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Diverse Tech Talent Not Banging Down Your Door?

Companies that want to attract and retain women and minorities for technical positions need to focus on branding and unconscious bias.


Companies that want to attract and retain women and minorities for technical positions need to focus on branding and unconscious bias.

By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio

A recent study released by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded a long-held belief regarding the tech industry: it still lags in diversity, for both gender and race.

The gender gap for executives remains persistent, with 80 percent of high tech executives being men and just 20 percent women.

This comes despite another study showing that eighth-grade girls outperform their male peers when it comes to technology and engineering.

So how can companies do their part to effectively recruit and retain this still underrepresented talent — and potentially apply it to recruiting all underrepresented groups? Below we offer best practices culled from recent panel discussions at DiversityInc’s Top 50 event earlier this year.

Here’s a video of a recent panel titled Recruiting Strategies for Women in Technical Roles:

These five best practices will boost your organizations efforts:

  1. Be authentic in presenting your company brand. When recruiting talent, potential candidates should see and hear an inclusive message, one that is actually part of your company culture.

Companies “have to be speaking from the same voice” when it comes to messaging and branding, explained Kaley Gagnon, executive director, College Recruiting, AT&T (No. 4 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity).

The inclusive message a company sends to customers, she continued, has to jibe with what it’s sending to employees and what those employees experience when they come to work for you.

Rita Mitjans, chief diversity & corporate social responsibility officer, ADP (No. 21 on the list) agreed.

“I think it’s about authenticity and about making sure that your brand, in fact, reflects not just the story we want to tell, but the reality of the situation,” she said. She also said that leaders in different locations may not all act the same way, so it’s important to hold leaders accountable to living up to the company’s brand.

“Your employment brand is your front door,” said Michael L. Cox, senior vice president of talent acquisition, Comcast NBCUniversal (No. 29). “That lets people know if they’re going to be welcome into your home, welcome into your company.”

  1. What’s worked in the past may not work now. Companies have different needs than they used to, and in turn, recruiting strategies may need to be modified. With such a focus on technology in nearly all industries today, it is crucial that all companies know how to recruit for technical positions.

Cox pointed to methods of nontraditional recruiting, outlined by Patti Lee, senior vice president, human resources, chief diversity officer, Wyndham Worldwide (No. 27).

According to Cox, “Everyone in this room is responsible for recruiting diverse talent to our organizations, and we play a role in it every day.”

One way to recruit is through strategic partnerships.

ADP, Mitjans said, uses partnerships as a key element in developing ADP’s pipeline. And when developing partnerships, it’s important to make an active relationship.

“It’s not just writing a check, it’s engaging with them at their conferences and events, it’s showcasing your people at those conferences, and leveraging their membership base for help,” Mitjans shared. ADP has recently partnered with the Anita Borg Institute (ABI) and Women in Techology International (WITI).

  1. Be aware of unconscious bias; use data to see if it’s going on in your company. Lissiah Hundley, diversity & inclusion strategist, Cox Enterprises, discussed unconscious bias at the Top 50 learning session in her presentation, and the panelists all agreed how important it is to address that subject.

View Hundley’s full talk here.

According to Cox, this bias “exists whether we know it or not.”

“To dissuade that, we make sure the tone starts at the top,” Cox shared. For instance, if a leadership meeting contains no women, it is up to the men in the room to be a voice for the women. However, he noted, it is also vital that the women make sure the men know what their voice is.

Gagley emphasized the importance of having “courageous conversations” to address these uncomfortable topics. She said she had recently met a 19-year-old college student who was hesitant to ask her professors or peers about maternity leave “because the men don’t understand as much.”

“I said, ‘Then we need to have that conversation,’” Gagley recalled, “and being able to be open and courageous about those questions can really drive that forward.”

Mitjans called data the “catalyst” for having these conversations. She suggested looking at “patterns” in data on hiring, promotions and succession planning.

“At the very least, you should have equal representation in your succession planning for gender, as an example,” she continued. “And if it’s not there, then you should start asking questions why, and start digging deeper as to why.”

When backed with data, she said, people are less likely to feel defensive about the results because the facts are there.

  1. Always carry a voice for underrepresented groups, even when they aren’t in the room. In relation to unconscious bias, make sure someone in the room speaks on behalf of underrepresented employees. If these employees are confident their best interests are in mind even when they are not in the room to assert them personally, this reflects trust within the company.

Cox, Mitjans and Gagnon all spoke about the LGBT community, but the advice they gave could be applied to the recruitment and retention of all underrepresented groups, including women.

Cox spoke about LGBT, specifically transgender, employees, and stressed how important it is at Comcast NBCUniversal that “when that voice isn’t at the table, [we make] sure that we carry that voice.”

ADP leverages PRIDE, the company’s LGBT Employee Resource Group (ERG), for help on how to best recruit and communicate with LGBT candidates, Mitjans shared.

Gagnon said that “being supportive and listening … and continuing to adapt our policies accordingly” is also crucial.

  1. Create diverse opportunities for your employees. Gagnon stressed that at AT&T, one belief is, “You come for the work, you stay for the people.”

