Inspire Bold Leadership
Why diversity matters
When I first started working in the diversity space 20 years ago, it was very different. Diversity back then was all about the numbers. There was one question that everyone was focused on, "How many do you have?" Affirmative Action was trying to change the face of corporate America by sheer numbers.
Today, diversity is a lot more than the numbers. Of course they still matter, but they don't tell the whole story. And many will tell you that corporate diversity is actually very much about culture. It's ingrained in the fabric of a company, the quality of its people, and reflected very much in the "look and feel" of the organization.
The questions we ask today are: "Who do you have?" "How can we make our company a place where everyone feels comfortable being themselves?" "How do we foster an environment where people love coming to work every day?"
For example, when you hear a company say they want to improve diversity, what are they really saying? They want to improve their talent pool. They want to do more and they want to do it better. A company with a culture of diversity enables it to recruit the best people, refuels employees' intellect, perspectives and ideas, and ensures that anybody who has the skills to work there is able to and feels like they fit.
Our company is global—we have 240,000 people working in more than 60 countries, serving clients in more than 100 countries. Cultural sensitivity and understanding is a must in our business. We believe diversity is the key to achieving our business objectives. We've seen that employees of companies that embrace diversity and foster a culture of inclusion perform better. They like coming to work, they're motivated and they're engaged.
We're serious about making diversity a central part of our culture and ensuring it is at the core of how we do business. We're doing so by:
- embedding diversity objectives and guidelines into business plans
- increasing management accountability for bringing in the best talent
- encouraging managers to look for candidates in places they might not have looked before to accomplish that
- continuing to promote participation in business resource groups (BRGs).
About one in every five of our employees is a member of at least one of our ten BRGs—networking groups which enable our employees around the world to connect with one another based on shared interests. They leverage common interests, challenges and goals to help the firm achieve certain goals. They promote leadership and professional development opportunities for members who serve as active volunteers, advocates and recruiters in our key markets, connecting the company's employees to distinct and diverse communities.
We still have a way to go. But at the end of the day, we are striving to be the company where people who might otherwise feel they're "different" in some way—be it because of their ethnicity, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, whatever—are comfortable being themselves and happy to come to work. We want to embody a culture of inclusion, where we no longer even talk about "diversity" or "inclusion" because it's the norm. And when we get to the point where we no longer have to talk about diversity? That's when we know we have been successful.
Patricia David is a Senior Diversity Advisor for JPMorgan Chase. She is responsible for developing and implementing a diversity strategy for the organization in line with the business strategy.