Getting Employees to Embrace Diversity

At Protiviti, diversity and inclusion is embedded into the company culture. Employees at every level of the organization are engaged in diversity initiatives and affinity groups.

Susan Haseley, managing director and diversity and inclusion leader at Protiviti, understands the importance of getting both leadership and employees involved in diversity and inclusion.

Haseley recently spoke with Diversity Executive about getting employees to embrace diversity. Below are edited excerpts from her interview.

How do you promote diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization, from entry level to C-suite executives?

It starts with diversity and inclusion embedded into the organization’s strategy. D&I is a strategic advantage — organizations that believe this premise will keep D&I present during the strategic planning process.

Susan Haseley, managing director and diversity and inclusion leader at Protiviti
Susan Haseley, managing director and diversity and inclusion leader at Protiviti

Once a part of the company’s overall strategy, communication and engagement are key to promoting D&I. Communication is important to encourage, recognize and celebrate D&I initiatives and progress. Engagement by all levels in the organization is important to ongoing success.

The best way to promote D&I with the C-suite and leadership team is to show the impact — such as how it impacts the organization’s financial results, how it positively impacts clients and employees. This ties directly into the company strategy.

The best way to promote D&I with employees is to show how D&I engagement benefits them, their careers and the organization they work for.

What can employers do to get employees engaged in D&I?

Getting employees engaged is easy if they understand and value D&I. One of the best ways for employees to engage is through affinity groups. At Protiviti, we encourage and support many different affinity groups; many of them were formed from the ground up because employees were passionate about putting the group together for a specific purpose. A few of Protiviti’s affinity groups include women, veterans, LBGT and parents. These groups were formed because employees felt they were important and needed.

An example is Protiviti’s women’s group that’s called iGrow, which stands for growth and retention of women. This group focuses on the recruiting, retention, development and promotion of women in the organization and has been a very successful affinity group for us.

How do you grow support and participation in diversity and inclusion initiatives?

If your employees understand and believe in the importance and value of D&I, they will participate. Educational sessions raise awareness, but day-to-day on the job experiences as members of a diverse team shows real value. At Protiviti, we help our clients solve business and technology problems — we believe that the solution we come up with is better with a team that’s diverse. Team members may approach the problems with different perspectives and with different experiences — all are beneficial in solving problems. Diversity of thought is a beautiful thing.

Why is it important to build a culture that prioritizes diversity and inclusion?

Our world is evolving — we have a global economy and the make-up of our population continues to change. D&I is a fundamental component of success in today’s business environment, and it can be a competitive advantage. At Protiviti, we have built a culture that embraces differences. It’s important for us to hire top talent, retain top talent, and develop and promote top talent. Protiviti invests a lot in recruiting and retention — but without the top talent, we cannot achieve our company objectives. A culture that prioritizes D&I will be one where employees are engaged, understand differences and work together to come up with the best solutions.