Panelists: Kathleen Martinez, SVP, Head of Disability and Accessibility Strategy at Wells Fargo; Beth Gottfried, Human Resources Group Manager at Toyota; Latisha Roberson, Strategic Partnerships Lead, North America Inclusion & Diversity at Accenture
In this webinar, Toyota’s Beth Gottfried, Wells Fargo’s Kathleen Martinez and Accenture’s Latisha Roberson lent their expertise on how their companies were able to encourage veterans, professionals with disabilities and LGBTQ professionals to identify themselves as current and prospective employees.
Gottfreid began the presentation by outlining Toyota’s two pillars: respect for all people and continuous improvement. “Guided by these two pillars, we’re fostering a diverse, open and inclusive workplace, where everyone feels they can contribute and thrive,” she said.
- Encouraging those who are veterans, LGBTQ, or who have disabilities to self-identify begins with creating a culture where employees feel safe.
- Involving employee resource groups (ERGs) in the process of recruiting individuals from these populations can help make prospective employees aware of the company’s inclusive culture.
- Providing employees with direct, specific questions about their identities can help the company gain more granular data on people’s various identities.
- It’s important to always keep this information confidential. Not everyone is comfortable disclosing their identities to everyone at work.
Beth Gottfreid: Toyota’s multifaceted approach to encouraging self-identification
In 2018, leaders at Toyota looked at its self-identification questions and decided the company needed to go more in-depth. It simply asked about race, gender and veteran status but did not include information on disability and LGBTQ identities. Later that year, the team launched more specific questions. For disability, the company consulted with the National Organization on Disability and Disability:IN to improve these practices.
Toyota also partnered with its business partnering groups (BPGs) to ensure the questions it was phrasing for each identifier were appropriate and inclusive. The team paid attention to details, such as including the “Q” in the LGTBQ acronym, and ensured non-binary individuals could identify their gender appropriately. They even asked a question about whether non-LGBTQ people identified as allies.
To encourage the military community to self-identify, Toyota rephrased its language.
“Through our partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes program, we reformatted our military self-identification question, to not only focus on veterans, but to also capture our active military,” Gottfried said. “We therefore do not use the term veteran in our recruitment disclosure, but we use previous or current military. We additionally decided to capture military spouses, as we’ve ramped-up our efforts to improve our military-spouse-recruitment activity in support of military families.”
Regarding race, instead of just giving bi- or multiracial professionals the option to identify as two or more races, Toyota’s language allowed them to include which particular races and ethnicities applied to them.
Additionally, Toyota utilized employee engagement surveys and other data to determine the success of their efforts.
“We look at our engagement surveys and determine if different subsets of the population are scoring outside of the general population results. For example, less engagement from a group would lead us to improve our efforts to reach these audiences in different ways,” Gottfried explained.
In the future, Toyota plans to bring the same initiative it implemented for applicants to its existing employees, leveraging its BPGs to encourage disclosure from members and ensuring their information is confidential.
Latisha Roberson: Accenture’s LGBTQ self-identification approach
Accenture’s LGBTQ self-identification program is voluntary. Employees can identify their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The initiative is aimed at helping support its Pride Network ERG and further attract, grow and support a diverse workforce.
“It is an extension of our efforts to capture our entire diversity full-spectrum across our workforces,” Roberson said.
Knowing about the presence of its LGBTQ workers helps the company identify their needs as they relate to benefits and policies such as family planning, health insurance and transgender restrooms.
Some examples of questions include:
- Whether the employee identifies with the LGBTQ community or is an ally
- Whether the employee identifies as female/woman, male/man, binary, other or prefers not to say
- To whom the employee has disclosed their identity or sexuality at work
- Whether the employee wants to be contacted about potential learning development opportunities
Roberson said it is important that the information employees share is confidential. Additionally, the company stresses that sharing this information is voluntary. Because Accenture is a global company, this information is kept out of official HR records in case an employee transfers to a country where being LGBTQ is stigmatized or illegal.
“Because it is a very extremely personal decision, we assure our employees that we have worked closely with our technical and our legal and data teams, to make sure we have secure mechanisms for maintaining confidentiality throughout this process,” she said.
Kathy Martinez: How Wells Fargo approaches disability disclosure
Wells Fargo currently has upwards of 11,000 employees who openly identify as having a disability. Wells Fargo has the Diverse Abilities Team Member Network which has 7,300 members.
To help employees feel comfortable disclosing information on disability, Martinez recommends leaders showing support. Martinez is blind and said Wells Fargo’s Chief Accessibility Officer Scott Powell openly shares about his connection to disability. She also said it’s important for companies to hire professionals with disabilities at senior levels.
“For us that’s very important, that our leadership acknowledge that disability is a part of our diversity agenda, and that it is a segment both on the employee side and the customer side that is critical to our company,” Martinez said.
Martinez also discussed the phrase “coming out” as it refers to someone disclosing a disability that is not immediately evident. Being authentic at work leads to better productivity.
“One thing that I’ve noticed is when people are ready to come out — and they feel safe in their environment to come out as having a disability — they tend to be more productive. So, productivity is critical, in terms of being able to get an accommodation,” she explained.
Additionally, Wells Fargo has a disability employee resource center for employees with disabilities to access opportunities like mentorships, military apprenticeships and professional development programs. Wells Fargo’s recruiting community is also trained on disability etiquette — like how to guide a blind person or how to shake hands with someone without arms. All of these practices and educations help Wells Fargo create a safe environment for employees with disabilities to disclose their statuses.
“Having people with disabilities in the mix and part of standard-operating practice has really allowed, I think, our workforce to realize that tasks can be done in different ways,” she said.