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5 Reasons Your CEO Should Chair Your Diversity Council

Best Practices From AT&T, EY, Kellogg Company, Wyndham Worldwide and KeyCorp on why it is so important for a CEO to chair your executive diversity council.


Best Practices From AT&T, EY, Kellogg Company, Wyndham Worldwide and KeyCorp

By Barbara Frankel

We've heard it many times: Our CEO is just too busy to personally chair the executive diversity council. He or she is deeply committed to diversity but heads a major corporation and just doesn't have time.


And yet Randall Stephenson—Chairman and CEO of one of the largest DiversityInc Top 50 companies, AT&T, with 232,286 U.S. employees—started his company's council in 2008 when he created AT&T's chief diversity officer position and has chaired it since. So do 54 percent of the Top 50 CEOs, up from 32 percent in 2005.

Why do certain CEOs feel this is so important? We asked five companies—EY, AT&T, Kellogg Company, Wyndham Worldwide and KeyCorp, Nos. 3, 10, 31, 39 and 47, respectively, on the Top 50. Here are their five main reasons they feel strongly the CEO should be at the helm.

For sample council models, click here.

1. This was a personal decision for the CEO, who saw the diversity council as vital to the core business.


Stephen R. Howe Jr., EY Americas Managing Partner, never thought about not chairing the council. “I set the tone in our organization as the leader in the U.S. and the Americas. People are watching the message I'm sending. My job is to run the business. This is fundamental to our business," he says.

He notes how increasingly important diversity and inclusion has become to EY's business as a professional-services firm. “I tell my partners that it is not at all uncommon for me in a meeting with a client CEO to turn to this topic. That wasn't true five years ago."

At AT&T, Stephenson has been a prominent diversity leader. “When he looks at D&I, he says 'This is my job, to make sure I have a company that has the best and brightest,'" notes Belinda Grant-Anderson, Vice President, Workforce Development & Diversity. “It didn't feel to him that he could have someone else do it. He's the chair and his direct reports are the members. … His being the leader lends a great deal of credibility. For example, when Randall says ERGs [employee resource groups] are very critical to me, everyone listens and that's a factor in our huge growth." AT&T's employee-resource-group membership was up by 39 percent last year.

At Kellogg, Chairman, President and CEO John Bryant wanted to chair his company's Executive Diversity & Inclusion Council (EDIC) when he became President and CEO in 2011. Before that, he was the executive sponsor of the Multicultural Employee Resource Group.

“His engagement and leadership help get things done. By his leadership of EDIC meetings and our ERG involvement in the EDIC meetings, he can hear first-hand our opportunities and provide coaching, support and direction where needed, which makes the decision-making progress much more efficient," says Mark King, Global Head, Diversity & Inclusion.


At KeyCorp, Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney “wanted to have her personal brand on this. To he a visible leader in this space certainly motivates other senior leaders to align with intent," says Bruce Murphy, Executive Vice President and Head of Corporate Responsibility.

When Wyndham Worldwide was formed in 2006, the first executive diversity council was started. Chairman and CEO Stephen Holmes wanted to be the chair and selected all the members personally. “The need to be the chair really came out of his thinking of our core values—talent management, diversity, sustainability and wellness," says Patricia Lee, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer.

As the company was starting, Holmes kept a flip chart in his office in which he kept writing essential words—“customer," “community," “integrity," “respect," “diversity," Lee recalls.

2. The CEO sets the tone for other executives—and the whole company—to follow.

Karyn Twaronite, Partner at Ernst & Young LLP and Americas Inclusiveness Officer at EY, notes that Howe's visibility as the council leader is “very authentic because he leads by example." He often shares stories of what he heard at the council and what he's learned. “People stand up and pay attention. He's the boss so everybody hangs on his intention and his words," she says.

Howe cites an example. During the financial crisis of 2007–2008, the firm had to cut its budget yet it increased spending on diversity and inclusion and created programs to help executives lead inclusively. “I got pushback from partners but I explained what I'd learned from the council of the importance to the business. … When my light bulb goes off, I make sure other people know that," he says.

At Wyndham, the involvement of Holmes is also emphasized in every way—town halls, small-group meetings, during earnings announcements. “Steve will say, 'I was meeting with the diversity council and someone said something that made me think differently,'" Lee says.


An example she cites is that Holmes didn't understand why generational issues, particularly the emphasis on Millennials, were part of diversity. During a council session, he learned how different attitudes on work, careers, community and social responsibility impact a company. “Two hours later, he was talking about it [and talking to his own kids] and he was incorporating it in his work," Lee says.

The CEO's leadership, Grant-Anderson says, gives the council and the diversity work credibility throughout AT&T. She cites the company's recent emphasis on women's leadership and the WOW [World of Women] Portal built to address what women need to succeed. “The front page was Randall saying this was important and that we need to pay attention to it," she says.

3. Council members are more senior—and diverse in every way—when the CEO chairs.

EY's Howe publicly recognizes council members who are showing leadership. Most of the 32 council members (all of whom are partners) have two-year rotations, but if someone “is too busy or this isn't a priority," they rotate off sooner, Twaronite says. And some partners are asked to extend their stay if they are having major impact.

