Deloitte thinks diversity groups are passé

By Jeff Green via bloomberg.com   Article

“Megan Schumann doesn’t seem like a woman who’d be cheerleading the end of the female advocacy group at auditing and consulting firm Deloitte LLP. The San Francisco-based consultant attended an all-girls high school at her own request and founded a women’s business group when she went to Georgetown University. But 30-year-old Schumann, who’s worked at Deloitte since graduating eight years ago, says it’s time workplace affinity groups for women and minorities were replaced by so-called inclusion councils where white men hold important seats at the table. …

With diversity progress stalling in parts of corporate America, Deloitte is beginning to shift away from traditional approaches built around gender, race, or sexual orientation and instead working to get a broader buy-in, particularly from white males. After 24 years, WIN, the women’s initiative at Deloitte, will end. Over the next 18 months the company will also phase out Globe, which supports gay employees, and groups focused solely on veterans or minority employees. In their place will be so-called inclusion councils that bring together a variety of viewpoints to work on diversity issues. …

‘We are turning it on its head for our people,’ says Deepa Purushothaman, who’s led the WIN group since 2015 and is also the company’s managing principal for inclusion. Deloitte will still focus on gender parity and underrepresented groups, she says, but not in the same way it has for the past quarter-­century, in part because millennial employees—who make up 57 percent of Deloitte’s workforce—don’t like demographic pigeonholes.

 ‘By having everyone in the room, you get more allies, advocates, and sponsors,” Purushothaman says. “A lot of our leaders are still older white men, and they need to be part of the conversation and advocate for women. But they’re not going to do that as much if they don’t hear the stories and understand what that means. …

No company in recent memory has been as vocal as Deloitte about the need to turn the page, surprising some diversity advocates. ‘I have to say that is really unusual,’ says Jennifer Brown, a consultant who helps companies create employee programs focused on racial or gender identity. ‘I have not heard of a single company doing that.’

Brown says older workers in Generation X and baby boomers are more comfortable with diversity approaches centered on individual groups of like employees. “We need these groups until such time as people of like identity don’t need to close the door and seek a safe space,” she says. ‘We’re not there yet.'”

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