by Julie Cook Ramirez
Originally published: July 10, 2017
Diversity and inclusion initiatives have become ubiquitous for the majority of American businesses, with companies unveiling a slew of programs designed to reduce bias and enhance respect and appreciation for differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education and religion. Despite some pretty hefty investments, critics frequently brand such programs as well-meaning but misguided.
A new initiative aims to change that, by taking a truly top-down approach to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. More than 150 CEOs from some of the world's leading companies have signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, 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 both successful and unsuccessful actions are shared across organizations.
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, Procter & Gamble and PwC, the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion effort grew out of a recognition that strong business outcomes are correlated with diverse teams and inclusive work environments. It was bolstered by a report from the Center for Talent Innovation, which found that two-thirds of employees are uncomfortable discussing race relations, while 29 percent feel it is never acceptable to speak about experiences of race-based bias at their company. Recognizing the potentially catastrophic impact not only on business, but on society at large, the steering committee set out to encourage other leaders to set competition aside and work together for the greater good.