The council members represent different areas of technical expertise and different markets. “The real value is between the meetings. If this group really shares best practices, we want them to then have an impact back on their business," Howe says.

Wyndham's Global Diversity Council meets quarterly, and several of the council members also sit on business unit diversity councils. The approximately 28-member council is diverse by gender, nationality, ethnicity, veteran status and business role, Lee says, and members are rotated off every two or three years.

KeyCorp launched its council two years ago with the initial emphasis on educating leaders about the importance of diversity and inclusion. This year, Murphy says, the focus has shifted to results with line-of-business champions and employee-resource-group leaders on the council. “We wanted to have that voice to talk about best practices, to guide the work of the council," he says.

4. The CEO's presence makes council members more accountable for diversity goals.

AT&T's council adheres to four pillars: monitor and continually improve the state of diversity and inclusion, lawfully achieve diversity results, ensure we are attracting and retaining and developing the right people, and ensure pipeline leadership-development programs are diverse, Grant-Anderson says.

Goals are set at the corporate level across business units with each unit setting its own specific goals. Each quarter, the council receives a scorecard with the business units' reports on progress. Compensation is impacted, with 5 percent of the bonus dependent on meeting the goals.


At Kellogg, the Executive D&I Council reviews and approves the overall company D&I strategic plan. D&I goals are linked to executive compensation through the Annual Incentive Plan (bonus program) and the annual performance-management process. The bonus-program goals are set by King and Chief Human Resources Officer Sammie Long, then are sent to Bryant for approval. Diversity goals include hiring, promotions, retention and engagement, and account for 5 percent of the program payout. This applies to the top two levels of the company.

At Wyndham Worldwide, all senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents have diversity-and-inclusion goals—including hiring, talent development, promotions, teaching, presenting diversity initiatives, supplier diversity, mentoring franchisors from underrepresented groups, and community leadership. “Everyone's goals are aligned to our ABCs—Associates, Business, Community," Lee says. “At mid-year and end year, Steve says, 'At the end of the day, if you aren't doing your goals, if you aren't practicing what's important to the organization, you're not here."

EY notes that every P&L leader is evaluated on D&I goals, with every line of business having a representative on the council.

5. CEOs who chair their council are more available to chief diversity officers.

At all five companies interviewed—and at the majority of Top 50 companies where CEOs chair the council—there is unusual access to the CEO, even if the CDO is not a direct report.

Murphy jokes that his access to CEO Mooney “is probably more than I want," adding that she is “one floor away and I talk to her on every type of front."

Twaronite puts it quite eloquently: “The way Steve operates with me, he makes me an insider. When you are doing culture-change work, being an insider is critical—you have trust, you have the ability to get real-time feedback."

How a Large Company Like Comcast NBCUniversal Successfully Manages Diversity & Inclusion

The company has created the perfect synergy of engagement, accountability, advisory, and transparency to drive its success in managing diversity and inclusion.

Comcast NBCUniversal has had plenty of success in managing diversity and inclusion over the past seven years. That success shows in the company's ranking on the DiversityInc Top 50. The company is ranked No. 7 now, but was No. 49 just five years ago.

David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast Corporation, credits the success of the company's D&I efforts to the embedding of diversity within the business and functional areas of the company that are responsible for executing on business objectives.

Comcast NBCUniversal has a number of teams helping to drive this. Its Corporate D&I team coordinates company-wide initiatives and serves as a critical D&I resource to the rest of the company. The Corporate D&I team is also responsible for data analytics and D&I reporting.

The company's Workforce D&I team is embedded in human resources and has direct responsibility in hiring, setting hiring practices and initiatives, and executing on them. Comcast NBCUniversal's employee resource groups have over 30,000 members in more than 150 chapters across the country.In addition, disability inclusion initiatives are housed under Workforce D&I, and the company also has a dedicated Military & Veterans Affairs group that spans the organization. The company ranked No. 10, No. 4, and No. 6, respectively, on DiversityInc's Top Companies for Employee Resource Groups, People with Disabilities, and Veterans lists.

These teams, along with Programming, Community Impact, and Supplier Diversity (the company ranked No. 2 on DiversityInc's Top Companies for Supplier Diversity), work together to ensure there is a D&I lens at all times. Cohen explained, "We have been successful in moving the diversity and inclusion needle by embedding the responsibility for driving diversity and inclusion in the company right into the businesses where the decisions are being made that impact the diversity of this company and the feeling of inclusion that exists among our employees."

Internal and External Diversity Councils Drive Efforts

Comcast NBCUniversal has three diversity councils supporting its D&I efforts. Comcast and NBCUniversal each has an internal diversity council (IDC), which are chaired respectively by Cohen and Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at NBCUniversal, and have senior leader representation from all areas of the two businesses. The internal councils set and implement D&I strategy and hold key stakeholders accountable for results. The IDCs meet independently and jointly throughout the year, and management bonuses are tied in part to D&I goals and performance.

The company's Joint Diversity Advisory Council (JDC), its external council, serves in an advisory capacity. Also chaired by Cohen, the JDC provides advice and guidance on development and implementation of the company's D&I strategy. The JDC is comprised of external national leaders in business, politics and civil rights and represents interests of women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people.

