Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Inclusive Society: Diversity Panel Preview

Summit logoAndres Tapia, the chief diversity officer at Hewitt Associates, took a few minutes from a busy schedule to discuss his expectations for the Diversity Roundtable set for Friday, Feb. 5, as part of the Wake Forest University Marketing Summit.

Paul Davis of Firsthand Experiences conducted this online Q&A, giving a hint of what to expect in just a matter of days:

PD: What do you hope to accomplish from your appearance on the panel?

AT: To be part of making the compelling case that each graduate going into the workplace can make a significant contribution to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace that ends up being profitable for business, employees, society, and our communities.

PD: Do you have a particular message to share with attendees?

AT: Don't fall for the either/or, zero-sum, polarizing thinking currently strangling us all. Instead become part of creating a both/and, win-win, inclusive society. Let's stop demonizing those we don't agree with and instead create bridges of understanding. And this goes beyond just understanding each other, or tolerating each other, or being sensitive to each other's differences. Instead it means embracing that "I need your difference … and you need mine."

PD: What is your company doing to foster diversity? timthumb

AT: Many things! But too many to detail here. In a nutshell, for us at Hewitt it's doing the classics of diversifying our sourcing and creating an attractive value proposition to all kinds of talent. And just as important, continuing to create an inclusive environment that not only is ready for those who look different, but most importantly, think different.

PD: How would you measure the success of those efforts?

AT: Diverse representation from the bottom to the top of the organization A highly engaged and motivated workforce that wants to say they work for a great company, want to stay, and want to serve. Greater product and service innovation. Increased quality. Increased efficiency. Revenue growth. Margin growth. That's all!

PD: How well do you know the other participants and how would you size up the quality of the overall panel?

AT: OMG! It's an awesome panel. These D&I leaders are the real deal. Not only in terms of deep running rivers of passion but also in terms of mind-bending knowledge and, most importantly, irrefutable results

PD: What is the optimal work environment from the perspective of diversity?

AT: I believe that diversity is the mix and inclusion is making the mix work. You can have mix but it may not be working well. You may have inclusion but not have diversity. An optimal environment is where you have both diversity and inclusion in spades. Where people from all walks of life can come and do their best work and, in the process, make our world -- through our companies -- a better place.

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