Resource-Group Solutions From MasterCard, IBM, Dell, Time Warner and AbbVie

June 4, 2013 1:11 pm
Resource-Group Solutions from MasterCard, IBM, Dell, Time Warner and AbbVie

Johnson, Hansen, Mink, Quiroz, Glover

How much budget should your resource groups get and where does it come from? How do you find employee leaders and executive sponsors? What structure should your groups have to maximize recruitment, retention, talent development and marketplace insights? How do you measure their impact on the business? How can you go global? Chief diversity officers from five companies share best practices with proven results.

The Participants

• Donna Johnson, Chief Diversity Officer, MasterCard Worldwide, No. 5 in the 2013 DiversityInc Top 50
• Julie Hansen, Senior Manager, Diversity and Inclusion, AbbVie (spun off from Abbott, No. 14)
Ron Glover, Vice President, Global Diversity and Workforce Policy, IBM, No. 24
• Lisa Quiroz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer, Time Warner, No. 33
• Lisa Mink, Executive Director, Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer, Dell, No. 37

1. Most Effective Structures

Key Takeaways:

• MasterCard urges aligning groups with business goals. The company started with grassroots groups, driven by employees. “Without corporate support, they were really more about whining groups,” says Johnson. “People got together and complained about things that were happening in the company, but they weren’t empowered to make that change.” In 2008, the groups were changed to corporate-supported Business Resource Groups that have three business pillars: Talent Development, Innovation and Results.

• IBM started its diversity networks in the 1990s and relaunched them as Business Resource Groups last year. They are used primarily for recruitment, mentoring and talent development. About 80 percent of the groups include mentoring/sponsorship and engagement among their goals. They have built an infrastructure that enables the groups to be involved in identifying and finding high-potentials for openings throughout the organization.

• Senior-level executive sponsors, preferably reporting to the CEO, give organizational credibility and directional purpose, says MasterCard’s Johnson. “We provide executive sponsors a template of what the groups should look like and what their roles should be.”

Executive sponsors should be selected by the CEO in conjunction with the Diversity department—not selected by the employee-group leaders, says AbbVie’s Hansen. And they should be cross-cultural (not of the same demographic as the group majority) whenever possible. Sponsor performance should be included in executive competency goals, Hansen says.

• In response to a question from ADP, Johnson says MasterCard designed a guidebook that includes mission, objectives, how to design programs, the three pillars, and what should be included in a group’s budget. It also provides recommended structure, including how to elect employee leaders, how long their tenure should be, and what leadership roles the group should have. The groups fill out a yearly template, which is reviewed by the Global Diversity Council and a Business Resource Group council of middle managers.

2. Finding Leaders and Getting Support for Them

• When asked if identified high-potentials should lead groups, Johnson firmly said no. “If you do that, you’re always going to those same 20, 200 or 2,000 people. … We are staying away from that in hopes of really driving talent in the organization.”

• Gaining middle-management support is essential. Several companies cited the difficulty of getting employees to lead groups when their managers don’t see the benefits of giving them time to work on this. Hansen’s advice: “Sometimes employees don’t share with their managers the value they are getting out of the groups, including professional development and engagement.” She suggests inviting middle managers to present at resource-group events as subject-matter experts. Marco Irizarry, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Travelers, one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies, cites his company’s “road show” to get middle managers on board with resource groups, which has been to 30 major field locations over the last two years. This year, Travelers plans a summit for managers of resource-group leaders.

• Travelers also incorporates resource-group membership into the HR system, so when an employee joins and/or leads a group, it is on their record and part of their compensation/benefits profile. “It gives us incredible data we can pull on ERGs,” says Irizarry.

• Linda Leonard, Associate Director, Talent Management & Diversity, Bristol-Myers Squibb, No. 45 in the DiversityInc Top 50, says her company uses multisource feedback providers for year-end performance review that includes input from executive sponsors for resource-group leaders. It also recognizes managers of resource-group leaders.

• Most companies have term limits for employee group leaders, usually two to three years. Mink says Dell treats these positions like succession planning. Group leaders are assigned, not elected, and their performance is reviewed to ensure they are effective.

• Quiroz notes that at Time Warner, divisions have autonomy in how they select group leaders. “There’s a fine line between democratic and dictatorial,” she says. “I think it’s really important for those groups to be represented by high-potential executives who can really speak with an authoritative voice and who could really participate with credibility in some senior-management meetings.”

3. Budget

• Hansen notes that at Abbott, all funding came from executive sponsors, but that meant that smaller groups with less prominent sponsors had less funding. As an example, the women’s group had major funding but the LGBT Pride group had far less. AbbVie is looking a different model, in which HR gives everyone the seed money, to level the playing field.

• At Time Warner, the groups are funded by the Diversity department and/or HR collaboratively.

• At MasterCard, all groups receive the same funding. “This eliminates any kind of discussion around preference or discrimination based on size or opportunity,” says Johnson. Each group gets its budget and divides it among its chapters. In some cases, larger groups have gone to divisional vice presidents or executive sponsors for extra funding.

• Felicia Johnson, Senior Diversity Analyst, Nissan North America, notes that while the same amount is provided to each of Nissan’s groups, leaders submit a budget to the Diversity department and are asked to fund extra line items they want. “So if their budget is $10,000 and they need $12,000 for programming, they have to come up with the additional $2,000.”

4. Going Global

• IBM now has 232 groups in 25–30 countries. Selling teams are global, so for the last four years, the groups have helped with cultural intelligence through online global navigators. “We’re asking the Business Resource Groups who understand the cultures … to connect them not only to the sellers in that part of the world,” says Glover, “but to have a resource that they can tap into that talks about people from those parts of the world.” For example, the women’s leadership group in Europe has a mission to reach C-suite women at client companies.

• Dell relaunched its groups three years ago as global groups. Each of CEO Michael Dell’s direct reports is an executive sponsor of a group. Three of them are truly global: WISE (Women in Search of Excellence), True Ability and GenNext. Seventy percent of True Ability’s members are now outside the United States, and True Ability and WISE have global boards. Business objectives include product placement and marketing.

5. Measuring Impact

• Hansen notes that dashboards/scorecards that align with business goals are vital in gaining organizational support. “Without meaningful business metrics, these groups are not going to be able to tell their story in a way that our business leaders care about.”

• David Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Caremark, one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies, advises companies to get senior leaders engaged by showing them benchmarking data linking increased resource-group participation to increased promotions for women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians. Karen Lemon, Vice President, Global Managed Services, AT&T, No. 13 in the DiversityInc Top 50, agrees: “The data is very compelling. Once we showed it to our Chairman (and CEO) Randall Stephenson, he bought in and executives swarmed to the resource groups.”

• Dell surveys its groups on engagement, asking if employees are involved in groups and if they are leaders. “Members that were involved in an employee-resource group globally were 24 percent more likely to be engaged, which is a pretty significant data point for us,” says Mink.

• Glover notes that the groups can be used for very vertical talent-development gaps. For example, IBM has a “real serious issue” around underrepresented racial/ethnic groups and women in technology. Three years ago, the company created a woman’s technical pipeline program, matching high-potential women with top engineer/technical mentors and rotational assignments. The program is being expanded for Black and Latino men, and resource groups are key consultants in the process.

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