Cohen noted that the JDC has been one of the most important tools the company has had in driving its D&I efforts. Cohen noted, "Having this outside set of advisors that cares about the company, that cares about diversity, has really helped improve the quality of our diversity and inclusion practices and has helped us to create a state-of-the-art diversity and inclusion program at our company." The JDC advises on all things micro, macro, and in between. Examples include advising on D&I policies, serving as a radar for how the company is being perceived in different communities, and holding the company accountable for its commitments.

The JDC also advised Comcast NBCUniversal on how to tell its D&I story. Cohen elaborated, "The JDC has been incredibly helpful in encouraging us to be clearer in the data that we are disclosing. They've helped us to make sure that when we're communicating the substantial data that we do communicate and the progress that we make, we're communicating in a way that is useful to people who may not be as intimately involved in the day-to-day of our diversity and inclusion programs as we are."

This level of transparency can be seen in the company's annual diversity and inclusion report. In the interactive report, the company includes workforce and management demographics (along with that of talent on air and behind the camera at NBCUniversal), information on spend with diverse suppliers, information on diverse content produced, and community impact initiatives. There are a number of companies on the Top 50 that produce annual diversity reports; however, this level of transparency is unprecedented.

Senior Leadership Engagement and Accountability Accelerates Progress

Cohen said that "the best way to move the diversity and inclusion needle quickly is to get buy-in from the senior leadership of the company at every level." A portion of senior leaders' bonuses is tied to the company's D&I goals, and that has helped the company yield desired results. But Cohen also credited success to what he called a "broad-based adoption" of a commitment to D&I by all senior leaders. Comcast NBCUniversal made driving D&I every senior leader's idea, and that in turn made each of them own their commitment to D&I. It also turned the competitiveness of the group up a notch and ultimately made the group hold themselves accountable.

Cohen illustrated one example: "We've got three geographic divisions in Comcast Cable, and when we publish results (quarterly, semi-annually or annually), we break them down by division. If the northeast division is falling behind the west division or the central division on some critical D&I metric, I don't even have to pick up the phone. They look at it and we'll often hear, 'Why are we in third place among the divisions? What are they doing that we're not doing? How do we turn that around?'And the divisional leadership puts in place the steps that are necessary to enhance the diversity performance in that division."

With the embedding of diversity within business and functional areas of the company, the IDCs and senior leaders taking accountability for executing on strategy and driving results, and the JDC's advice, Comcast NBCUniversal is set up for continued success in managing D&I.

How Executive Diversity Councils Yield Talent Results

Sodexo's Rolddy Leyva, VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, talks about how his company's Diversity Leadership Council sets strategic priorities & performance expectations for D&I at the U.S. regional level and drives accountability for progress.


02:15 – 10:54: Best Practices for Effective Diversity Councils

11:08 – 15:54: About Sodexo

15:55 – 18:20: Sodexo's D&I Strategy

18:21 – 22:36: Sodexo's Diversity Leadership Council, Structure and Governance

22:37 – 24:10: DLC Meetings

24:11 – 26:45: DLC Drives Accountability

26:46 – 30:26: Role of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Engagement with- and Utilization of the DLC

30:27 – 34:36: Summary

35:05 – 44:43: Q&A

To download a PDF version of the presentation click here.

Rebooting Your Executive Diversity Council

Northrop Grumman gives best practices on structuring, operating and leveraging a high performing executive diversity council.


Northrop Grumman's Sandra Evers-Manly, Vice President, Global Corporate Responsibility, and Kymberlee Dwinell, Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion, give insights into their executive diversity council. They discuss every aspect of the diversity council, from structure to benefits and effectiveness to driving positive results. This webinar is a roadmap on how to structure and operate a high-performing executive diversity council.

To download a PDF of the presentation, click here.

EY's Global Diversity and Inclusion Committee is Structured to Effectively Tackle Global D&I Challenges

Executives from EY shared with DiversityInc how their global committee has been so successful at effecting change.


Twenty-six of the 38 companies on the DiversityInc Top 50 that have employees working outside of the U.S. have a global diversity council. Among those companies is EY, ranked No. 3 on the DiversityInc Top 50 and No. 1 on DiversityInc’s Top 12 Companies for Global Diversity. The firm has a global D&I committee (its council) that is charged with identifying and tackling D&I challenges, leveraging successful practices and working with key stakeholders on advancing the company’s D&I progress.

DiversityInc caught up with Andrea Ramsey and Ajay Anand for an in-depth interview about the committee and the work it does. Andrea is director, global diversity and inclusiveness and works closely with the committee. Ajay Anand is partner, global client services, global technology sector, and sits on the committee.

EY (No. 3 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, and No. 1 on the 2016 Top 12 Companies for Global Diversity list)

SHANE NELSON: Why does EY have a Global Diversity Committee and what is the mission of the council?

