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Week 4 Newsletter

February 19, 2019

This week: 

  • D&I In Practice talks to Pia Höök of Skanska to learn how this Swedish construction company thinks about a global D&I strategy that is executed with flexibility at the local level. This is the  first of our new monthly column, Diversity Doers, which features interviews with European D&I leaders.

  • Culture fit and the “airport test. How can you assess a candidate’s compatibility with a company’s culture without accidentally sliding into bias?

  • Caregiving is a huge issue for American workers. Most companies are unprepared for the impact caregiving responsibilities have--and will increasingly have, as the population ages--on their employees. 

  • Diversity and genomics: Almost all DNA sequencing has been done on people of European origins, which is hindering the science.

  • More white women are making it onto company boards, but the number of board members from racial and ethnic minority groups still lags. 

Starting this week, we will be publishing this newsletter once a week on Tuesdays. Please let us know how you like the new schedule. And check out our Top Resources at! We’ve curated over 150 articles, reports and data sets from around the world to help you in your D&I work, with more added every week.

Remember: We are in beta! If you are not yet a subscriber, subscribe here to help us make D&I In Practice a resource that really works for you. Our discounted beta price ends soon!

Top picks from D&I In Practice

Diversity Doers: Even in One of the World's Most Gender Equal Countries, There is Still Work to Do (D&I Original/Subscribers Only)

Pia Höök, global D&I leader at construction and project management firm Skanska, talks about how to localize a diversity strategy, the impact of #MeToo, and how even Sweden has work to do. Each month, our columnist Jonna Louvier will be interviewing D&I leaders in Europe for a uniquely global perspective.

Why Screening Too Rigidly for Culture Fit Can Inadvertently Cause Exclusion (D&I Original/Subscribers Only)

The “airport test”—Would you be willing to be stuck in an airport with this person for a long layover?—was long a staple of interviews at management consulting, finance and high tech firms. While the actual ‘test’ has fallen out of favor, interviewers still can slide into the trap of thinking culture fit means “people I like” or “people who are like me.” We unpack culture fit and suggest more rigorous ways of evaluating whether someone will be a good addition to the team.

For our UK readers, the Business Disability Forum 2019 Conference is coming up on April 25 in London. Cost is £249 plus VAT for members, £311 plus VAT for non-members. 

More in News and Research

1. Caregiving Touches the Majority of US Workers—and Companies Aren’t Providing Enough Support (Harvard Business School)

Up to 73% of employees report some type of current caregiving responsibilities, according to a Harvard Business School report. Yet, while companies are more willing to accomodate employees through flexible schedules and leave programs, few companies are willing to spend money on benefits such as counseling, referral services, child care and elder care.

Part of the problem: A perceived lack of company support. Fifty-nine percent of employees surveyed believe that caregivers are perceived to be less committed to their jobs, and 55 percent agreed that caregivers are less likely to advance at the same rate as their peers, even if performing at comparable levels. The report advocates a more comprehensive view of the economic benefits of supporting caregivers, including the value of benefits that provide financial support.

For more:

An interview with Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of, on how difficult it is for U.S. workers to access affordable, high-quality child and elder care. 

A sampling of child care costs around the world.

A report on long-term care services in Europe. While somewhat dated, the report clearly illustrates the extent to which European countries rely on women to provide informal care.

The best and worst countries to be elderly. The U.S. does surprisingly well on some measures, but older Americans face an ever-present threat of poverty.

2. Genomics Needs More Diversity (Stanford Engineering podcast)

Genomics promises to unlock vast potential knowledge, including new lifesaving drugs and therapies. But most DNA sequencing is done on people of European ancestry and this is holding the field back, according to Stanford geneticist Carlos Bustamante. Dr. Bustamante was also recently in the news for his analysis of the DNA test of presidential contender Elizabeth Warren.

3.  More White Women on Company Boards, Minorities Lagging (Reuters)

Driven by activist investors and the recent California law mandating women directors, Russell 3000 companies appointed more women directors in the past three years. Women constitute 27 percent  of new board appointments, up from 21 percent in the prior three-year period. But progress on increasing the number of minority directors is much slower. Some possible reasons for the discrepancy, according to the article:

  • Since women are half the population, there is a larger pool of potential talent to draw upon; 

  • Pressure from investors, including both activist investors like Arjuna Capital and third-party asset managers like BlackRock and State Street Capital, has focused on gender diversity;

  • The example of other countries, which have focused on greater board gender diversity either by mandate (France, Germany) or through strong pushes for transparency (UK, Australia).

To bring more minority directors onto boards, boards might need both to build more diverse networks and to think more broadly about what qualifies someone for board service. From the Reuters article: “‘Deb DeHaas (of Deloitte) said its data shows minority directors tend to serve on more boards than non-minorities, suggesting companies keep going back to the same people. ‘You need to widen the aperture of where you’re looking.’”

Upcoming Events

Event listings are provided as a courtesy. D&I In Practice is not affiliated with any of these events.

Lesbians Who Tech+Allies Summit (February 28-March 2, live event in San Francisco, livecast also available)

Gender Equality in the Workplace: The Latest From the Field (March 12, live event in London, free)

WT2 Women Transforming Technology conference (April 23, live event in Palo Alto, $145 early bird pricing through February 22)

Business Disability Forum 2019 conference (April 25, live event in London, £249 plus VAT for members, £311 plus VAT for non-members)

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