A company that has a diverse customer or client base leads to a need for diverse employees to connect with them. This in turn develops chances for workers to express their uniqueness through creating different projects and taking on different tasks.

By having these opportunities, a big company can feel like a small company, Gagnon explained, and may function like a family or community. But it all starts with having a diverse workforce because the opportunities come from a combination of what the company has to offer the employee and what unique skills the employee brings to the job.

Gagnon also suggested exposing employees to mentoring circles. This provides the opportunity for employees to advance their careers with the help of those who have already been in their shoes.

Recruiting Millennials With Purposeful Work

AT&T’s college recruiting leader offers tips on recruiting millennials and how to choose schools to recruit from.


AT&T’s college recruiting leader offers tips on recruiting millennials and how to choose schools to recruit from.


By Eve Tahmincioglu

Nancy Dominguez, an AT&T intern

Successfully recruiting millennials, also known as members of Gen Y, is all about providing them with opportunities to do meaningful work. That’s what Kaley Gagnon, AT&T’s executive director of college recruiting, has found sets her company apart.

(AT&T is No. 4 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.)

One example of how AT&T does that is letting interns run with their own ideas to create products. A case in point, Gagnon explained, is an intern who wanted to create technology to sense if a child or a pet was in a hot car. “We said, ‘Go for it,’” she recalled.

The intern, Nancy Dominguez, created the prototype, and her story is now featured on the AT&T careers page under the headline, “AT&T Intern’s Invention Will Help Save Lives.”

"When the idea first popped into my head, I sent an email explaining the idea," Dominguez said. "I didn't expect them to say, 'I like that. Let's start working on it.'"

Kaley Gagnon, AT&T

AT&T is able to find bright young employees like Dominguez, Gagnon said, because they laser focus their college recruitment efforts. “You have to be strategic,” she explained about picking the right universities. “We can’t be at every single one of them.”

The two top reasons for picking a particular school, she said, are:

  • Geographic proximity to the jobs being offered
  • Degree programs that align with the skillsets needed

Gagnon said AT&T doesn’t recruit from a campus without doing thorough research, spending time on campus and talking to students. The key is “making sure there is a match,” she stressed.

Check out our Diversity in Minutes conversation with Gagnon, where she provides college recruiting best practices.

Work-Life’s a Big Issue For EY’s Global Workforce

Millennials globally are leading the way in desire for more work flexibility, and EY's D&I chief offers tips on making it happen.


Millennials are leading the way in desire for more work flexibility, and EY's D&I chief offers tips on making it happen.

By Sheryl Estrada

The need for flexibility at work is often seen as a U.S. and UK phenomenon, but it’s actually a global issue.

It’s a desire EY, No. 3 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity, sees in every country where it has employees.

“We did do a survey this past year, which validated the fact that flexibility is the new norm across many countries around the world and the need for that in order to sustain business,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY’s Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer.

Karyn Twaronite

While flexibility, she continued, is important to all generations, it is millennials, in particular, who are looking for more work-life fit. The ability to have flextime is pretty significant for 20-somethings and it’s right up there with pay and advancement.

“Three of the six reasons millennials say why they would quit their job is based on flexibility issues. They’re either working too many hours or they don’t have a manager or team that allows them to flex,” she explained.

Part of what may be driving this, is that millennials as a group are one-and-a-half times more likely than Baby Boomers to be a part of dual career partnerships and families.

“Seventy-eight percent of the millennials in our survey are part of dual career,” Twaronite pointed out. “That’s a big shift and a big stress on the system. And if you work for a Baby Boomer, or a boomer organization that has boomer-type policies, you can easily see where there would be a potential empathy gap.”

And these dual career couples are largely two people working full time, not one or both working part time. “That’s a dynamic shift when almost 80 percent of your work place has that need; companies really need to stay on top of these things. And what does that mean? Does that mean that people need to work less?,” she asked.

Twaronite offered her take on ways to make work flex work.

Implement scheduling tweaks. At EY they discovered most of the flexibility needs involve employees wanting to have a little predictability and control at times; for example, the need to be able to commute slightly differently.

“Something like a 15-30 minute change is all that a team member or colleague might need,” she said. “Now that’s a relatively inexpensive fix, right? But that’s huge to a family to be able to accommodate that.”

Offer time off during the day. In regards to performing in a global environment, employees and managers, millennials included, are being asked to work across multiple time zones, manage teams that work across multiple time zones and handle customer matters at all hours of the day. Twaronite said that although that might sound like a bur- den, it’s also very exciting. However, there has to be some give back from a company to make that sustainable.

“So, that might mean you take off at 3 o’clock to go to a child’s game,” Twaronite explained. “Or you want to attend a yoga class at 5 o’clock. This is something that might have been unheard of 10 years ago. But now it’s a way to sustain holistic wellness in order to sustain work in a global environment.”

Make work-life transparent. “One of the most important engagement questions that we ask all of our 215,000 people every year, and we measure our leaders upon, is, ‘Do I feel free to be myself at work everyday?’” she said. “That’s a very important question for diversity and inclusiveness and for authenticity and transparency.”