ANDREA RAMSEY: At EY, D&I (diversity and inclusion) is a strategic imperative for the global economy and for us as a global organization. Our clients are working across borders. They represent different backgrounds, capabilities, points of view, and therefore, so do the people on our teams. By maximizing the power of the different perspectives and experiences across all of the people in our 151 countries, we're able to build the highest performing team and are able to ask better questions and offer better approaches that can help our clients achieve their goals.

At the same time, we recognize that D&I is a journey, and it creates opportunities for innovation and growth for the organization and for each of us as individuals. With that, we developed EY’s D&I culture change continuum, our roadmap. It’s our way of describing the stages of this journey that is D&I. Each region, each market, each team and each individual person is at a different stage of this journey. We are all traveling at different speeds but we're aiming for the same goal, which is enabling highest performing teams to help our clients achieve sustainable growth and performance.

This means that we have to constantly reassess, refine and readjust our approach. So regardless of where our teams are today, we expect and ask every team member to join together and move up the continuum.

Our global D&I committee is charged with bringing this framework to life across the organization by exploring D&I challenges, elevating successful practices and collaborating on solutions to accelerate positive progress up that continuum. The roadmap and the vision are sponsored by EY's global chairman, Mark Weinberger. The global D&I committee is one of the key success factors in that plan and bringing it to life. The committee plays an active role in influencing business processes and initiatives that help us reach our overall D&I goal.

NELSON: Tell us about the structure of the committee.

RAMSEY: First, our committee structure reflects strong sponsorship from the top. I mentioned that our global chairman Mark Weinberger sponsors EY’s D&I culture change continuum and roadmap. The Global Diversity Committee itself is co-chaired by Carmine DiSibio, EY's global managing partner — client service and Karyn Twaronite, EY’s global diversity & inclusiveness officer.

Secondly, our structure reflects a diverse mix of influential leaders. Since the committee is a vital strategic body for us, it was important that it include key influential EY leaders from around the world. That way, a variety of perspectives are shared and voices are heard so that we can get alignment and buy-in and enable immediate testing, implementation and feedback.

AJAY ANAND: We represent different parts of our business and functions that include members of our global executive, global leadership, as well as regional leadership. Therefore, we can effect change quickly in all geographies and functions of our business.

For example, I'm one of the 30-plus members from more than 20-plus countries around the world, such as Amsterdam, Moscow, Milan, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Tokyo, Sydney, Dubai, São Paulo. And I'm based out of San Jose, just to name a few.

RAMSEY: In addition to the strong sponsorship and the diverse mix, our structure also reflects a collaborative approach to global alignment and local implementation. To Ajay’s point, each member brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse experiences and backgrounds. At the same time, it brings an ability to drive change and progress in their local markets. They have a two- to three-year rotation on the committee so that they have time to bring those perspectives and also implement from a local perspective.

NELSON: I want to drill into the rotational positions a little bit. When the time is up or the tenure has ended, how does the firm go about determining new members for the Global D&I Committee?

RAMSEY: That diverse mix is really important. It's important for us to look and make sure that different aspects of our business are represented because we're really trying to drive change. To do that, we have to make sure that all parts of the business, the key functions, are represented.

For example, we have multiple service lines in our firm. We have assurance and tax, advisory and transactions. If someone is rotating off from the assurance practice, then we're going to want to make sure that we have representation from that assurance service line on our committee. We would look to appoint another leader from assurance, for example. This is a very specific example, to make it tangible. The way we go about securing committee members is through appointments by the top leaders in the firm.

NELSON: Does that include top leaders of the firm? Does it include the co-chairs? Or does it include folks outside of the co-chairs, chiming in to determine who gets placed on the committee?

RAMSEY: Carmine and Karyn (co-chairs) consult with other leaders in the firm to get representation on the committee.

NELSON: Does the committee set specific diversity policy or goals for the entire firm? And if so, explain how. And secondly, do they set policies and goals for individual countries?

RAMSEY: The goals of the committee are rooted in our framework and approach to D&I mentioned earlier. So regardless of the starting point, which may vary by country or by practice, the goal is forward progress to create a more inclusive culture for all. Globally, we do have specific focus areas that are expected of all countries, all areas and all service lines. Additionally, the areas and what we call regions and the different practices in EY can also set additional specific focus areas and goals that are relevant in their market.

NELSON: So essentially, there is one overall goal firm-wide, and that is to continue forward progress. But when you drill down on a country-by-country basis, they may vary depending on how far along that country is with that particular objective. Does that sound correct?

RAMSEY: Yes, and there are specific focus areas that are expected of all countries, areas and service lines. I can give you an example of one. At a global level, and where we have measurable data, for example, women globally, one of those focus areas is to eliminate differential with respect to engagement, retention, et cetera. But then, for example, in another area, market or country, there might be additional objectives added to those focus areas.

NELSON: Is compensation tied to committee goals?

ANDREA RAMSEY: EY's partners are compensated annually based on the evaluations of performance goals that are set at the beginning of each of our fiscal years and on their contributions to the partnership. Partners and principles are evaluated against set goals related, but not limited to, exceptional client service, sales and growth, quality and risk management, people and operational excellence, all of which include elements of diversity and inclusiveness.

NELSON: Can you talk about some challenges that the committee has faced and how the committee has addressed those challenges? Can you give one or two examples?

