July 21st, 2011 | 1:00 pm

Four Innovative Initiatives to Attract and Retain Diverse Women

filed under Industry Leaders

By Tina Vasquez (Los Angeles)

Recently, Working Mother Magazine released its 2011 list of the best places to work for multicultural women – essentially, a survey of the availability and usage of diversity programs, as well as the accountability of the managers who oversee them at top corporations. For the fifth year in a row, Pepsico has been named number one, along with with 23 other companies, all of which are committed to supporting women of color with strong diversity, leadership, and education programs. Here are four of the most innovative initiatives included on 2011 list, that help advance and retain diverse women.

IBM
IBM’s cutting edge Reverse Mentoring pilot program turned mentoring on its head. Ten senior executives were given the opportunity to choose a culture they wanted to learn more about and for 10 months, and multicultural women (who were primarily non-executives) from these cultures acted as their mentors, helping them better understand cultural differences. The need for the program was identified as a key initiative of the Multicultural Women’s Group at the company, whose mission it is to attract, retain, and develop women through mentoring, networking, fostering a sense of community, and exchanging information.

According to Angela Archon, IBM’s VP of systems and technology, the program promoted cultural sensitivity and adaptability and demonstrated the impact of globalization and why culture matters.

“The hallmark of the program was to increase knowledge and sensitivity around cultural differences and continuously improve global collaboration. It helped dispel myths; it provided clarity to issues related to stereotyping; and it increased cultural awareness,” Archon said. “Executive mentees gained knowledge about their mentor’s culture and how business is done in that culture and the multicultural women who served as mentors had the opportunity to build a relationship with an IBM executive and enhance their leadership capabilities.”

Deloitte
It should come as no surprise that the ever impressive Deloitte was featured on Mother’s list for the sixth year in a row.

This year, two of Deloitte’s programs were spotlighted on the list: Navigation to Excellence and the Leadership Acceleration Program. After an internal survey of almost 4,000 multicultural employees, the firm found that multicultural women desired more formal sponsorship, so Deloitte launched its Navigation to Excellence pilot program, a one-year program that matches female managers and senior managers of color with leaders who help them orchestrate a career plan, gain access to key assignments, and enhance their knowledge of what it takes to advance. The 18-month Leadership Acceleration Program even allows female partners and principals to shadow their sponsors on the job, receiving intensive mentoring and coaching.

To continue moving these types of initiatives forward, the firm has quietly invested $300 million towards the creation of a state-of-the-art learning and leadership development center that will open its doors this fall after two years of construction.

According to Barbara Adachi, the National Managing Principal for Deloitte’s award-winning Women’s Initiative, it was never the firm’s intention to be a leader, but awards and recognition such as those given by Working Mother, inspires them to keep moving forward.

“We’re our biggest critics and we’re our biggest motivators. We don’t do this for the publicity. Diversity is a business imperative here. I recently read that half the population will be comprised of minorities in 2050 and I strongly believe that by being diverse, we attract the top talent in the market and we better serve our clients,” Adachi said. “We’re not doing this because it’s the right thing to do, but because this is the way business should be done.”

Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
This is the third time Chubb has been featured on Working Mother’s list, but the company has a long-standing commitment to promoting diversity with decades old programs and initiatives in place. According to Trevor Gandy, Chubb’s chief diversity officer, in order to form lasting business relationships with customers and become a true global leader in the industry, the company must understand its customer’s “diverse cultures and decisional processes- and not merely their languages.” To do so, the company strives to create a diverse workplace through programs such as their Count Me In: A Culture of Inclusion micro inequities program. The program began over 10 years ago and aims to help the company educate their workforce on the often small details and behaviors that help build an atmosphere in which all employees feel they have a voice.

Chubb also has a 29-year-old Minority Development Council whose mission is to advance the company’s business objectives by fostering the career development of people of color into leadership roles. Even more impressive, the company’s Women of Color strategy strengthens the bonds between women of color and their managers by providing them with meaningful feedback and structured development plans. The overriding goal, according to Gandy, is to prepare the company’s female multicultural employees to compete for leadership positions.

CA Technologies
Like Chubb, CA Technologies firmly believes that their business relationships in more than 140 countries drives their commitment to workplace diversity and it enables them to create, support, and sell the best IT management software.

The company’s Women in Technology Mentoring program is geared towards female employees that are in technical and quasi-technical roles within the company’s technology and development organization. The program was established to ensure that female employees are provided with the appropriate environment, knowledge, and sponsorship to achieve their full potential within the company. The company also supports the pursuit of higher education and provides up to $5,250 a year in financial assistance to eligible employees completing undergraduate and graduate level courses. CA Technologies also offers 15,000 online courses that employees can access. An adoption assistance program includes reimbursement of adoption-related expenses up to a maximum of $5,000 per child and $10,000 per family within a two-year period.

CA Technologies also aims to help working parents, so nearly 30 percent of the company’s North American employees participate in a full-time telecommuting or work from home program. The company also has Global Marketing and Finance associate rotation programs that were developed as a way to attract and develop entry level candidates and enable them to jump start their professional career with structured training programs, job shadowing, and access to mentors.

According to CA Technologies’ VP of human resources, Beth Conway, the company is focused on fostering diversity both inside and outside the company.

“In addition to our efforts within the company, we’re also an active partner of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the impact of women on all aspects of technology,” Conway said. “We also sponsor ABI’s annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in the U.S. and India. We’re dedicated to helping the leaders of tomorrow develop their talents and career paths by providing and encouraging a collaborative working environment.”

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