During Twaronite’s long career at EY, she has always gotten encouragement to be herself. In a sense, she noted, “EY has always been a part of my family, and my family has always been a part of EY.”

“I’ve worked here through making partner and having children. I have a full-time working spouse in financial services as well, and we have a busy life.”

When her son was an infant, he would sometimes travel with her and her work colleagues at times, so they got to know each other. “My home life was very transparent. And I was still able to accomplish a significant amount. Many of my work colleagues are my closest friends. [Many colleagues visit] my home and have been for many years, including bosses and team members. That’s also been very important in my son’s comfort level.

“There’s something very appealing to a child to also have seen the transparency and authenticity to know that EY is a part of my life and that my EY colleagues and teammates are also my friends,” Twaronite said. “That transparency has helped a lot.”


Companies, Entertainers Pressure Govs to Overturn Gay-Bashing Laws

Employers take a stand against biased laws to bolster recruitment and retention of top talent, especially among younger employees.


Employers take a stand against biased laws to bolster recruitment, retention of top talent, especially among younger employees. Celebrities stand up against the injustices as well.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

The movement of some states to pass anti-LGBT laws, most recently in Mississippi and North Carolina, is in the bull’s-eye of a growing corporate coalition and key entertainers.

IBM (No. 22 on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity) took to Twitter last week to make a public statement against the latest unjust foray, this time by Mississippi with legislation allowing people or organizations who have a religious reason for bigotry against LGBT individuals to deny services to them. @IBMPolicy — IBM’s official government and regulatory affairs Twitter account tweet -- singled out Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, saying it was "disappointed" that he signed the legislation.

And beyond the corporate world, A-List entertainers were also following suit. Bruce Springsteen cancelled his band's concert Friday in North Carolina, and Canadian singer Bryan Adams nixed his gig in Mississippi.

Springsteen wrote on his website:

"Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters."

While it's not unusual for musicians to take political stands, corporate activism like this appears to be catching on as well.

It's a manifestation of the drive to get the top talent, a desire buoyed when companies are on the right side of social justice issues. Clearly, efforts to recruit and retain the best of the best employees to states that pass homophobic laws can be hampered, especially among millennials.

Members of Gen Y are among the most liberal when it comes to LGBT rights. Nearly 75 percent of millennials favor legal recognition of same-gender marriage, according to a Pew Research Center study released in June 2015. That compares to 59 percent among Gen Xers and 45 percent among Baby Boomers.

Millennials take their values to work, with 61 percent saying they are motivated to work for companies that align with their personal values, found a report by the Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers and Net Impact. And a global study by Deloitte (No. 12) reported 56 percent of Gen Y-ers have “ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.”

Business leaders know that “discrimination is bad for business,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). That statement is one in a series the organization put out recently about a growing list of companies that have signed on to urge states to rethink discriminatory laws.

Indeed, taking a public stance against anti-LGBT crusades makes sense for many of the most diverse companies in the country looking to find the best people.

“IBM stands by and stands up for its values,” said Laurie Friedman, a spokeswoman for the company

IBM is just one of many DiversityInc Top 50 companies that have taken such a bold stand against discriminatory tactics popping up around the country.

Other DiversityInc Top 50 Companies signed onto HRC’s letter, including the CEOs from Northrop Grumman (No. 35), Hilton Worldwide (No. 47) and Kellogg Company (No. 26).

Last month in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal announced he planned to veto a proposed “anti-LGBT” bill he had intended to sign, following pressure from various U.S. corporations, including Marriott International (No. 13), IBM, The Walt Disney Company (No. 34) and Time Warner (No. 41), which threatened to take their business elsewhere.

And Toyota Motor North America (No. 36), an employer of 2,000 people at a Mississippi plant, was one of a handful of companies in the state raising concerns about legislation there, according to a story in the Mississippi Business Journal.

Another Top 50 company has been at the forefront of the corporate groundswell of opposition, Eli Lilly and Company (No. 24), with its opposition to the Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed in 2015.

Lilly, No. 24 on the list, was joined by Cummins (No. 21) and Anthem (No. 23), all of which encouraged lawmakers to include language in the legislation barring any discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Why do this?

“Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is critical for Lilly to achieve its mission of making medicines that help people live longer, healthier, more active lives,” said Janice Chavers, director of diversity and human resources communications for Lilly.

Lilly’s fight goes beyond just this legislation.

Controversy over the Act shined light on the reality that Indiana and about 30 other states have no civil rights protections for LGBT individuals, so the company, along with other businesses, plans on advocating for a law to provide those protections.

“We believe that many people will not come to the state if our civil rights laws are not protective of all people,” she explained. “The backlash the state received when the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed is indicative of that.”




KeyBank Works to Bring Generations Together

How KeyBank is finding common ground between the "we want it now" generation and the "shut-up and deal with it" older generations.

How KeyBank is finding common ground between the "we want it now" generation and the "shut-up and deal with it" older generations.

By Tamika Cody

How do you bridge the communications gap between Millennials, Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers?