RAMSEY: We're a diverse committee by design. And because of that, we face challenges that often occur with cross-cultural, cross-border and often virtual groups. So, as a D&I committee, we're very deliberate in creating a collaborative and inclusive committee culture.

One example is sharing agendas and pre-read materials well in advance, to be mindful of differing English language abilities, different cultural and individual differences about how much contact and prep time some people want. We also solicit perspectives and input from everyone, not just those who may be the most likely to speak up on the call. We do this through one-on-one outreach to make sure we hear voices from all the different aspects of our business and all different parts of the world. We do this by providing a lot of different platforms for people to provide input and share. Some people are going to be more comfortable sharing freely on a call that we might have. Others might be much more comfortable sharing in an email or in a one-on-one conversation. We've also done input surveys, so that we can provide that variety in the platform.

ANAND: Another challenge is time zones, given that we've got people located in 20 different cities around the world. There tends to be no perfect time to have discussions. To try to manage this, we do at least one face-to-face meeting a year. We've decided that the benefits of having a truly global committee outweigh the cost of a few hours of sleep. And we're all passionate about the firm and D&I. So what we're really trying to do with this committee is identify the D&I challenges, collaborate with solutions, and ultimately impact positive change so we can cascade it through our local regions. That's why we needed to have such a diverse group of folks, both in background and geographies and experiences.

NELSON: Can you give us some examples of how the committee has positively impacted the firm's business internally or externally?

RAMSEY: The committee works to identify and address D&I "hot spots," really challenge the status quo, and put what we call levers into practice that can drive more equitable outcomes.

For example, one of the levers we are very focused on putting in place for advancing underrepresented talent is sponsorship. Since we are an EY D&I committee, our focus is specifically on equitable sponsorship for underrepresented talent. So for example, globally, this includes women in various different markets. It may include ethnic minorities, people with diverse abilities. That's where the local relevance comes in.

Our committee members take these levers and these concepts like equitable sponsorship and then put it into action in locally relevant ways so that they can make a difference in their market and move up the continuum.

ANAND: We all know sponsorship is very important for success. We have a partner pipeline program called Global NextGen. It identifies top talent, women and men, and gives them access to a network of senior leaders and potential sponsors, plus a broad range of development opportunities to help them build their skills and characteristics to become leaders.

In addition, there are a number of locally based initiatives that offer leadership opportunities. Another program we developed is a board of directors program, which provides a personalized board of director for our senior managers who are candidates to get to partner. The senior managers are underrepresented in our market and so the board of directors works to ensure that they are receiving the optimal assignments, visibility, and coaching to achieve their full potential.

We have to be deliberate about sponsoring across differences. And sometimes, sponsoring is not done equitably, so having these types of program helps us ensure that all of our people are receiving the opportunities to get sponsorships.

One of the things that we discuss in the committee is mentorship and sponsorship. And they're both very important. We want to make sure that our people have opportunities to have mentors as well as sponsors that can help them achieve their full potential.

NELSON: Sure, I understand that. That’s very good, internally. Do you have an external example of how the committee was able to positively impact business with a client or a service line or something in that capacity?

ANAND: Sure, I can talk about personally. We've collaborated with many leading companies in the Bay Area around D&I. We've done things around hosting roundtables, Asian leaderships. We've collaborated with a company around their disabilities conference, as well as a lot of collaboration around women. From our standpoint, it helps us build good relationships in the market as well as really help the cause of D&I. And this is something that all the leading companies are really passionate about, and it's a good way for us to be part of the network and solution.

RAMSEY: So we just recently had one of our global D&I committee calls, and we had a great example come from one of our committee members who is based in the Africa market, specifically in South Africa. Our members were all sharing with each other local updates and progress on personal action commitments because each of our committee members make very personal action commitments as leaders.

The committee member gave us a really great update about how he has been inspired to now personally become a sponsor for the LGBT agenda in the South Africa market. You know as well as we do that LGBT can be a very complicated topic, particularly in some markets in Africa. The laws vary so much from country to country and can be quite prohibitive in some places.

So, this EY D&I committee member personally took on the executive sponsor role to create what we call unity with our LGBT professional network, to create a chapter in South Africa. It's providing not only opportunities for connection among our EY people, but also connection for our EY people in the marketplace as well with other companies, with clients who are really also progressive and doing things with respect to D&I and LGBT.

NELSON: That’s great.

RAMSEY: It's this combination of global alignment, combined with the local perspective, and then this strong personal leadership, is what we're finding really delivers meaningful and sustainable progress.


Web Seminar: Executive Diversity Councils With Wyndham Worldwide, Cox Communications, Toyota

How should you structure your council? What roles should your CEO and your chief diversity officer play? What metrics should you use to measure success?


Please click on the play button to start the presentation. Click on the full-screen button in the upper-right corner of the player (the two arrows) to increase the size of the presentation.

Click here to view the PDF presentation of this Web Seminar.

Lee, Hundley, Green

Patricia Lee, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, Wyndham Worldwide; Lissiah Hundley, Executive Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Cox Communications; and Dana Green, National Manager, Corporate Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America, share best practices on Executive Diversity Councils. Areas covered include: starting a council, council structure, CEO involvement, metrics, accountability factors including linking compensation to results, role of chief diversity officer.

