Research Proposal

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


To gain an understanding of best practices for introducing diversity, equity, and inclusion, in the workplace, as well as case studies of companies leading the way in DE&I.

Early Findings

Best Practices

  • In order to build an effective DE&I strategy, the entire leadership must be onboard, sending a strong, consistent message. Building a strong business case featuring the bottom-line benefits of a DE&I strategy can help win senior management support.
  • The leadership team should develop a meaningful "shared language" that resonates with employees. Developing a shared language will help team members feel equipped to have thoughtful and engaging discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Conduct DE&I training with participation from all employees, including senior leadership. This approach shows a committment from senior leadership rather than a focus on legal risks.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion should be a part of the overall company strategy, not a stand-alone initiative. The DE&I mission should be aligned with the overall company strategic priorities.
  • According to Neddy Perez, Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Ingersoll Rand, in order for a DE&I program to be sustainable, the company must "identify what system changes need to happen; find out who are the informal leaders and engage them; and identify and engage two to three senior leaders in the process that can become strong advocates."
  • B Lab, a non-profit focused on helping businesses address social challenges, has created a Best Practice Guide for introducing DE&I in the workplace. The guide provides activities and resources in addition to best practices.

Case Studies

Barilla Group

  • In 2013, the chairman of the Barilla Group initiated a media storm with comments about not featuring same-sex couples in advertising campaigns. The company received a lot of backlash and had to quickly decide how to respond.
  • The company decided to handle the issue head-on by developing a DE&I strategy. The first move was to appoint Talita Erickson as the company's first Chief Diversity Officer. In addition, the company created a D&I Board that consisted of "10 senior level employees and a separate external advisory board, which includes three high profile public figures, including a civil rights activist, a paralympic champion, and an esteemed academic leader."
  • Erickson and the board began their strategy by assessing the organization to determine prevailing skills gaps, raise awareness, and develop a strong business case for DE&I.
  • During the assessment process, the board determined that employing a third-party partner to guide the board would help lend credibility and would convince leaders that "that D&I needed to be firmly embedded into the company’s culture."
  • With the external partner, Barilla began focusing on three areas in order to build the companies DE&I strategy: First, the board initiated a D&I survey for all employees within the company. At the same time, the board participted in a two-day session with company executives to define the value proposition for DE&I highlighting the quantitative and qualitative benefits of inclusiveness in the workforce. Finally, focus groups were held with employees all over the world to assess the "day-to-day realities" of the company.
  • Information derived from the survey, executive session, and focus groups was used to develop the training material and HR policies and procedures. Barilla rolled out its diversity training program in 2014 with all employees completing training over the next two years.
  • The Barilla DE&I strategy has been a success, with the company recieving a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index since 2014.
  • According to Erickson, "All the work we’re doing is to embed D&I into our day-to-day activities and show how it can help drive strategy, and provide a measurable impact on business performance—in a marketplace that is increasingly diverse. Sure, we are about pasta, sauces, and baked goods, but how people eat and prepare these various foods can really vary around the world and within each country. There is no doubt that a truly diverse workforce will help us achieve a greater competitive advantage on the global stage."

Jazz Aviation

  • Jazz Aviation began working toward diversity and inclusion when it hired its first dedicated D&I role in 2009. The role originated out of a need that was identified in a multi-faith space at one of the airlines largest facilities. Erica Fuhr was hired to take on the role of D&I lead.
  • Fuhr set out to understand the gaps in the company's current policies and employment equity. She performed a gap analysis and an employment equity survey. She also attended conferences to see what other companies were doing.
  • She discovered, that while the company had the right training and values for diversity, the employees were not engaged. With this discovery, the compay and Fuhr began to develop a plan to foster diversity by engaging the employees through explicit conversation.
  • The first step was to include a diversity segment in the company newsletter that celebrated religious and cultural events. This resulted in employees offering content and suggestions for future segments. The segment became so popular that a separate diversity newsletter soon followed.
  • This initative led to heritage potluck dinners that opened up opportunities for employees to discuss their heritage over food. In addition, large maps were placed on walls in the airline's hangars around the world. Employees were given stickers to point out places they were from or their families were from.
  • As the internal D&I program began to flourish, Jazz turned its focus to targeted recruitment in partnership with external organizations such as the Aboriginal Futures Employment Services, Ontario Job Opportunity Information Network (JOIN), PRIDE at Work Canada, and Immigrant Services for Nova Scotia.
  • The company launched an Employee Multicultural Network with a mission “to reflect our diverse community by working together to recruit and develop new Canadians and visible minorities through increasing representation, fostering innovation and inclusiveness, and providing equal access to learning and development opportunities.”
  • In 2014, the company was ready to formalize its diversity strategy. Believing that leadership is essential in building a successful diversity and inclusion strategy, Colin Cupp, the company's President and CEO published his support of the company's pledge: “At Jazz, we work together. Facilitating inclusion by acknowledging the unique and diverse perspectives of all individuals creates one incredible team of employees – and we celebrate that.”
  • Jazz has now been the reciepent of several diversity awards. “Diversity has been a long-standing priority at Jazz,” attests Colin Copp, President. “Being selected one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for five years in a row attests to our efforts to create a working environment where employees feel that they are part of a collective team that supports individuality.”
Prepared By
Teresa W.
726 assignments | 5.0