Kim Manigault, CFO of KeyBank’s technology and operations division, recently created a feedback program to help the three generations come together. The program, Straight Talk, encourages constructive observation instead of complaints.

The goal is to get the three groups to see that they all are actually asking for the same things.

  Kim Manigault

The Millennials she works with are not afraid to tell their employers what they think or what they would like to have. “And they don’t have a problem empowering themselves to make the change,” she said. However, before Millennials reveal how vocal they can be, she said they want to be assured that it is okay to speak up in a corporate environment.

“Our Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers believe that Millennials just want too much,” Manigault said. “What I’ve realized is they all want the same thing; the only difference is that [Millennials] are not afraid to ask for it. Gen X and Gen Y come from the shut up and deal with it phase, and Millennials come from [the] if you don’t like it change it phase.”

Most Gen X-ers and Boomers are stuck in believing that there isn’t a way to change things.

“It’s like taxes and politics, you kind of have to just deal with it,” Manigault said. “Millennials don’t have to deal with it. They can get up and go. They say ‘I don’t have to stay for 20 plus years [in one job]. I can go somewhere else in six months.’”

How Straight Talk Works

In April, Manigault was tapped to be a diversity and inclusion champion for the finance team at Cleveland-based KeyBank, a subsidiary of KeyCorp (No. 49 on the DiversityInc Top 50). Soon after taking on the role, Manigault launched the program Straight Talk.

“It’s not a place to come and complain,” she stressed. “It’s a place to take ownership of making a change.”

To set the program in motion, Manigault and her team gathered groups of minorities, including people of diverse ethnicities and women, and asked the groups two specific questions.

  • What are your observations of what it’s like to be you in our environment?
  • What are you going to do to change it?

People usually want to share what’s wrong and then leave the problem for someone else to fix. But these questions require follow-up for the problems.

“You don’t get to the second question until you lay out the first question,” Manigault explained. And when asked the second question, employees tended to give generic responses.

“Our program is an outcome base, with the outcome being owned by the participants,” she said. “Everyone has these fireside chats, but ours is different. Ours isn’t about just having a conversation and walking away and feeling good that you shared how you feel and now somebody heard you.”

Instead, the program not only allows KeyBank employees to share how they feel but also lets them be responsible for making a change within the culture and the environment.

“If you’re looking for a place to whine, this is not that place,” Manigault reemphasized. “He who has the complaint is required to offer a constructive recommendation. We empower ourselves to own the evolution of our environment that we are a part of. And that’s what our Straight Talk discussions are about.”

So far, Straight Talk, which also provides mentoring and coaching sessions, has been quite successful at KeyBank.

The plan is to host quarterly sessions. Between each quarter, participants will be tasked with figuring out a plan to make the changes they would like to see take shape in the workplace.

“You’ve got to do the work, not just bring the thought,” she added.

Why STEM Majors Opt Out of STEM Careers

Almost three-quarters of those with STEM degrees in the U.S. choose other careers. How can corporations convince them to remain in the STEM field?


By Barbara Frankel

Not enough college students are choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors — but even many of those who do get STEM degrees are not employed in STEM occupations.

A U.S. Census Bureau report found 74 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees in a STEM topic opt for non-STEM careers. Engineering, math and statistics majors had the most graduates going into STEM occupations (about 50 percent) while only 26 percent of physical science majors and 15 percent of biological, environmental and agricultural sciences majors worked in STEM jobs.

Others find jobs as managers at non-STEM businesses (22.5 percent) or are pursuing careers in education (17.7 percent), business/finance (13.2 percent) and office support (11.5 percent).

So why, given a growing national and global need for STEM jobs, are these early careerists opting for other professions? Anthony Carnevale, Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, noted in a Washington Post interview that STEM degrees are becoming “universal degrees.”

He said graduates with STEM degrees pursue jobs in areas such as supply-chain management, quality control and inventory control — all fields that require technical expertise but are not considered STEM jobs.

Many are promoted into management early in their careers, no long qualifying as STEM workers. Jonathan Rothwell, a fellow of the Brookings Institute, said many STEM majors work in managerial jobs because “that’s the natural outgrowth of success in their field.”

Discrepancies for Women and Minorities 

Women, who remain severely under-represented in STEM jobs, are those most likely to pursue non-STEM jobs when they have STEM degrees, the Census Bureau and academic studies have found.

Liana Christian Landivar, a sociologist employed by the Census Bureau’s Industry and Occupation Statistics, notes that, “We have seen an increase in women employed in STEM occupations, but they are still underrepresented in engineering and computer occupations that make up more than 80% of STEM employment. … The statistics show that women are less likely to major in engineering and computer sciences, which may reduce their STEM employment options unless they go on to graduate school.”

A survey commissioned by the Bayer Corporation two years ago of 150 recruiters at Fortune 1000 companies found that more STEM than non-STEM jobs were being created, and only half of those corporate leaders polled could find qualified people with four-year STEM degrees. Just 16 percent saw good numbers of qualified STEM candidates for two- and four-year degrees who were Black, Latino or Native American.