*DiversityInc Web Seminar content may not be shared or reproduced. Downloads of the presentation are available for purchase at DiversityInc.com.

VIDEO: 2014 Top Company for Diversity Councils: EY

Stephen Howe, Americas and U.S. Firm Managing Partner, told DiversityInc’s audience why co-chairing the Diversity Council is important to him personally – and to the firm’s success.


Top Company for Diversity Councils: EY

Accepting Award: Stephen Howe Jr., Americas Managing Partner and U.S. Firm Managing Partner

Reasons for Honor:

Leaders leading by example can make all the difference when it comes to demonstrating diversity commitment. The EY diversity council meets quarterly, sets corporate diversity-and-inclusion goals, and links those goals to compensation. Council members, all of whom are partners, represent different areas of expertise and demographics. They all serve as mentors, and they have two-year rotations that can be extended if they are making a significant impact.

The council is co-chaired by Steve Howe, Americas Managing Partner and U.S. Firm Managing Partner, and Karyn Twaronite, Partner and Americas Inclusiveness Officer.

Demonstrating his commitment to the importance of diversity and inclusion at EY, it is no surprise that Steve Howe has said, “My job is to run the business. This is fundamental to our business.”

VIDEO: How to Build Advocacy for D&I With Toyota Financial Services

Toyota Financial Services President and CEO Mike Groff demonstrated how top leadership drives diversity initiatives as he inspired an audience of corporate leaders at DiversityInc's October event.


Mike Groff

President and CEO

Toyota Financial Services

Michael Groff is President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Financial Services (TFS), overseeing all operational and financial activities in the United States.

Groff joined Toyota in 1983, and has held a variety of positions in sales, marketing, customer service, strategy and commercial finance.

In addition to his TFS responsibilities, Groff is also a National Trustee for the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Groff received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton and earned a Master's degree in Business Administration from Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

Meeting in a Box: Executive Diversity Councils

What are the three main areas that produce human-capital and supplier-diversity results when it comes to executive diversity councils?


This Meeting in a Box tool is designed for distribution to D&I staff, HR staff, legal staff, diversity-council members and employee-resource-group leaders. You may use portions of it or all of it. Each section is available as a separate PDF; you can forward the entire document or link to it on DiversityInc Best Practices; or you can print it out for employees who do not have Internet access.

This month, we are giving you the latest trends, data, how-to’s and best practices on executive diversity councils. We’ll show you the three main areas that produce human-capital and supplier-diversity results—top executive involvement, accountability through metrics and goals, and communications. For more on executive diversity councils, please see our recent Web Seminar on Executive Diversity Councils with Wyndham Worldwide, Cox Communications and Toyota. If you don’t yet have an executive diversity council, please see How to Start an Executive Diversity Council.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

I. Top Executive Involvement

Fifty-two percent of the CEOs in the DiversityInc Top 50 personally chair their executive diversity councils, more than double the percentage in 2008. The DiversityInc Best Practices story 5 Reasons Your CEO Should Chair Your Diversity Council was one of the most-read stories of the year. The CEOs in the story were clear about how they wanted—and needed—to lead this council.

“My job is to run the business. This is fundamental to our business,” says Stephen R. Howe, Americas Managing Partner at EY. And in discussing Randall Stephenson, Chairman and CEO of AT&T, a top manager says, “Randall said this was important and that we need to pay attention to it.”

The presence of the CEO at the helm of the council sends a clear message to the entire company—and to external stakeholders such as clients and suppliers—that diversity and inclusion is critical to the business goals of the company. For executives, having the CEO and senior leaders at the helm ensures they make D&I a priority.

But even if your council is chaired by a direct report to the CEO, what matters is that your senior executives are really involved and connect the council’s work directly to their business goals with metrics and accountability.

Guided Questions for Staff

How involved is your CEO and your senior leadership in your D&I efforts and your executive diversity council?

If they are not directly involved, what business imperatives could convince them of the value of getting more involved? If they do lead your executive diversity council, is this clear to everyone in the company?

How frequently does your executive diversity council meet?

The most effective councils meet at least quarterly. Most meetings are in person, but they also can be conducted virtually. If there are concerns or challenges not being addressed, councils can meet more frequently.

How often does your diversity-and-inclusion staff, especially your chief diversity officer, present to the executive diversity council?

At most DiversityInc Top 50 companies, the chief diversity officer and the diversity-and-inclusion staff present on a regular basis to the executive diversity council and are responsible for keeping council members informed.


II. Accountability: Metrics and Goals

Eighty-six percent of DiversityInc Top 50 companies have their executive diversity council set D&I goals and metrics for the organization, up from 54 percent five years ago. And 52 percent link those goals to executive compensation, up from 22 percent five years ago.

Those goals usually are set companywide for such factors as recruitment, retention, engagement and promotion of underrepresented groups (Blacks, Latinos, Asians, American Indians, women in management or untraditional jobs, LGBT people, people with disabilities and veterans), supplier diversity, and factors such as employee-resource-group or cross-cultural-mentoring participation.

