THE BLOG
10/22/2014 05:46 pm ET Updated Dec 22, 2014

Going Beyond the Numbers: Strengthening Company Culture by Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion

Corporate diversity programs often have a singular focus: to boost the number of diverse employees to make the company's workforce more representative of the general population. Seems logical, but does diversity in numbers automatically equate to an inclusive culture? Not necessarily.

The key to success is to forget the notion that diversity is a tactic, and instead recognize it as a company value - something that is embedded in the organization from the top down, through and through. It is how you engage with and view the world, how you do business and how you treat every employee, colleague, customer and stakeholder.

Therefore, the big question shouldn't only be, 'how can we bring in more diverse employees?', but also, 'how can we change our organization's culture so that it embraces diversity?' Because if you change the numbers without changing the culture, nothing will truly change.

Diversity needs to go beyond a statistic on your annual report and become something that is valued, desired and leveraged by the organization as a whole - from junior employees to the board of directors, from the skills that bring about innovation to the food in the cafeteria.

Here are seven ways companies can take diversity beyond the numbers:

  1. Walk the Talk: Bring diversity to your leadership team (e.g. board of directors, senior teams) to ensure that a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives are represented at the very top.
  2. Develop Your People: Promote education, training and professional development of all employees, including trainings which focus on unconscious bias and those which focus on specific groups such as women and professionals of color, to bring them up as leaders.
  3. Bring Communities Together: Bring your employees together through employee resource groups - grassroots networks of employees who connect with one another to explore shared cultural interests, perspectives, values, and career development needs.
  4. Create a Pipeline: Through community and professional partnerships, investment and development to sow the seeds for a diverse workforce now and for years to come.
  5. Build an Inclusive Workplace: Unlock the potential of your organization to find success as a business through creativity, innovation and positive disruption as a way to transform the lives of your employees, customers and stakeholders.
  6. Talent Reviews: Ensure diversity is a key component in the assessment of your talent by constantly searching for new ways to improve the diversity of the company and challenging the organization to continuously evolve and improve.
  7. Have Fun: Have moments at the office to celebrate individual diversity through activities designed by individuals and teams and supported by the company.
At the end of the day, numbers do still have their benefits. They help you set goals, track progress and aim for something greater.

Across the tech industry, there are several initiatives working to promote diversity and inclusion. A good example of this is National Center for Women & Information Technology's (NCWIT) "Aspirations in Computing Talent Development Initiative" which is supported by Google, Intel and Microsoft. NCWIT's program is designed to increase female participation in technology careers by providing visibility, leadership opportunities, scholarships and internships to aspiring technically-inclined young women. This is a great example of an initiative to sow the seeds of diversity in our future workforce.

Diversity is more than just race, gender and ethnicity. It's about creating a workforce that embraces every language, age, sexual orientation, disability, background, culture and experience - and giving a voice to those differences is how we define inclusion. Companies who can embrace a diversity of perspectives throughout their organizations will stand apart. You will see it in their people, but also in their innovative, forward-thinking products, decision making and services.

I look forward to seeing more progress across our industry and the business world!

At Symantec, we strive to be just as diverse as the world we live in. And as part of our newly released CR Report, we set a goal that by 2020, we will increase the diversity of our entire workforce by 15 percent. For more information, click here.