Driving Diversity Through Cultural Change

Most company leaders today understand that making progress with diversity and inclusion is a journey of cultural change that they must undertake. BCG has extensive experience supporting organizations through major cultural change programs—partnering with companies to deliver change that increases diversity and is part of a broader cultural transformation.

Understanding the Baseline

The first step is to understand the starting point. Companies need to identify the key pain points—through employee surveys, existing data, and other metrics and feedback. Once those points are clear, leaders can put in place the right interventions to address them.

Addressing Unconscious Bias

We know from our research that addressing unconscious bias is an essential step in ensuring that diverse talent is recruited and retained—and can advance through an organization. In particular, addressing bias in recruiting and promotion decisions is key. BCG has experience working collaboratively with clients to identify biases, develop the toolkit to support behavioral change, and cascade solutions throughout the organization.

Engaging the Workforce

Employee engagement is a critical factor in how companies perform, yet senior-level women at many organizations are less engaged than their male colleagues. This gap creates two problems:

  • Companies whose employees aren’t engaged have weaker financial performance.
  • If promising women leave their jobs, companies’ leadership teams will be less diverse—causing an additional financial penalty.

Among companies with the highest overall engagement levels, there is no difference in engagement between men and women. Among those with lower engagement levels, senior women—the tier representing future executives—are less engaged than senior men.

Leaders can address the engagement gap by rewriting the rules for how people interact at work, fostering peer-to-peer connections, and holding themselves accountable for results. Such interventions will improve the engagement of all employees.

Apprenticeship in Action

Many companies continue to struggle with advancing and retaining women within their workforce, and traditional workplace concerns—such as work-life balance, maternity leave, and differential ambitions—do not completely explain the gender disparities in senior cohorts. The other missing link for women is a high-quality, day-to-day apprenticeship experience in the workplace.

Company leaders can take the following three actions to implement meaningful apprenticeships and improve overall retention and advancement:

  • Embed apprenticeship into the delivery of core products and services. Identify a model that develops needed talent and resonates with the diverse set of employees. Monitor the impact of the apprenticeship model.
  • Prioritize and monitor relationships. Build opportunities for relationships to develop and flourish. For high-performing talent and underrepresented groups, ensure they have performance-enhancing relationships at all levels.
  • Encourage diverse strengths and styles. A truly diverse organization that reaps the benefits of diversity needs to value a range of communication and working styles. Feedback should build on the differentiating strengths of the individual rather than their weaknesses.

How We Closed the Gap Between Men’s and Women’s Retention Rates

Leadership and Talent Development

Most efforts at developing leaders and talent fail, yet the need for exceptional leadership at all levels has never been clearer. The key to sustainable business success is a tight link between leadership and value creation. Either done in isolation of the other leads to inferior, unstable outcomes. Taken together and tightly integrated with value creation, leadership and talent development can be an engine by which companies consistently outperform.

Integrated leadership development enables sustained advantage by aligning leadership and talent systems and processes—while continuously measuring results to drive further improvement.

The approach builds capabilities and drives value through a three-step approach:

  1. Define leadership and talent priorities.
  2. Design and deliver development programs.
  3. Embed talent management capabilities and systems.

Latest Thinking

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion