedded in a policy of valuing diversity. There are inclusive and apprenticeship programs for people with disabilities, maternity care and other actions for LGBT + employees.
In addition to the experiences of Mercer, Klabin, Fleury and Bombardier, the CCBC Diversity Committee event also provided an analysis of the negative impacts that a lack of social infrastructure, such as sanitation, has on women’s professional development. The study was presented by BRK Environmental CEO Teresa Vernaglia.
The event is part of a series of debates promoted by the Committee that has already published an e-book about the trends and challenges of having diversity and inclusion in hiring. Check out the material here.