Convincing STEM Majors to Take STEM Jobs

A number of corporations, including Accenture and IBM, Nos. 15 and 22, respectively, on the DiversityInc Top 50, are working to encourage students to pursue STEM careers, and other new initiatives are also being implemented to convince STEM majors to pursue careers in their chosen fields.

For example, the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation have started MentorLinks: Advancing Technical Education to help community colleges focus students on technical careers.

Many Top 50 corporations are exposing students early to STEM jobs as well as to the advantages of careers in these specific fields. A perfect example is EY’s Discover EY program, which brings Black, Latino and Native American college students to New York to spend time understanding how exciting accounting careers can be. EY is No. 4 on the DiversityInc Top 50.

Product Strategy: Embrace Diversity

Asheesh Saksena is strategically preparing Cox Communications for new growth opportunities while meeting the needs of a diverse consumer base and amplifying diverse voices within the company, including millennials.


By Sheryl Estrada

By embracing diversity you also embrace a changing consumer base.

That's a key part of how Asheesh Saksena,  Cox Communications' Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, sees his job.

Saksena recognizes the company must be open to adapting its products to attract a diverse clientele.

“As a country, we’re increasingly getting more diverse,” he explained. “And with that comes both opportunity and the responsibility. At Cox we are embracing the changing environment within. Our products are now being intentionally assessed for how are they adapting to the needs of a diverse customer base.”

Saksena also noted that, this year, the company is creating strategic partnerships with other like-minded companies, making Cox “more ready and relevant for a diverse workforce.”

A diverse customer base includes gender and race, as well as age groups. For example, Cox, No. 17 on DiversityInc's Top 50 list, is also targeting the Millennial population to offer them solutions. And, in regards to the diversity of its employees, the company is also focusing on meeting the needs of that coveted population.

“At the end of the day, what I’m trying to do is amplify the diverse voices that are within our company and bring those into a decision-making process,” Saksena added.

He and his team continue to think deeply about diversification and that Cox is a provider of different layers of services, including broadband services.

“We’re so excited about what we’re doing in our various markets because it is creating capabilities around broadband that offer new growth opportunities," he said. “It enables new ways for people and companies to live their lives and also fosters a new opportunity of growth for us.”

For example, Saksena said the company is dedicated to using broadband to provide healthcare solutions at home.

“Telemedicine and telehealth are becoming real,” he said. “So home health is an area of diversification that we are working on very actively.”

Prior to Cox, Saksena served as Deputy Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Vice President at Time Warner Cable (No. 41). He was also a partner at Accenture (No. 15), where he was responsible for strategy practice serving cable and wireless service providers.

When considering accepting his current position at Cox, Saksena, who has more than 20 years of experience working in strategy and operations in corporate America, assessed the team he would be working with was the important factor.

“The most important reason I joined Cox was for its people, and it’s amazing,” he said. During his interview process, he had the opportunity to meet and spend time with his team, including Pat Esser, President of Cox Communications, who he reports to.

He knew of Esser’s openness to different perspectives and knew his work would be valued and recognized, which contributed to his decision to join the company. “I knew the perspective I brought to [Esser’s] table may be right, or wrong, and he and my peers would help me see that over time,” he noted.

In his position at Cox, Saksena has had ample opportunity to do what he enjoys the most — making an impact.

“I’m at a place in a time where there are tremendous opportunities for me, my team, my company, to create a lasting impact, and that’s very exciting.”

Current Position

Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Cox Communications (No. 17 on The 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity)Previous Positions

Deputy Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Vice President at Time Warner Cable; partner at AccentureEducation

Mechanical Engineering degree from BITS, Pilani; M.B.A., University of Delhi’s Faculty of Management Studies

Millennials Sparking Change

Saksena is the Executive Sponsor of the Young Professionals Employee Resource Group (ERG) and leads Cox’s Millennial Council, Millennials Influencing Decision Making (MIND).

“I am truly beginning to understand what Cox will look like both within and around us in the future,” Saksena said. “What’s interesting is that you can pause and just see how the flow of social composition is expanding in front of you. And I have a point of view of what our workforce will look like in terms of its composition. I would not have learned this if I hadn’t stayed so tightly connected to all millennial diversity programs.”

Saksena plans to be prepared when the company of tomorrow “becomes more real.” He and his team are proactive in utilizing input from ERG and Millennial Council members. He is learning how Cox will need to adjust its policies and framework in order to remain relevant when “the environment around us begins to change.”




Millennials Put Low Value on High Salary

New studies are showing that what millennials want in a job comes as a surprise to some employers.


By Kaitlyn D’Onofrio

Photo by Shutterstock

This year, millennials (defined as people born between 1981 and 1997) became the largest generation in the American workforce, surpassing Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1980) for the first time. Since they now represent the majority of employees and potential hires, it is important for managers to be aware of what millennials value most in a job.

A recent study revealed that managers are not always in tune with what their younger employees desire, though. Nearly half of managers surveyed believe that high pay is the most important aspect of a job to millennials; however, only 27% of millennials actually feel this way. The top priority, at 30%, is meaningful work. While high pay came in second, number three was “sense of accomplishment” at 24%. For managers, meaningful work and sense of accomplishment both ranked 11%.

