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Week 7 Newsletter

March 13, 2019

This week: 

  • The pressure for board diversity has expanded beyond activist investors like Arjuna Capital to include major firms like State Street, Vanguard and BlackRock. If your company hasn’t faced a shareholder resolution yet, 2019 might be the year.

  • The recent call for law firm diversity by corporate general counsels was met with skepticism by attorneys of color, says attorney Don Prophete. We talk to Prophete about what might actually work.

  • Innovation thrives when companies have a mindset of equality—and that’s good for business, according to new research from Accenture.

  • Definitions of diversity, allyship and getting past “covering” are all topics in this engaging podcast featuring D&I leaders at Workday and PwC.

  • IKEA has been on a roll, first with its African design collection and now with a set of modifications to make standard furniture pieces more accessible to people with disabilities. The coolest part: The modifications are printed on 3-D printers.

  • Learning and development (L&D) has historically been friendly to women and LBGTQ+ people, but people of color are dramatically under-represented. 

Today in D&I In Practice

Investors Agitating for Change are Pushing Equality to the Forefront of Corporate Concerns (D&I Original/Subscribers Only)

Investors increasingly are pressuring companies to diversify their boards and companies are responding. The proof: A record 48 percent of proxy resolutions focused on environmental and social issues were “withdrawn” in 2018—a resolution is usually withdrawn if the proposer sees evidence that the company is addressing the issue.)

In 2019, expect to see more investor activism on racial and ethnic diversity, in addition to a sustained focus on gender. Activism is also starting to involve real penalties, such as major investors voting against a company’s entire slate of directors if candidates are not sufficiently diverse.

Only More Powerful Partners of Color will Bring Real Diversity to Law Firms (D&I Original/Subscribers Only)

Attorneys of color are on a different track from their peers from day one, says longtime lawyer Don Prophete. What needs to happen to create change? Equal access to high-quality work early in new associates’ careers so they develop the skills and networks to generate business later on.

More in News and Research

  1. A Culture of Equality Promotes Innovation  (Accenture)

This new report from Accenture based on their proprietary research explores the link between inclusion and innovation. Reinforcing academic work in this field, Accenture finds that the more equal a company’s culture is, the more freedom employees feel to be creative, share their ideas, and take risks.

Some key findings:

  • In the “most equal” companies (where employees had the highest responses on survey questions measuring cultural equality), employees had an innovation mindset six times higher than that at the “least equal” companies.

  • There’s a gap between how leaders and employees perceive their commitment to enabling innovation. From the report: “While 76 percent of leaders say they regularly empower employees to be innovative, only 42 percent of employees agree.”

  • Purpose matters more than compensation in driving an innovative mindset, so companies should prioritize cultural improvements in order to drive innovation.

For more:

2.  Peeling Back the Layers of Diversity and Inclusion (Workday)

This insightful podcast (transcript also included) features Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer at Workday, and Mike Dillon, chief diversity and inclusion leader at PwC. It’s a frank, insightful discussion touching on definitions of diversity, allyship and how getting past “covering” at work helps people contribute more to the bottom line.

3. IKEA Offers 3-D Printed Furniture Modifications To Make Its Furniture More Accessible  (Fast Company)

Half the companies I visit have IKEA products somewhere—in the waiting area, in employee lounge spaces, even in conference rooms. But I never thought about whether this standardized furniture, which is often quite low to the ground, is accessible for people with disabilities. Now IKEA has created a set of 3-D printable modifications to help. Check out the video. It’s an inspiration.

4.  Learning and Development Could Use More Diversity (Chief Learning Officer)

Over 89 percent of learning and training managers are white, according to Chief Learning Officer’s research that is based on international data sources. Given the critical role that L&D plays in maintaining and evolving corporate culture, it’s especially important for L&D leaders to think critically about how to involve non-white (and non-home country) perspectives in program development, from leveraging employee resource groups to ensuring “on-air” personalities from the L&D group represent diversity.

We’re Also Reading...

These articles aren’t directly connected to the workplace, but have interesting insights about diversity and inclusion in society at large. 

Three Ways to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Philanthropy (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education (London School of Economics)

Perspectives on Diversity and Pluralism in Economics (Institute for New Economic Thinking)

Which Countries Have the Most Immigrants (The Conversation)

Female Foreign Students Endure Harassment, Exploitation (The Vancouver Sun)

Upcoming Events

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

WT2 Women Transforming Technology conference (April 23, live event in Palo Alto, $175)

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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