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Colleges, Corporations Work Together on Inclusion

Dr. Benjamin Reese is president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.Dr. Benjamin Reese is president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

EVANSTON, Ill. — To make it clear that corporations have put muscle behind their diversity and inclusion initiatives, leading executives at the first ever Chief Diversity Officer Summit shared some of the practices and models that have been applied within their organizations with various measures of success.

One strategy embraced by Deloitte LLP, for instance, involves building relationships within the growing “open-talent economy,” or that pool of individuals who prefer taking on discreet assignments rather than being full-time employees. They are “non-balance sheet individuals who provide service in exchange for payment,” explained Carolyn O’Boyle during a spotlight session called “A Garden of Talent.  O’Boyle leads Deloitte’s Talent Strategic Initiatives team.

Open talent can be identified within a number of sources, a talent community, alumni networks or LinkedIn. For Deloitte, those sources have helped it develop a new model of inclusion. Through that and other efforts, the professional services firm has a leadership that is 65 percent women and minority, according to Deborah DeHaas, vice chair, chief inclusion officer for Deloitte, who moderated the session.

In a keynote address, Tony Byers, director, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Starbucks Coffee Co., urged people to transform organizational thinking and look for ways “to push people to move beyond understanding [company] values and actually living them.”

The three-day summit, Sept. 30- Oct. 2, hosted by Northwestern University’s Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute, brought together more than 140 leading chief diversity officers (CDOs) from higher education, corporate, government, non-profit and the military to discuss the latest academic research, trends and leading practices in the area of diversity and inclusion. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) co-sponsored the summit, which grew out of a conversation last year between Benjamin Reese, president of NADOHE, and Diana I. Cordova, clinical professor of Executive Education and Academic Director at the Kellogg School of Management.

In bringing together the various sectors, two themes cut across them all, said Reese, who is also vice president for institutional equity at Duke University and the Duke University Health System. Those themes relate to creating diverse leadership and environments that bring together people with lots of different skills, competencies, on behalf of increasing profits, in the case of corporations.

“The corollary in higher education is bringing together students and administrators and paying attention to an environment that encourages employees to exchange different ideas, that encourage students to learn from each other,” Reese said.

Many organizations in recent years have begun to combine the work of diversity and corporate social responsibility, noted Connie Lindsey, executive vice president and head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity and Inclusion for Northern Trust in Chicago. “When you talk about resources, sustainability, ethics and governance, it’s important that diversity and inclusion are a part of that work as well,” said Lindsey, a panelist for a session that explored top trends of CSR leaders.

Jeanne Arnold, Chief Diversity Officer, Diversity & Inclusion for Gettysburg College, was thrilled for the opportunity that brought together CDOs from higher education and corporate. She came hoping each could borrow from the other, but more important, she saw the time as a way to “strengthen the pipeline of who’s coming into the workforce because that’s what business needs, but we also need that in higher ed.”

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