A Pew Research survey also confirmed that most millennials don’t consider high pay “extremely important” in a job – only 19% do. 50%, however, said a job they enjoy is definitely important to them. And when asked, “Which three benefits would you most value from an employer?” the top answer among millennials was, at 22%, training and development. Only four percent said they would give up their benefits for a higher salary.

What the results of each of these studies have in common is that millennials value their experiences at work more than how much they see in their paychecks, which differs greatly from how potential employers view them. The reason young professionals feel this way is probably because they are generally optimistic about the future. In fact, 53% of millennials say that while they don’t earn or have enough money for their future right now, they are confident they will by the time they retire.

In addition, millennials have been found to be statistically more liberal than previous generations – and these values carry over into their expectations at work. Studies have found that companies with reputations for making their viewpoints on certain issues known can more successfully recruit and retain millennial employees, rather than companies who do not make their stances known to the public: “Recruiting organizations attempt to attract workers by distinguishing themselves from other organizations … Pay and location are key factors but not all the factors. Research shows companies with higher [corporate social performance] are more attractive to recruits,” according to the study. If this kind of information was not readily accessible to young job seekers, they were more likely to speak negatively about other aspects of the company. With more members of the millennial than any other generation identifying as LGBT, it does not come as a surprise that they would want to work for a company they know supports their beliefs – and, possibly, their lifestyles.

A study about how millennials feel about technology at work also garnered some interesting results. Considered the most connected to social media and the Internet, members of this generation statistically have the most Facebook friends and have shared more “selfies” than other generations. However, they don’t always believe technology and professionalism mix: only 13% of millennials believe it’s okay to use a cell phone during a business meeting.

And it turns out that these values correspond with newfound information about social media networks in the workplace for all generations. A recent study analyzed the effectiveness of communicating over social media platforms instead of in person. According to the results, social networks can be a useful communication tool, but only if a foundation of openness and trust has already been built: “an open, supportive environment has to be established through traditional face-to-face communication before companies can expect opinions and ideas to be shared online.” Overall, employees feel that there are certain situations where it would not be appropriate to communicate online and they would prefer face-to-face contact.

When looking to hire new employees, it is vital for managers to understand the needs of potential workers. Sometimes these needs may come as a surprise, especially when the new hires will be members of a different generation. However, recruitment and retention are both compromised if managers are not in tune to what job seekers want.

What Keeps Millennials From Job-Hopping?

Recent SHRM research shows that the improved economy is making workers, especially Millennials, confident that they can move on easily. What are the main factors to keep talent engaged and employed?


By Barbara Frankel

Photo by Shutterstock

More optimistic workers, especially Millennials, are looking at all their options – including new employers, according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study. And what counts most for them is trust that their senior management is respectful and inclusive.

“An improved economy may give workers the confidence to seek out opportunities that they wouldn’t have before. This might increase job satisfaction as workers find positions that better fit their needs, whether it is advancing their career, more pay, or other benefits,” said SHRM researcher Christina Lee in an article. SHRM surveyed 600 randomly selected employees in November 2014.

The survey showed that 86% of all U.S. employees said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2014, an improvement of 5 percentage points over 2013. SHRM said the last time it had job satisfaction at this level was in 2009.

The most important factor they cited in job satisfaction was respectful treatment of all employees – rated very important by almost 75% of respondents. Trust between employees and senior management rated second at 64%.

Pay was less important. That is especially true for Millennials, according to recent Pew research.  Only 19% said high pay was “extremely important” while 50% said a job they enjoy was most critical.

Referencing younger workers, SHRM’s Lee stated: “What’s important to employees now is a collaborative environment that encourages feedback and interaction among co-workers and between employees and their supervisors.”

With this data in mind, what can companies do to get the clear message across to Millennials and all employees that they have respectful and inclusive atmospheres?

• Involve senior leadership with employees and in diversity messaging. Analysis of the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity shows increasing prevalence of the CEO and senior leaders meeting with resource-group members, serving as cross-cultural mentors, and visibly communicating the important of diversity to business goals.  Ninety-two % of the CEOs of Top 50 companies meet regularly with employee-resource groups, more than double the percentage in 2005.

Senior Leadership Involvement


Top 10Top 50
ERG sponsor58%41%
Cross-cultural mentor67%90%
CEO chairs diversity council62%80%

• Uphold stated values and have a reputation as a good citizen. Recent academic research links a company’s ability to recruit the most desirable talent to its reputation as a good corporate citizen. And the research finds prospective employees, especially Millennials, often look at corporate codes of conduct and stated values – and how they are enforced.

“Gen Y’ers are very interested in this. We find they check this out before they decide,” said Karyn Twaronite, Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer at EY, No. 4 on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

EY’s Global Code of Conduct is shared with all 183,185 employees as they are hired. Everyone at the manger and above level must sign annually that they have read the document and are committed to it.

“That’s incredibly important because there is human behavior and science around signing your name,” Twaronite said.