When linking these goals to council members’ compensation, companies usually include them in performance reviews and/or make them part of bonuses. Most but not all councils make overall corporate goals, such as those described above, half of the discretionary compensation for an executive, with the other half tied to individual goals (such as serving as executive sponsor of a resource group, being a cross-cultural mentor).

The most important aspect of the council’s setting goals and holding executives accountable for those goals is that this causes specific action at the companies and creates forward momentum linked to business goals. Councils that are merely “advisory” and just listen to what diversity-and-inclusion plans are in the works accomplish little or nothing.

Corporate-wide goals are usually presented to executive diversity councils in scorecards that must be clear, simple and focused on big-picture items for these senior executives. See What Makes a Good Diversity Scorecard/Dashboard?

Guided Questions for Staff

What types of goals are of greatest need at your company?

As you examine your DiversityInc Top 50 report card (free to all companies filling out the survey), see which areas represent the most opportunity and whether your council’s goals match with those. How are those goals presented to senior executives?

How are executives compensated for diversity success at your company?

It doesn’t really matter if the compensation for results is in the form of bonuses, raises, promotions or part of performance reviews as every corporate culture is different. What is important is that diversity-and-inclusion goals are as important as other business goals.

Does your CEO sign off on these goals?

Personal involvement of the CEO is essential to everyone, especially senior executives, getting on board with these goals. All DiversityInc Top 50 CEOs sign off on diversity-management goals, which usually include supplier diversity.


III. Communications

Once a council is effectively in place, communicating its overall strategic goals, their importance to the business, and the visible inclusion of senior executives is vital. The most successful means of communicating this is usually through regular business channels—intranet, videos and business meetings internally and Internet, social media and outward-facing meetings externally.

Guided Questions for Staff

How often do your corporate leaders include diversity and inclusion in their communications?

Is the connection between D&I and business success constantly made? Does the messaging from your senior leadership contain clear and business-like language or platitudes like “It’s the right thing to do”?

How well does your diversity staff work with your corporate-communications staff?

This relationship can either be the undoing of your D&I efforts or a vital way to increase their success. It’s important that your corporate-communications staffers understand the value of D&I and that your senior executives and executive diversity council are leading the effort.

Is your language culturally competent?

Make sure that the language your council, your resource groups and your communications staff use is always inclusive. Check out our Things NOT to Say series for common mistakes.


[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and DiversityInc Best Practices subscribers.]

What Makes a Good Diversity Scorecard/Dashboard?

Sodexo, Monsanto, Nielsen and General Motors share best practices on the use of scorecards and/or dashboards to measure diversity progress.


Best Practices From Sodexo, Monsanto, Nielsen and General Motors

By Barbara Frankel

For an example of a diversity dashboard from Monsanto, click here.

Diversity scorecards used to be all about representation. They would measure gender and racial percentages for the workforce, management and top executives. And that was it.

Today’s successful scorecards and dashboards, like today’s diversity-management initiatives, link directly to business strategies and include more relevant variables, such as supplier diversity, engagement, retention, talent development and contributions to market growth.

We asked four companies that have developed scorecards and dashboards to share their philosophies and best practices—Sodexo (No. 2 in the DiversityInc Top 50), Monsanto (No. 46), Nielsen (No. 50), and General Motors, one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies.

Difference Between Dashboard and Scorecard

Before we share their best practices, let’s clear up terminology confusion at many companies—what’s a diversity scorecard and what’s a diversity dashboard?

Although many companies use the two terms interchangeably, there really is a difference. A scorecard is a report that displays Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with performance targets. A dashboard shows scorecard information with other related items, such as reports, charts and grids. Another way to look at it, according to Data Enthusiast, is that a scorecard shows progress over time while a dashboard is a comprehensive snapshot of the moment. Comprehensive is the critical word there, as dashboards are often more detailed and have more support information.

Best Practices for Diversity Scorecards/Dashboards

• Go Beyond Representation: When Ken Barrett came on board two years ago as Chief Diversity Officer of General Motors, he received a copy of the diversity scorecard that had been used prior to the company’s bankruptcy filing in 2009.


“I was a little bit concerned that we were just measuring executive representation and not everything that was impactful [to the senior management],” he says.

His current scorecard focuses on talent acquisition and talent development, with emphasis on key levels for new hires, managers and senior executives. Particular emphasis is put on new hires and high-potentials with a U.S. focus on race/ethnicity and gender, and a global focus on gender.

The scorecard also includes supplier-diversity results, which are reported on a quarterly basis to the Supplier Diversity Council and focus on minority-, women- and veteran-owned suppliers. Additionally, targets for increasing minority- and women-owned dealerships are set each year, with an overall five-year plan in mind.

Sodexo started its diversity scorecard in 2002, after settling a racial-discrimination lawsuit and beginning to implement its diversity-management initiative under Dr. Rohini Anand, now Senior Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer. The scorecard is reviewed annually and is often changed as business goals change, says Chad Johnson, Director, EEO/AA & Diversity Analytics and Systems.

