Written by Dr. Linda McKenzie and Hannah Nichole

The embers of the 1960s Civil Rights Era street protest have ignited in the executive suites worldwide after the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black people. While these murders are not happening in corporate offices, it begs the question of brutality in the workplace, and the public is demanding accountability. Big corporations are answering by filling Diversity Officer C-Suite seats at record rates to carry out diversity, equity, inclusion, and attempting to build an anti-racist culture.

The research substantiates that organizations with cultural diversity significantly exceed in performance against groups who are culturally homogenous. More and more organizations realize the mutual benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce and it imperative to business. Global Empathy Training Academy (GETA) explored the top global organizations to learn about best practices and processes in recruiting, retaining, developing, and promoting staff.

 

Our research found that the top U.S. global organizations follow three guiding principles:

  • They Heavily invest in people by providing ongoing professional development and mentorships.
  • They Value and practice diversity & inclusion in the workplace.
  • They use holistic leadership practices that promote empathy.

According to Fortune’s World Most Admired Companies, the United States holds 43 of the top 50 company spots for being most admired. We examined the top three companies on Fortune’s list to investigate their diversity and inclusion efforts, especially in this era of civil unrest. Apple, Inc reigns at the top of the Forbes list for the 13th year straight, followed by Amazon, while Microsoft occupies third place. Each of the three companies ranked first in their industry as most admired. See table below for a summary list of our research on diversity positions.


Five Commonalities & Differences Between Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft

  • Representation in Executive Leadership. Apple’s website boasts an impressive spread of statistics on their commitment to hiring an inclusive culture of talent. Unfortunately, we did not notice any Black people represented in Apple’s executive leadership. We turned to Siri to learn if there is a dedicated diversity position in executive leadership. Here is the conversation:

GETA: Hey Siri

Siri: Uh Huh

GETA: Who is the CEO of Apple?

Siri: Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple.

GETA: Hey Siri

Siri: Huh

GETA: Who is the Chief Diversity Officer at Apple?

Siri: I cannot find that answer. Maybe the website can help you.

Apple is the only company in the top 20 without a dedicated diversity position in leadership. ² Hey, Apple. How can you be serious about diversity and inclusion without a dedicated officer in executive leadership? You have great products, but there is nothing admirable about this epic fail.

  • Home Page Recognition. Valuing diversity means displaying it clearly on the home page. Apple and Microsoft have a dedicated hyperlink on their home page menu for Diversity and Inclusion, while locating Amazon’s diversity and executive leadership information took a little more effort. Each company offered a layout of statistics and employee testimonials praising the workplace. However, Microsoft blazes a trail by offering its first diversity report, which lays out five subject content areas of their diversity efforts.
  • Capital Investment in Black-owned Banks. While all show detailed commitment to supporting underrepresented communities in various ways, Apple and Microsoft are making capital investments in Black-owned banks. We could not find any data showing Amazon’s commitment to capital investments in Black-owned banks. This commitment helps close the wealth gap in society while increasing funding opportunities in underrepresented communities.
  • Strategic Recruit Targets & Equity Efforts. Building relationships at colleges and universities is vital to recruiting top talent. All three corporations partner with Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) for recruiting and are committed to minimizing the wage gap. We could not find any statistics reporting on extended job offers, details on how often they recruit, commitments to the number of hires for people of color, or capital investments made directly to HBCUs. Finally, having a testimonial on just one of the most admired websites from an HBCU school official would make a standing impression of partnership and having your commitment spoken directly from the source.
  • Diversity Employee Resource Groups. More than 25,000 employees participate in a variety of Apple’s Diversity Network Associations. Amazon has 12 Affinity Groups with over 87,000 employee engagement, and Microsoft has nine Employee Resource Groups that support employees through in-group connections and a culture of belonging. We could not find any survey data or meaningful, targeted outcomes curated from these support groups. We would love to see testimonials on the mutual benefits and collaborations between each of the groups and between the employee and employer.

Table 1

Forbes Ranking

Company

“Chief” recognized in Job Title

“VP or SVP” recognized in Job Title

“Global” recognized in Job Title

Dual Titles recognized in Job Title

Job Titles*

1

Apple

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

2

Amazon

  YES 

Head of Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

3

Microsoft

YES   

Chief Diversity Officer

4

Walt Disney

 YES YES

SVP & Chief Diversity Officer

5

Berkshire Hathaway²

    

N/A

6

Starbucks

YES YES 

Global Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer

7

Alphabet (Google)

YES   

Chief Diversity Officer

8

JPMorgan Chase

  YES 

Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion

9

Costco Wholesale

YESYES  

Executive VP, COO_Eastern & Canadian Divisions & Chief Diversity Officer

10

Salesforce

YES   

Chief Equality & Recruiting Officer

11

Southwest Airlines

 YES  

VP Diversity & Inclusion

12

Coca-Cola

YES YES 

Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

13

Nike

YES   

Chief Talent, Diversity & Culture Officer

14

American Express

YES   

Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer

15

FedEx

YES  YES

SVP & Chief Diversity Officer

16

Netflix

 YES  

VP, Inclusion Strategy

17

Marriott International

YES YESYES

Global Chief Human Resources Officer &

Global Chief Diversity Officer

18

Walmart

YESYES YES

SVP and Chief Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer

19

Delta Airlines

YES   

Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

20

Procter & Gamble

YES  YES

Chief Equality & Inclusion Officer and Executive VP of HR

Reporting with Vulnerability Is What Sets Microsoft Apart From the Rest


Microsoft published a 46-page Global Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020 that addressed their work with vulnerability. We appreciated the constant acknowledgment of being steadfast in growing their efforts, although it may never be enough. Chief Diversity Officer Lisa-Rae McIntyre of Microsoft said that they are:

“asking hard questions, facing the answers head on, and being willing to experience discomfort in the process-this is the necessary work that individuals and organizations must do every day in an intentional effort to become more diverse and inclusive.”