“We have a global code of business that really outlines in very specific terms how employees interact with each other, with suppliers, vendors and chief stakeholders. It’s how we respect and value each other,” said Belinda Grant-Anderson, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, AT&T, No. 7.

All AT&T employees have to view the code and acknowledge that they read it and understand it. Supervisors also have to acknowledge that their employees are current on ethics and all relevant trainings, Grant-Anderson said.

Millennials Want Strong Codes of Conduct

Corporate codes of conduct and values statements are increasingly important to recruiting millennials, as well as engaging a global workforce.


By Barbara Frankel

When prospective employees are deciding where to work, they increasingly examine corporate websites and look at stated values and codes of conduct.

“Gen Y’ers are very interested in this. We find they check this out before they decide,” says Karyn Twaronite, Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer at EY, No. 4 on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

EY’s Global Code of Conduct is shared with all 183,185 employees as they are hired. Everyone at the manger and above level must sign annually that they have read the document and are committed to it.

“That’s incredibly important because there is human behavior and science around signing your name, Twaronite said.

IBM, No. 22 on the DiversityInc Top 50, also makes sure new recruits know that adhering to its policies of inclusion and values are imperative to success at Big Blue.

“From the very time they join, they understand that this is not something new. It is an integral component and part of our DNA and everything we teach our employees is to ensure that our employees are treated equally around the world,” said Rosalia Thomas, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Americas.

“We have a global code of business that really outlines in very specific terms how employees interact with each other, with suppliers, vendors and chief stakeholders. It’s how we respect and value each other,” explained Belinda Grant-Anderson, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, AT&T, No. 7.

All AT&T employees have to view the code and acknowledge that they read it and understand it. Supervisors also have to acknowledge that their employees are current on ethics and all relevant trainings, Grant-Anderson said.

At Accenture, No. 15, “we’ve found that there are a number best practices for communicating our core values and commitment to inclusion and diversity, including setting clear expectations and sharing consistent messages across multiple channels – from orientation to required training to employee performance feedback," said Adrian Lajtha, Chief Leadership Officer.

The company, she continued, provides "our geographies with communication toolkits; produce brochures, postcards and videos; post content on our website and have a dedicated portal and blog; host events and celebrations; promote via all internal and external social networks, and sponsor global Inclusion & Diversity Excellence Awards, which recognize outstanding activities that are innovative and repeatable across the company."

Messaging From the Top

Successful codes of conduct and/or values have messaging from the top and clearly communicate what is important. They don’t use vague terminology and their leaders make it clear they stand by these values.

For example, EY’s code of conduct states in part:

We are committed to working in diverse teams and are personally accountable to other team members for the contributions we make.

It also discusses how the firm values others and values differences.

These values are transmitted globally. They were created under former Chairman and CEO Jim Turley and have been continued under current Chairman and CEO Mark Weinberger.

“Quite often when new leaders come in, they change a lot of the deck chairs and philosophies. This wasn’t touched. It helps us be really grounded and consistent around the world,” Twaronite said.

She emphasized that messaging from top leaders around these values is critical. For example, Americas Managing Partner Steve Howe writes a monthly CEO blog for the 60,000 employees in North America that constantly reinforces the importance of diversity and inclusion to “clients we serve and clients we win. It makes a big difference,” Twaronite said. And Mark Weinberger has an annual chairman’s award that goes to 12 employees globally who are “living our values. It’s a very big deal within our walls.”

At AT&T, the Chairman’s Inclusion Council (led by Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson) reinforces the global code, which filters down to each business-level diversity council, Grant-Anderson said. “The chain of command makes sure everyone who works there (in each business unit) understands how we live it.”

Nielsen, No. 42, similarly ensures the messaging from the top on global values is transmitted throughout the company, said Angela Talton, Senior Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion.

“Our CEO, Mitch Barns, speaks globally about diversity and inclusion as a global business imperative," she said. "In 2015, he announced Diversity & Inclusion is one of our key operating philosophies for the 2015 strategy; and not just Mitch but his direct reports speak to the importance of diversity and inclusion. Our Regional President for Europe, Christophe Calmounac, addressed the top 200 attendees in January sharing the work done in Europe to expand diversity and inclusion."

"In 2014, they launched 11 Women in Nielsen ERG chapters.  The launches were flawless, well organized and draw large audiences of all employees.  Our Latin America Region launched five ERG chapters in 2014.  Our senior leaders support the diversity and inclusion initiatives with their time and energy.”

Using Resource Groups to Get Message Out

Employee resource groups are valuable ways to emphasize inclusive values at all locations around the world.

At IBM, “we recognize best practices and share them through BRGs (business resource groups) across the globe,” Thomas said. When new resource groups are created, they have a mentoring relationship with older groups to ensure the values are transmitted.

Nielsen employee resource groups operate under four pillars or focus areas:

- Recruitment/Retention - Support recruitment efforts and develop networks to increase representation of diverse talent at all levels

- Professional Development - Offer professional development opportunities to ensure continuous learning for diverse talent

- Community Outreach - Lead and collaborate on community outreach initiatives that align to Nielsen Cares/corporate social responsibility, Public Affairs and Supplier Diversity strategies

- Education/Engagement - Provide engagement and education opportunities to members, employees, and clients to drive inclusion and increase cultural competence.

