Meeting in a Box: Innovation

May 29, 2013 5:48 pm
Steve Millerman, Wei Shi, Stephen Howard

Millerman, Shi, Howard

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and subscribers.]

This month, we are giving you educational information on how inclusive workplaces lead to innovative business solutions. We’ll show you how companies in a variety of industries use their resource groups, strategic communications and social media, and cultural-competence training to achieve sustainable gains in human-capital diversity, market share and supplier diversity.

Here, we identify four of the most successful D&I–related innovations featured at our three Innovation Fests!, including the most recent one in February. We also recommend that you review our web seminar on innovation.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and subscribers.]

INNOVATION NO. 1: Novartis Saves $2 Million

Steve Millerman, Director, Cross Cultural Marketing, shared how Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation wanted to fulfill its business mission of improving patients’ lives by reducing healthcare disparities. The company also wanted to reach its business goals of increasing sales.

Using its seven racial/ethnic resource groups (for Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Russians, Chinese, Asian Indians and American Indians), the company conducted its own market research on culturally competent strategies. Hundreds of strategies were vetted over two years for cultural insights, consumer research, translations and new ideas.

Novartis reports the strategy led to more than $2 million in savings on market research and helped it reach more than 30 million consumers. Another bonus: Employee participation in resource groups rose substantially. Click here for the full presentation and video.

Guided Questions for Staff

What support within your organization do you need in order to use your resource groups to assess marketplace opportunities?
In many organizations, especially those just starting out, groups are focused internally. How do you gain support within your company for an external focus?

How do you measure and reward/recognize business contributions of resource groups?
What goals are you setting for the groups? How are executive sponsors involved? Is compensation or performance evaluation of the sponsors and/or the group leaders related to group success? How do you internally communicate and recognize the group’s achievements?

Do you use your groups to vet cultural competence in external communications? Are you monitoring what messages go out to multicultural groups, including suppliers, and using your groups to ensure they are not offensive?

INNOVATION NO. 2: Liquor Company Benefits From Resource Group for Non-Drinkers

Brown-Forman’s Matt Hamel, General Counsel and Executive Sponsor, and Judy Spalding, founder and co-leader, showcased their resource group for non-drinkers.

The liquor company realized that some of its employees who didn’t drink for health, religious or other reasons weren’t fully engaged. So the company started a resource group for non-drinkers. The group, called Spirit, has as its mission: “Promote the same level of understanding, commitment and creativity around supporting an individual’s decision not to drink as we do toward supporting those who drink responsibly.”  It is open to all employees and finds that its allies are crucial to its success. It already has impacted employee engagement, talent development, recruitment, corporate reputation, internal values as an inclusive culture and external messaging on corporate values. Click here for the full presentation and video.

Guided Questions for Staff

What nontraditional groups would benefit your company’s business model or address particular inequities in your corporate culture?
Think outside the box for areas in your company where inequities, misunderstandings or lack of cultural competence are preventing maximum engagement and performance.

How can you best add new groups at your company?
Does your company require a grassroots effort with a minimum number of signatures or can management request a necessary group? Do groups have formal charters aligning their goals to business goals?

How do you select executive sponsors and group leaders?
Is HR involved? Are there term limits? What criteria should you use?

Are your groups available at all locations and to all employees to maximize effectiveness?
Do you include hourly and unionized workers? Are any types of employees excluded? Do you have virtual meetings? How do you count membership?

INNOVATION NO. 3: Toyota Financial Services—Diverse Teams Are Better Problem Solvers

Wei Shi, Vice President, Treasury, Finance & Analytics, and Stephen Howard, Head of Capital Market & Derivatives, discussed how the “Toyota Way” is to focus on team problem solving. Diverse groups are crucial to innovative business solutions.

Every Toyota employee is empowered to use an Andon cord to stop the entire assembly line if a problem is discovered. The stoppage may cost more than the worker’s annual salary, but pulling the cord is less expensive than letting a problem go and fixing it later. When the Andon board lights up, everyone in the company knows the cord has been pulled.

Bletchley Park was the headquarters for 12,000-plus British World War II code breakers. Their challenge was to break Germany’s Enigma code. The key was to assemble very diverse code breakers—linguists, chess champions, crossword experts, mathematicians, etc. They broke the code and shortened the time to the Allied victory by 2–4 years.

TFS uses the Bletchley story to symbolize modern challenges and opportunities. TFS has had much volatility: the 2008 market crash; 2010 recalls; the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and floods impacting Toyota’s supply chain. A very diverse Treasury Department has helped TFS grow in these tough times.

In January 2013, TFS issued its first Diversity & Inclusion Bond. TFS mandated the use of MBEs, WBEs and firms owned by veterans with disabilities as “lead underwriters.” Click here for the full presentation and video.

Guided Questions for Staff

How well does your organization create and sustain diverse teams?
Do you factor in diversity of background, country of origin, age and personality style? Do you measure “traditional” diversity factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, orientation and disability in your engagement survey to assess inclusive groups?

Does your organization have a collaborative and inclusive problem-solving style?
If not, what are the obstacles to creating this? Is your senior leadership supportive of inclusive teams? How can you use your resource groups to help?

How do you recognize and reward team efforts?
Have you considered innovation awards for both teams and individuals? Are collaborative initiatives publicly recognized? Do you have internal platforms for idea sharing?

INNOVATION NO. 4: Recruiting, Retaining, Engaging Veterans at ADP

Roland Cloutier, Vice President and Chief Security Officer, discussed the available labor pools of veterans and how the company is actively recruiting and engaging veterans, including matching military to civilian job codes.

Cloutier noted there are 21.5 million U.S. veterans, 7.4 percent of whom are female, 10.6 percent of whom are Black, 5.6 percent of whom are Latino and 1.6 percent of whom are Asian. In the next five years, 1 million service members will be transitioning to civilian life. ADP’s survey found the greatest challenges they face in finding jobs are:

62% U.S. Economy
60% Translating Military Skills
46% Competing With Candidates Who Have Been in Workforce Longer
43% Lacking Required Education

ADP has used several best practices to reach and engage veterans, including:

  • Military Spouse Employment Program
  • Aligning military skills with job codes
  • Career fairs on how military training leads to careers
  • Partnering with organizations (Wounded Warrior, Student Veterans of America)
  • Engaging U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Labor and Defense
  • Google search on “military” connects users to ADP portal

The company also launched a military resource group. Click here for the full presentation and video.

Guided Questions for Staff

What cultural-competence training do veterans need as they reenter the civilian workforce?
Conversely, what type of cultural-competence training do their managers, subordinates and peers in the civilian workforce need to understand the benefits and challenges of working with former military?

Is having a veterans resource group worthwhile?
How should your other resource groups (especially a disabilities group) work with a veterans group? Should the group also support military spouses and families?

How can you partner better with military organizations, such as Wounded Warrior?
How can you use your relationships with nonprofits and government agencies to recruit and engage more veterans?