Best Practices

D&I Initiatives That Focus on Women of Color

August 2020
Topics Allyship

Women’s ERGs still tend to be dominated by white voices in corporate America even though in many cases, women of color have different experiences and perspectives on gender-based issues.

It is important that a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts reflect the experiences of women of color.

This report offers best practices from companies that have made it a point to include and acknowledge women of color.

The Need for D&I and ERGs to Support Women of Color

Women’s ERGs still tend to be dominated by white voices in corporate America even though in many cases, women of color have different experiences and perspectives on gender-based issues.

It is important that a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts reflect the experiences of women of color.

Corporate leaders need to focus on diversity and inclusion effort that take an intersectional approach, as coined by academic Kimberlé Crenshaw, to identify barriers that women of color face, due to the impact of their race and gender.

One way is to: commit to funding and supporting employee resource groups (ERGs), particularly affinity groups for black employees.

Often companies have a women’s affinity group often run by white women and you see women of color beginning to leave because they don’t share the same concerns.

When you address underrepresented communities in the organization, companies have a better shot at creating an inclusive environment.

ERGs Can:

• Serve as advisors in the creation of leadership development programs to ensure they are inclusive of multiple dimensions of diversity
• Facilitate mentorship and sponsorship programs
• Host networking events to expose members to senior leaders
• Leverage their executive sponsors for opportunities to shine a light on ERG leaders and their work
• Create partnerships with external professional organizations to offer professional development opportunities for their members
• Provide training and development of future needed skillsets (e.g. technology, data analytics, managing in a global and inclusive environment)

Best Practices of Including Women of Color

L’Oreal USA, the number 1 company on Working Mother’s Best Companies for
Multicultural Women list offers a Women of Color Think tank which inspires multicultural women with professional development and external community work.

It is focused on supporting an inclusive community to engage, inspire, and develop women of color. The Women of Color Think Tank serves to promote professional advancement; drive total business performance, impact the external community, and ensure that L’Oréal USA is a great place to work for women of color.

One employee ‘s testimonial: “Success, at any level, is not achieved alone. Being part of a group of women who serve as mentors, resources, advocates and confidants to each other is invaluable.”

Medidata Solutions Women of Color (WoC – ‘woke’) ERG

The fundamental goal for the Women of Color ERG at Medidata was to establish a safe space community for underrepresented women. One strategic goal was to increase employee engagement, and thereby increase visibility of women of color employees in all areas of the business.

Thanks to several key projects, programs, and initiatives, the ERG was able to attain growth and engagement goals in an unprecedented way, and set the standard for ERG operation and engagement for the company.

The results include:
• 183% growth in ERG Leadership from 6 at end of 2018 to 20 in 2019 (defined as women doing the ERG work)
• 50% growth in overall membership, including allies
• Hosted and co-hosted more than 23 programs in 2019, with more than 40+ people at one location for one event
• Solidified ongoing presence of WoC representatives at New Hire Orientation
• Sent two ERG leaders to external speaking engagements as company representatives

Kellogg Company’s Women of Kellogg (WOK) ERG spent 2019 pushing the conversation on gender equity and diversity forward, including fruitful partnerships with other B/ERGs.

WOK teamed up with internal and external partners to host two speaker sessions, one focused on gender equity and the other on the experiences of women of color in the workplace.

On International Women’s Day, several panelists were invited to speak on the importance of gender equity, attracting over 700 attendees.

WOK joined forces with HOLA and Kellogg African American Resource Group (KAARG), along with the Network of Executive Women, to host a speaker session entitled, “Advancing All Women: How Women of Color Experience the Workplace.”

Comcast partnered with Reach Mama Network celebrated Moms of Color during Women’s History Month.

A collaboration with Comcast California and Reach Mama Network hosted a Women’s History Month event to recognize the many contributions of mothers – especially moms of color—who work at Comcast.

This event featured an engaging panel discussion and a networking reception with the Comcast Women’s Network employee resource group. The conversation highlighted inspirational stories from moms in leadership about their career journeys.

Tesla’s LGBTQ, women’s, and Intersectionality ERGs collaborated to do a film screening of Paris is Burning in honor of the trans women of color who are foundational to Pride celebrations.

Bringing the ERGs together for events shows solidarity and promotes understanding of multiple experiences.

It also creates the opportunity for conversations among members of the different ERGs, creating deeper connections and a broader sense of community.

JPMorgan Chase has an initiative to build cohorts. The company sends 20-40 women each year to Working Mother’s Multicultural Women’s National Conference. That group becomes a Women of Color cohort for JPMC.

Over the year they are supplemented with networking and development. Once they attend MCW and develop over the year, that cohort then mentors the next year’s cohort.

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