In the cases of all these companies, the groups are cited as valuable means of using inclusive messaging to attract talent, engage workers and create safe workspaces on a global basis.

Sometimes, there has to be patience. For example,Twaronite cited EY’s desire to create LGBT employee resource groups in countries that culturally are less gay-friendly than the U.S., such as many Asian countries. “In a few of those countries, it is illegal to be gay. At EY, we value inclusion and want everyone to feel safe and included. It takes a little longer but we couldn’t mandate that it be done earlier.” However, under the global code of conduct EY does mandate respect in the workplace and that created safe spaces for LGBT employees in the interim. And now LGBT groups are being formed in many of these countries, a growing trend at many Top 50 global companies.


The hardest question for these and other companies is how do you enforce your global values? Employees can’t always be controlled, so what do you do when the values aren’t followed?

All the companies said they have monitoring methods and, if something goes amiss, they intercede with appropriate training and warnings. If it’s found to be egregious, the person is terminated. Every situation is different but the adherence to values is not negotiable.

The companies also said they use their employee engagement survey to ascertain if their messaging from senior leaders is right and if employees, globally, “get the point.”

Here are specific responses that sum up enforcement of values:

From Lajtha at Accenture:

“Monitoring and enforcement are integral to our corporate governance and Ethics & Compliance program. We encourage our people to raise all concerns, by name or anonymously, through multiple channels, which include our 24/7 phone line, our website, HR or Legal groups, his/her supervisor or career counselor. We take every concern that is raised seriously, and appropriate teams review all issues.  Resolution may include additional training and awareness, improvements to internal processes and/or disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment in the most severe cases. We have zero tolerance for retaliation against those who raise good faith concerns, and believe that when people feel comfortable to come forward, we can better identify mistakes, take action, reinforce our culture and further motivate our people.”

From Thomas at IBM:

“When something goes wrong, you have to address it. I don’t think this is rocket science. When anybody does something that is not conducive to values of the company, a phone call needs to be made – what happened, why it happened and why it violates the value. The person needs to be educated. Values are the cornerstone of our company. If anyone is not in alignment on our values, we have to address it. We have to understand what led to this. They are non-negotiable values. They are what makes us IBMers.”


Reputation Attracts Recruits, Especially Gen Y

Academic research and DiversityInc Top 50 data shows companies with strong and well-communicated social values are more attractive to recruits.


By Barbara Frankel

A company’s ability to recruit top talent is significantly impacted by its reputation as a good corporate citizen – and that includes being inclusive in the workplace and the marketplace.

Companies that have strongly stated inclusive morals and act decisively to stand up for them are more attractive to recruits, according to the study’s findings. In recent days, that would include Eli Lilly and Company, Cummins, Anthem, Marriott International and Monsanto, all of whom vehemently opposed  Indiana’s anti-gay Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A 2014 study cited in the Academy of Management Journal measured the impact of an organization’s corporate social performance (CSP) on its attractiveness to potential recruits.

The study, by Professors David A. Jones of the University of Vermont, Chelsea R. Willness of the University of Saskatchewan, found that job seekers receive cues on an organization’s CSP, which determine their perceived value fit with the organization and their expectations about how the organization treats its employees.

In separate field tests, the authors surveyed several hundred job applicants and university students and found they rely on signals sent by recruitment materials (these days primarily web-based).

The study found that more than 85 percent of the job seekers felt CSP was a critical factor in selecting a company as their top choice. Several participants noted that the CSP set one company apart from others.  The survey also found that people who were not exposed to CSP information were significantly more likely to mention points about work climate, job characteristics and the overall company (mostly negatively).

“Recruiting organizations attempt to attract workers by distinguishing themselves from other organizations … Pay and location are key factors but not all the factors. Research shows companies with higher CSP are more attractive to recruits,” the study found.

The “signals” the employer sends are about its “prestige, specific values and pro-social orientation.” For these, job-seekers will anticipate “pride from being associated with a prestigious organization that is lauded for its CSP, perceived value fit in relation to the organizational values demonstrated by CSP, and expected treatment by the organization given its pro-social efforts to enhance the well-being of others through its CEP (community education partners).

The authors cite other studies, which found that linking organizational prestige to anticipated pride makes people “feel proud of being part of a well-respected organization, as it strengthens their feelings of self-worth to bask in reflected glory.”

Best Practices In Inclusive Recruiting

So what are the best ways to send the message to potential recruits that your company has strong CPS, including an inclusive culture?

Here are some tactics used by The 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, compared with national statistics on best practices supplied by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). When you compare the Top 50 new hire/workforce demographics to U.S. demographics (EEOC data), you see these best practices have demonstrable results.

 Incorporate D&I in Corporate Vision Statement

Top 50




Have Written Policy on Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Top 50




Visible Leadership – CEOs





Top 50





US (Fortune 500)






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