As Leaders, How Do We Create A Culture Of Inclusion?

We must all come together to find a solution.

Presented by PWC

Diverse talent is all around us, coming from all corners of the globe: from Wall Street and Silicon Valley, from government and academia, rural plains and cities―you name it. In today’s ever-changing global economy, we must strive to create a corporate culture of inclusion and affirmation where all employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. When we provide an environment that allows our team members to be themselves, they are more productive, eager to take on new challenges, and incentivized to remain loyal to our organizations.

At First Data we pride ourselves on extending our culture of inclusion beyond our four walls. We depend on our diverse global workforce – whom we refer to as owner-associates rather than just employees – to deliver superior technology solutions to our clients, and we look to a diverse network of suppliers for our own goods and services. First Data is committed to partnering with certified, high-quality minority, veteran, LGBT, and women-owned businesses in the supply chain.

Our diversity and inclusion programs and policies have been lauded by numerous organizations including DiversityInc, Military Times, and GLSEN - but they represent only one part of our broader corporate citizenship strategy. We recognize that operating as a responsible corporate citizen is both an opportunity and a commitment. Corporate citizenship leads our enterprise-wide effort to create a nurturing, comfortable workplace where owner-associates can professionally-develop. We actively seek out avenues to maximize diversity, creating opportunities within the communities in which we live and serve.

We capitalize on resources that are already dedicated to diversity, relevant passions, and community engagement efforts in a structured, comprehensive and metric-driven way, creating shared value, deeper impact for our stakeholders and more return on investment for our company.

We have already begun to see meaningful change in our communities—a great example of which is First Data’s family leave policy. First Data believes diversity in family means supporting all family structures, including single and same-sex parents, who welcome a child biologically or through surrogate, adoption, or foster child placement. First Data believes that an inclusive, gender-neutral family leave policy is essential to cultivating an atmosphere where owner-associates can thrive professionally, without sacrificing essential family obligations.

Beginning this year, First Data introduced an enhanced policy that provides parents, regardless of gender, with the necessary time to care for their new child without the worry of financial obstacles that come with unpaid leave. First Data’s policy also distinguishes between Primary and Secondary caregivers, supporting the company’s diverse families. More information on these benefits can be found here.

A steadfast commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion takes time and effort, requiring a top-down approach to effectively integrate that commitment into business strategy. I believe that all of our senior leaders at First Data are responsible for driving these efforts.

Here’s why:

  • It is good for the bottom line: Studies have shown that companies with more diverse workforces make more money. McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns. For gender diversity, that number is 15%. And companies in the bottom quartile for diversity were less likely to achieve above-average results.
  • It is good for your clients: Companies with diverse teams bring greater value to clients by opening them up to new possibilities, ideas, and perspectives.
  • It drives innovation: Diversity of thought drives product development innovation and helps facilitate a more collaborative business environment. A Deloitte study found that when employees “think their organization is committed to and supportive of diversity and they feel included,” there’s an 83% increase in their ability to innovate.
  • It is important for hiring and retaining talent: A survey by Glassdoor found that 67% of people said a “diverse workforce was an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.”
  • Millennials will expect it: The sustainability and growth of the business going forward depends on it. Those who don’t embrace the shift now may never catch up. In less than 10 years, millennials will comprise nearly 75% of the workforce and don’t stay in one position for long.

There are many barriers on the path to a more diverse and inclusive workplace. What business leaders must keep in mind is that Diversity and Inclusion is a multi-year strategy. As CEOs, we must share best practices and learnings to avoid the pitfalls. Participating in coalitions and initiatives that support and encourage the exchange of ideas and best practices, and in networking opportunities that enable us to join forces to solve these issues, are effective ways that business leaders can work together to take action.

No one organization has all of the right answers, but we hope that by sharing our perspective and learning from others, we can continue to make improvements in this vital effort.


In this series, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ signatory CEOs share their dedication to acting for workplace diversity and inclusion to make impactful changes that benefit both business and society. Follow along with #CEOAction and learn more at