A Few Good Programs

All this talk about the problems of the workforce can be a little disheartening. It is helpful to remember that as neighborhoods, schools, and civic associations are increasingly resegregating, work settings remains relatively integrated. Furthermore, some companies are coming up with innovative ideas to become more diverse and better integrated. In this series, we'll explore some best practices for managing diversity in the modern corporate world.

In a blog post entitled "When Female Networks Aren't Enough" "When Female Networks Aren't Enough"   Sylvia Anne Hewlett, founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy

 highlights the following cases. The accounting firm Deloitte & Touche has implemented two training programs to move their most promising female talent up the pipeline. One program, called leading edge "helps a select group of women partners, principals and directors gain invaluable insight into their leadership capabilities strengthen their relationship-building skills, and broaden their professional networks." The other program is an eighteen-month course that provides one-to-one coaching, leadership meetings, and "direct exposure to executives and potential sponsors."

American Express created a program entitled "Women in the Pipeline and at the Top." Good name. I like that it recognizes, but does not hide behind the age-old pipeline excuse. In September of 2010, American Express is hosting the company's first summit for executive women and senior leadership is encouraged to attend in order to increase the odds that each female attendee find a sponsor. The company is simultaneously conducting training that aims to reduce unconscious bias.

Another good practice is establishing a Chief Diversity Officer in the office of the executive rather than in an HR back office. Back in 2002, when it could still claim the title of an industry standard, Fannie Mae, the mortgage financial services company, created "an Office of Diversity at the vice-presidential level reporting directly to the president and chief operating officer."   Fannie Mae also assembled a Diversity Advisory Council, a standing committee that combined senior management with representatives of employee support groups in order to ensure a direct line of communication. In 2007, Hewlett identified General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, and American Express as being among the companies with diversity officers in the executive suite.

We'd love to read your comments telling us about your take on these programs or tales of experiences with ones like them.