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Newsletter Week 41

November 27, 2019

This week: If we believe the D&I business case, why be patient? Insights from an HR leader at Nestlé about how culture change can happen fast when you commit. Also, accents and what they can mean in the British workplace. The Internet Association’s first published D&I benchmarks, focused on what member companies are doing to improve D&I in their companies. GlassDoor’s four-country survey on employee experiences of discrimination and company efforts around D&I.

This Week in D&I In Practice

Diversity Doers: "If we really think inclusion is a key business element...we should not be patient." (D&I In Practice Original Content)

Mikala Larsen’s D&I wake-up call came when a talented employee turned down a key promotion. From the article:

What really hit me was her saying "I don't think I'll be successful there." She thought she would have to adjust her leadership style into a more macho style. And she said "That's not who I am. I want to stay true to the person I am”. So, if your managers do not want to advance because of cultural elements, that is an issue. 

As an HR leader at Nestlé, Larsen believes a narrow definition of leadership is a business problem for the company.  She shares with us how she is changing Nestlé’s culture to be more inclusive, and why corporate leaders shouldn’t have to be patient about demanding results.

This Week in News and Research

1. British People Still Think That Some Accents Are Smarter Than Others: What That Means in the Workplace (The Conversation)

Perceptions about accents offer a fascinating lens into how biases can intersect. Accents can be read as signalling class, race/ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, and a host of other characteristics that overlap and intersect to shape our perceptions of the speaker.

This most recent study about accent bias in the UK talks about all these factors. One finding, people can disregard their accent bias in hiring situations, at least when they are specifically prompted to do so. However, the underlying biases do still exist, and in much the same patterns as 50 years ago—primarily against working-class British and ethnic minority accents. 

Before Americans get too complacent, similar research in the US shows how “racially and regionally distinct” speaking patterns can result in lower wages, especially for black workers.

2. Internet Association Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Benchmark Report (Internet Association website)

The Internet Association has also released a diversity and inclusion report providing benchmarks from its’ member companies around D&I programs. It’s relatively thin, and the Association is unclear about how many companies responded, which makes the data less useful than it could be. But practitioners will find it useful as a way to understand and explain what other companies in the industry are doing. Some key stats quoted from the report:

  • The majority (70 percent) of IA members companies have an appointed D&I head with direct reports and dedicated D&I budgets...

  • 60% release public-facing data regarding the diversity of their workforce.

  • 81% have formal employee resource groups.

  • 56% regularly recruit from HBCUs, HSIs, and predominantly minority-serving institutions.

  • 22% track their spending on third-party vendors. 

3. GlassDoor Diversity & Inclusion Study 2019 (GlassDoor company website)

GlassDoor’s most recent survey offers a look at whether workers across the US, UK, France and Germany have observed discrimination in their companies, as well as employee perceptions of how companies are investing in D&I efforts. This one is mostly interesting because of the country-level detail, but here are two key findings that hold true across all four geographies:

  • Millennial employees are more likely to say their company needs to step up D&I efforts.

  • Companies are increasing their investment in D&I headcount, as measured by open roles listed on

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