The world is changing at a dramatic pace and business has to be constructively disruptive to stay relevant.
But as new global trends emerge, there is one that has remained constant, an escalating issue at the forefront of thoughtful and progressive business leaders who embrace the composition of their workforce and senior teams. These leaders know without hesitation that the journey to realize a diverse and fully inclusive culture is far from easy but a commitment that is imperative to embrace for the success of the marketplace, our communities and our emerging and future talent.
In the month since 150 CEOs pledged to support the first-of-its kind CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ initiative—which requires a commitment to cultivating workplaces that support open dialogue on the complex and difficult issues around diversity and inclusion, implementation or expansion of unconscious bias education, and sharing practices and actions (including being candid about unsuccessful efforts) to advance Diversity and Inclusion—I’m proud to see nearly 100 more CEO Action signatories are taking the pledge. These business leaders are united in the conclusion that diversity and inclusion cannot be viewed or positioned as a competitive advantage where some lose, but rather a societal issue that it will take our individual and collective voices to advance action across the board to make a meaningful difference.
These new signatories represent millions of employees who are led by CEOs who believe that diversity and inclusion are both a core competency of workplace culture and a critical business imperative. Diversity and inclusion have been shown to be key drivers of business innovation and economic growth. Companies with diverse teams perform better and organizations that embrace diversity and foster inclusion experience increased employee engagement. I believe we build strength through diversity.
As PwC’s Chief Purpose Officer, seeing our purpose—building trust in society and solving important problems—in action, and in such a tangible way as with the CEO Action initiative, I am inspired by our US Chairman and Senior Partner Tim Ryan. Through his authentic leadership to bring the firm’s purpose, and his own, to life by addressing one of our nation’s most complex and urgent social issues, he is helping to engage leaders—and in some cases competitors—from nearly 70 industries across the country. By promoting an open exchange of ideas, ensuring transparency around diversity and inclusion efforts, and collaborating to create and share a robust catalog of effective programs and practices, we are working collectively to address an important problem and build trust.
It’s important to note the CEO Action pledge is not symbolic. Not just “sign on the dotted line.” By definition, a pledge is a “promise” and an “undertaking”—and an undertaking means action. On the initiative’s website CEOAction.com, organizations have already shared almost 250 examples of specific programs they have implemented around diversity and inclusion. This includes information about outcomes; targeted recruitment strategies; unconscious bias programs; company policies around family leave and pay equity; onboarding and mentorship to optimize the chance for success and advancement; efforts to improve representation on boards and in senior management; and support for affinity groups, among many other topics. The goal moving forward is to strengthen existing programs and continue to evolve strategies that reinforce our collective commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity. In November, CEOs will gather for the first CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ Summit in New York City to consider next steps to make certain that the “pledge” continues to evolve from promise to undertaking with concrete actions to support other organizations on their journey to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
There is, of course, no single or complete solution and every organization must follow its own authentic journey. But the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ is an important and purposeful step in the right direction. Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, and it is one of the few places where many of us interact daily across racial and ethnic lines, so business cannot stand still when we have the opportunity—and the obligation—to inspire change.
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 CEOAction.com