by Pat Elizondo, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, Transportation & Public Sector, Xerox Services
Women across the world are contributing to social, economic, cultural and political achievement and on today’s International Women’s Day (IWD), we’re celebrating the growing role of women leaders and continuing to push for gender equality.
This year’s IWD campaign theme is #PledgeForParity where everyone – men and women – can join together to help close the gender gap. We’re all leaders in our own sphere with the ability to influence change. To do so, IWD offers these examples:
- Help women and girls achieve their ambitions
- Call for gender-balanced leadership
- Respect and value difference
- Develop more inclusive and flexible cultures
- Root out workplace bias
Days like today are extremely important to the diversity movement. A more diverse workforce reflects the current changing demographics in the U.S and a switch to a plurality nation where no single racial or ethnic group will constitute a majority.
As communities continue to become more diverse, it is critical that the agencies supporting these communities reflect that same diversity so they can be engaged and responsive to their needs and concerns. Bringing together workers from different backgrounds and experiences builds a more creative, innovative, and productive workforce. As I discussed in an earlier blog post, diversity has tangible benefits to public sector organizations such as a better ability to stay in touch with the citizens they serve and attracting and retaining top talent.
The CIA is actively working to increase its diversity with a new “Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.” It is a three-point, three-year effort that focuses on weaving diversity and inclusion throughout the talent cycle, increasing the hiring and retention of people with disabilities and growing diversity of leadership.
Last year at the fifth annual New York State Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) forum, New York City Mayor David Dinkins spoke about the benefits of diversity in the public and private sectors. He discussed the importance of contracting with businesses led by women and minorities and the state’s goal of hiring these businesses for 30 percent of state contracts. Xerox chairman and CEO Ursula Burns was also part of the forum discussing diversity and its ability to make companies stronger.
Xerox knows the benefits of diversity first hand and has been nurturing a culture of inclusion and opportunity since the 1960s when the company’s founder Joseph C. Wilson first committed Xerox to a policy of diversity. This commitment received national attention when Xerox’s “Wilson Rule” diversity policy was recognized at last year’s White House Demo Day. The Wilson Rule will help drive diverse representation at all levels of management throughout Xerox and require that women and minorities be among the final pool of qualified candidates for every open management position in the U.S.
In addition to company and agency policies, new research also shows that having employees recruit for open positions can lead to a more diverse workplace. According to the research, even though employees tend to refer job seekers who are their same gender and race, what matters are referral rates. For example, immigrant groups sometimes go from being small minorities in a workplace to big majorities because their members recruit more actively within their community networks.
A diverse environment empowers employees to work collectively to bring different perspectives and new ideas that overcome challenges and meet customer and constituent needs. Examples of effective diversity programs and policies can provide a roadmap to those seeking these benefits and representation reflective of the population.
It’s not something that can be changed overnight but participating in #PledgeForParity and advocating for pervasive inclusion will not only help build strong agencies, but also strengthen the communities they support.