Expanding the definition of diversity and fostering a culture of inclusiveness were two themes echoed throughout seven company presentations at the Diversity in the Workplace Symposium held Feb. 11, 2013 in the Frank Auditorium at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Brunswick Group, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Fannie Mae, J.C. Penney, KPMG and Target made presentations at the event.
Representatives of Brunswick Group said that having a diverse workforce is what enables the company to provide well-rounded services to its clients and noted that this means having employees that come from diverse professional backgrounds in addition to diverse cultural backgrounds. They company tries to take full advantage of such diversity by promoting an open bullpen culture at each of its offices worldwide, they added.
Representatives from Deloitte discussed the company’s Business Resource Groups, which are groups within the company built around common ethnicities and interests. These groups, which include mentorship programs, are aimed at fostering a culture of inclusion in addition to promoting workplace diversity, said Foster Rockwell, a specialist master within the human capital group at Deloitte Consulting.
Ernst & Young is also a company that emphasizes inclusiveness and the company has a director of inclusiveness recruiting, said Marie Accius, a campus recruiter and supervisory associate with the company. She also emphasized that diversity improves the company’s performance, noting that diverse teams achieve more than homogenous teams.
Fannie Mae is another company with internal groups to promote workplace diversity, called Employee Resource Groups, and about one-third of the company’s employees are members of these groups. The company has an Office of Diversity and Inclusion and has partnerships with outside organizations that promote diversity, company representatives said.
Nicolette Johnson, a human resources manager at J.C. Penney, related diversity to the company’s recent culture change, saying innovative ideas come from diverse groups. She also pointed to the company hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman and standing behind her despite outcries from groups opposed to the company using a gay spokeswoman.
KPMG has a diversity chairperson, a diversity advisory board and diversity networks to promote inclusiveness for employees from diverse backgrounds. Company representatives also pointed out a company program pairing employees with young children with employees with older children to help prepare parents with young children for the future.
Target needs to have a diverse workforce because many of its stores are located in diverse neighborhoods, and the company hires from its store communities. It is important for the company’s employees to reflect the company’s customers, said Angela Bisland, assets protection business partner at Target.
The event that was set up by SmithOUT and co-sponsored by a variety of Smith and University of Maryland organizations, including the Association of Latino Professional in Finance and Accounting, terpAMA, the Student Government Association, the Smith Undergraduate Student Association, the Finance Banking and Investment Society, the Accounting and Business Association, The One Project and the Office of Career Services.
Peter Haldis, MBA Candidate 2014, Office of Marketing Communications