“Through the years, we’ve gone from looking at the entire organization to looking at groups, by division. … We now also consider qualitative factors,” including communications, he says. “The diversity part is hardline numbers: hires, promotions, etc. … The inclusion part still has a quantitative feel to it.”

Angela Talton, Senior Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Nielsen, worked collaboratively to create a scorecard when she moved into her role two years ago. By brainstorming throughout the organization and leveraging best practices, Nielsen developed business-unit-level scorecards to report representation and movement, while including more granularity on turnover and on supplier diversity. More recently, Nielsen has added global reporting of gender by band and level.

“The scorecard is a conversation starter, a tool used to engage leaders in a conversation about internally reflecting the clients and communities we serve,” she says. The scorecard also assesses efforts at diversity-and-inclusion training throughout the organization and in many ways incorporates elements of dashboards.


At Monsanto, the scorecard really is a measure of progress, says Melissa Harper, Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion. Monsanto began its metrics about 10 years ago. “We were clear that metrics as a core competency was going to be the foundation driving inclusion and better transparency,” she says. Over time, the metrics focused on hiring percentages, voluntary turnover rate and promotions into management. Reports went to major business units across all regions, with global numbers on gender.

• Ensure Senior Leaders Are Accountable for Results: A scorecard isn’t effective if the business leaders (CEO and direct reports) aren’t seeing it and using it to further business goals. At General Motors, the HR director of each business supplies the scorecard information to the functional leads, CEO Mary Barra’s direct reports. Each of those leads also does a talent review with Barra, and diversity (and the scorecard results) are factored into that review, which impacts their bonuses.

At Sodexo, the diversity scorecard factors into senior executives’ year-end bonuses. Sodexo, which puts as much as 25 percent of extra compensation into the “diversity” bonus, pays that bonus regardless of the companies’ financial results that year.

Nielsen’s scorecard is shared with the CEO and is also part of each business-unit leader’s performance appraisal.

Monsanto reviews its dashboard with its board of directors twice a year, and with Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant and his direct reports at periodic meetings with the HR leadership team and the executive D&I council.

• Don’t Ignore Groups Less Easy to Count: The elephants in the room with diversity data continue to be LGBT people and people with disabilities, since it is difficult for companies to get an accurate count for both those demographics. Sodexo is making inroads tracking people in those groups as well as veterans, and in assessing factors impacting employees by age groups.

• Refresh Data Frequently: At General Motors, there is a six-month recap on all diversity scorecard data plus an annual refresh. Data on new hires are reviewed quarterly.


Nielsen’s data are also updated quarterly and include percentage increases/decreases to show progress.

• Keep It Simple: Especially when dealing with senior executives, complicated scorecards with mind-numbing details won’t be effective, as these busy leaders don’t have time to go through all the data. Sodexo’s scorecard has a clear executive-summary page showing the bottom line on hiring, promotion and retention, with a heat map for each business unit showing progress or challenges.

As Johnson notes, this enables the company to pinpoint diversity-management areas that are part of the solution. For example, if a year-to-year comparison showed a drop in promotions, more emphasis in the scorecard would be placed on mentoring efforts, which yield more promotions.

• Share the Knowledge: Monsanto actually has created an automated dashboard that enables HR staff globally to assess its data to use for talent strategies, succession planning and people reviews. Of all of Monsanto’s human-capital dashboards, the diversity dashboard is among the top three accessed, Harper says.

Each manager receives a diversity indicator of factors including headcount shift, hiring, promotions, promotions into management and flow of talent (attrition rates) in a heat map “to make it pretty simplistic.”

• Use the Scorecard to Forecast: Sodexo’s Johnson advises companies to be predictive. “We’re not just telling the organization what happened. By the time we report everything out, it’s all history. This is the Holy Grail. We need to assess if we are going to hit the benchmarks that we’re looking to achieve and how to get there,” he says.

Developing Future Leaders Through Your Executive Diversity Council

This panel discussion from the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Learning Sessions will give you insights into how to develop future leaders through your executive diversity council.


EY, Wyndham Worldwide and TD Bank are exceptional at utilizing their executive diversity councils to effectively manage diversity and inclusion. The councils set and implement D&I strategy and hold the organizations accountable for results, but they also serve as conduits for development of future leaders.

This panel discussion from the 2017 DiversityInc Top 50 Learning Sessions will give you insights into how to develop future leaders through your executive diversity council.


  • Karyn Twaronite, Partner, Global and Americas Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer, EY
  • Patricia Lee, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Chief Diversity Officer, Wyndham Worldwide
  • Allen Love, EVP, BSA Officer/Deputy Global AML Officer U.S., TD Bank
  • Moderator: Luke Visconti, Founder and CEO, DiversityInc


Career Advice on Handling Unconscious Bias

Executives from TD Bank and Monsanto collaborate to help us understand what unconscious bias is, how and why it exists, and how to address it from both an individual and organizational standpoint. The webinar concludes with almost 20 minutes of Q&A.


The Differences Between Mentoring and Sponsorship

Randy Cobb, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Southern Company and Matthew Hanzlik, Program Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Nielsen talk about the differences between mentoring and sponsoring and give insights into how their companies leverage each.