Making a Commitment to Diversity

Earlier this year, metal packaging manufacturer and aerospace company Ball Corp. took a major step toward promoting inclusiveness, naming Manette Snow its new vice president of diversity and inclusion.

In the newly created role, Snow will further develop diversity and inclusion practices at Ball, supporting efforts to attract, retain and develop diverse employees.

Below are edited excerpts from Snow’s interview with Diversity Executive.

Why was it important for Ball to create a new position for diversity and inclusion?

While Ball previously had a director of diversity and inclusion role, it was vacated last fall and my new role of vice president [of] diversity and inclusion was created to replace this prior role. We felt it was important to elevate the position to the vice president level, reporting directly to the CEO, to demonstrate Ball’s commitment to this important area, and ensure that it is given it a greater sense of urgency and visibility within our organization.

Manette Snow, Ball Corp.
Manette Snow, Ball Corp.

What are the biggest challenges companies face in building and retaining a diverse workforce?

One of our biggest challenges is ensuring everyone at Ball understands and believes that diversity and inclusion are business imperatives. Making progress in this area is critical to our long-term success and an important part of Ball’s “Drive for 10” vision. Consider what the global workforce will look like in 2020: Up to four or five generations working together, more than half millennial, with greater racial and ethnic diversity and an increasing number of women. Given this rapidly changing world, it’s critical that everyone at Ball takes this issue seriously. 

From a tactical standpoint, another challenge is that most companies are competing for similar diverse talent so we’ll need to find creative ways to better source diverse candidates and ensure that Ball stands out from other employers. Ball’s specific industries also present some unique challenges because the manufacturing and aerospace industries historically have not attracted as many women and/or ethnic minorities from a workforce perspective. 

How will you utilize your new role to support diversity and inclusion goals?

My role is to support our businesses so that they can drive greater diversity and inclusion at Ball. Right now, I’m completing a “fact-finding” mission so I can both understand and leverage the work already completed in this area — both at Ball, as well as at other leading companies in this area — to learn more about what’s worked and what hasn’t, so I can further define and refine our strategy and identify top priorities. 

In the spirit of “inclusiveness,” I am also gathering ideas and suggestions from individuals within the company who are passionate about this issue. Gathering and understanding this information is key because it will provide the foundation upon which we can further define and refine our D&I strategy.

What new practices do you plan to bring to the company?

We are planning to introduce several “next-generation” diversity and inclusion concepts, including revamping our historical “employee resource groups” to be more “business-focused” resource groups. We also are going to take a more data-driven approach to D&I by developing a set of baseline metrics and identifying appropriate external benchmarks against which we will measure our future progress. Finally, we are planning to rollout general D&I training, as well as unconscious bias training, for all of our U.S. supervisors and managers later this year.

Why is diversity and inclusion important to you?

As a 4-foot-11, mixed-race female, I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences where I felt like an outsider, and wondered whether I was being judged based on my contributions and/or performance versus my appearance. Many studies show that given my gender, ethnicity and, yes, even my height that I should not have succeeded in corporate America. This only motivates me to work harder and more passionately to succeed, especially now that my role is to support and create opportunities for other underserved populations. I also have two teenage daughters, which makes me all the more passionate about furthering diversity and inclusion at Ball and in the world in general.