We agree. Microsoft responded to addressing racial injustice with a commitment to strengthening the communities, ecosystem, and increasing representation and inclusion inside their organization. For example, in 2019, Microsoft launched Allyship at Microsoft as a learning path and training to help staff become more active in supporting others. In 2020, four of their courses will be mandatory for staff. Microsoft will share the learning resources with a host of their connections beginning in March 2021.

Indeed, like many empires, Microsoft has significant work to do, especially addressing the ongoing challenges with Black professionals on their LinkedIn platform. However, we are hopeful by the actionable details of their commitment to addressing racial injustice within Microsoft. Kudos Lisa-Rae McIntyre on blazing a necessary trail on reporting diversity with vulnerability. We are looking forward to reading future reports.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of driving change all over the world. Indeed, DEI is a function of leadership. Many organizations are intentionally making public commitments to support DEI efforts, while some are forced to reflect when their inadequacy is exposed. Further, the economic advantages of significantly dominating Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list positions the United States in the vanguard of driving change, building antiracism culture, in addition to denouncing the atrocities of hate all over the world. Where do we begin building new policies and commitments that recognize 400 years of inequity within U.S. organizations? We say just begin. Start with a commitment to do something in moving toward necessary change. Future leadership is worthy of commitment.


Four Tips to Strengthen Diversity Within Your Organization
.

Considerations for Greater Accountability: Transparency and Dedication to Social Responsibility

Conduct a deep dive into your employee grievances and arbitration cases, especially with Black employees. Address the racial discrimination head-on. Employees understand the consequences of filing a complaint. Most are filed after exhausting every attempt to find a solution. Employees want to see restorative practices that give a voice without the threat of retaliation.

Empower your Chief Diversity Officers

Your Chief Diversity Officers are crucial to reporting inequity in the workplace. Support their role with dollars and allyship, primarily when they must deliver the unwholesome news. Move these positions into your executive senior leadership. Chief Diversity Officers are as critical to company success as Chief Operating Officers.

Compensate Dedicated Members of Your Employee Resource Groups

Corporations that offer these resources without acknowledging the mutual benefit are oppressive and not supportive. Corporations are essentially gaining valuable research from their employees for free. We have two suggestions. First, you can additionally compensate your trusted advisors in these groups. Second, you can allow these affinity groups to choose outside nonprofit organizations to support and make a donation at the discretion of the employee or group. For example, Ally@Microsoft can select five organizations to support each year, like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, or an HBCU. As a corporation, you donate in honor of the employee or affinity group.

Take a Stand and Acknowledge that Black Lives Matter

While companies like Uber and Ben & Jerry’s are courageous in their support, too many are tiptoeing around supporting Black Lives Matter. Say it. Paint it on your corporate walls and social media. Acknowledge the truth. Black. Lives. Matter. Equity depends on organizations understanding the antithesis of the truth and myth of this movement. #BLM is not going away.


If You Are Newly Committed to Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Start at the Top

Advancing leadership potential is a part of the privilege of being a leader. Executive leaders, including the Board of Directors, should be actively and visibly supportive in all diversity and inclusion initiatives. Commit intentionally to doing the work necessary for an inclusive culture. Start with listening to your Black employee’s lived experiences and discover their challenges with diversity at work. Require diversity statements in the application process and provide training as part of the onboarding process for new staff. 

Start with Empathy Training

Empathy-infused training programs are a critical tool for educating stakeholders and employees on the benefits of their everyday interactions with their coworkers, customers, partners, and more. We facilitate peer-reviewed research-based training programs to help participants develop knowledge through listening, investigating, analyzing, reflecting, and communicating using a Global Empathy Conceptual Framework. Empathy training is a prerequisite to diversity training by providing participants with tools to practice empathy and gain a mutual understanding.

Conduct an Environmental Scan

Without careful and thorough planning, critical elements will prevent diversity initiatives to take full effect. Having an outside consultant can give another lens of the culture, including a thorough SWOT of your HR initiatives for strengthening diversity initiatives while comparing it to standards in research.

We hope that you found this report informative and that you are committed to moving into a globally inclusive and empathetic culture. We look forward to engaging with DEI experts in 2021! Please email us at hello@globalempathytraining.com if you have any questions about our work. Happy New Year!

Disclaimer: We’ve learned Apple has since hired a new diversity officer. We congratulate Apple on this step in the right direction and their recent racial equity and justice project initiatives

 

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Global Empathy Training Academy is nationally certified by the SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MINORITY SUPPLIER DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

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¹Fortune Incorporated methodology used a definitive report card to create a corporate reputation list by surveying approximately 3,800 executives, directors, and analysts. The survey asked these professionals to create a top 10 list of their most admired companies using criteria such as social responsibility and the value of company investments. Our researcher could not find answers to how executives chose their top 10 or why they ranked Apple as the most admired. The top-rated companies were picked from a pool of 680 companies in 30 countries. The executives who voted work at the companies in that group.

²We found several dedicated diversity officer positions held within the dozens of affiliate companies at Berkshire Hathaway.

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