Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs are common in today’s workplaces as companies strive to connect with an increasingly diverse customer base. Whether operating globally or servicing a local clientele, business leaders recognize that customer demographics are changing and reaching them requires employees who bring different perspectives. But, is incorporating diversity and inclusion strategies into the talent acquisition process enough? Should companies do more to open up long-term opportunities internally?
For my latest #MindTheTechTalentGap blog post, I turned to local commerce and online marketplace giant Groupon. Their latest D&I program seeks to develop and retain diverse, mid-to senior-level talent from within their organization of more than 6,000 employees. I was thrilled to sit down with the company’s Global Head of I&D, Corey Flournoy, to learn more, as D&I is one of my personal passions.
Corey shared the goals behind this new program, what he and his team hope to achieve, the importance of addressing bias, and why companies need to mind their internal talent pipelines as part of their overall recruitment and retention strategy.
It’s True – D&I Makes Good Business Sense
Corey’s approach to D&I at Groupon is built on two beliefs – that it’s the right thing to do and it provides businesses with a competitive advantage. Research backs him up. A recent McKinsey & Company report, Delivering Through Diversity, found that companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform their peers on profitability. Similarly, gender diversity at the executive level is correlated with higher profitability.
Yet, he remains concerned that there’s an unspoken ceiling that prevents many diverse employees from reaching senior manager or director level positions. As a result, Corey and his Global I&D team are consciously working to target internal diverse talent for leadership roles at Groupon. They anticipate that these rising stars will bring new ideas and perspectives into the higher-level decision-making process.
Acknowledging Bias is the First Step
For any D&I program to be successful, companies need to recognize the prevalence of bias in the workplace. Deloitte’s 2019 State of Inclusion Survey shows that while 86% of respondents said they felt comfortable being themselves all or most of the time at work, 64% said that they had experienced bias in their workplaces during the last year.
The performance review process is one of the most common places to find bias. Corey shared that it’s due to our human tendency to favor people who are like us, often at the expense of those that are culturally different.
This trend can lead minority groups to have lower performance ratings. Using the same philosophy, leaders are often more likely to mentor or sponsor people similar to themselves. This provides certain employee groups greater access and opportunity for career advancement and development than others.
A Truly Inclusive Diversity Program Gets Results
Corey and his team’s new program, Groupon’s Resource for Emerging and Aspiring Talent (GREAT) Leadership Program, aims to provide resources and opportunities to the company’s high performing, under-represented employees. The goal is to show them how they can not only advance into senior management roles, but also be highly successful in them.
The 12-month blended comprehensive developmental program consists of in-person workshops, performance management training for managers, external coaching, senior level mentoring, and an ongoing series of workshops that evaluate the many characteristics and behaviors of an executive.
Corey believes that what makes Groupon’s diversity program unique is that it specifically includes training for managers of these high performing diverse employees. By increasing their self-awareness and confidence with encountering cultural differences, Groupon hopes to develop these managers into leaders that can coach their direct reports on how to take ownership of their career progression. While the program just kicked off in late July, I can’t wait to hear more about its progress.
The program has four ambitious goals, all designed to grow diversity on Groupon’s executive level team:
- Create programs specifically for retaining and developing the company’s stand-out diverse talent
- Provide career and personal development workshops and additional resources for senior level career advancement
- Provide the company’s diverse cohort with consistent access to senior leaders as they advance in their careers
- Train managers to be more effective in developing, coaching, and championing their diverse talent and encouraging them to take advantage of internal career opportunities
The final, critical piece of the puzzle for Corey is inclusion. It’s one thing to have diverse leadership, but to really see results companies need commit to consistently giving these executives a seat at the table where they can contribute to the business in a strategic, senior-level role. Inclusion is a key tenet of Groupon’s culture, so much so that they choose to call it “I&D” as opposed to “D&I.” The driving force behind the decision to put inclusion first is to set up an empathetic work culture across regional demographics and cultural identities, what Groupon calls its “Global Pillars.” By doing so, they aim to attract more diversity through word of mouth and employee testimonials on the front end, making diversity happen more naturally.
Cultivating diverse talent from within an organization has multiple benefits. It helps retain and motivate star employees who might otherwise seek opportunities elsewhere. It develops thought leaders that provide fresh perspectives representing the world in which we live. And ultimately, it has a positive impact on the bottom line leading to greater profitability and growth.
If you’re a business leader looking to build a more diverse executive team, what approach are you taking? Have you had any success? Hit any obstacles? Use #MindTheTechTalentGap on social media to share your experiences or just comment below. I’d love to hear from you.