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DiversityInc honors NEW sponsor American Express for ERGs

Friday, November 18, 2011  
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DiversityInc recognized Network of Executive Women gold sponsor American Express for "extraordinary achievement" with its employee resource groups at its 2011 Special Awards event, Nov. 9 and 10, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

American Express has been a leader in the types of ERGs it offers and in the effective ways it uses those groups to find and build talent, create an inclusive workplace, promote engagement, retention and productivity and reach new markets, according to DiversityInc. The company has 15 ERGs with chapters globally, providing development and networking opportunities and support for key business imperatives. Groups are funded through a mix of funding from executive sponsors, diversity councils and the diversity department. Membership in these groups is available to all permanent American Express employees.

American Express ERGs play an important role in diversity recruiting efforts, with members attending events and providing referrals for top talent, DiversityInc reported. ERG members also frequently greet new employees upon hiring and offer a sense of community. The groups are used for mentoring programs, sponsorship initiatives, development offerings and networking opportunities. They also play a critical role in creating marketing strategies and business solutions that appeal to a diverse consumer audience, the magazine noted. Some examples of real-world products coming out of ERGs include the Felicidades and Lunar New Year gift cards, which were created in partnership with the company’s global prepaid business and employee networks.

Diversity imperative

"Diversity is a business imperative, but not everyone believes that, and it’s great to be in a room full of people that do,” Anré Williams, president, global merchant services for American Express, said while accepting the award. "We recognize that diversity is important, but try to think about it beyond the way people normally do -- beyond race, religion, gender. We try to think about it globally. We have 15 different networks in 80 chapters throughout the world to create a sense of unity and community. It’s important for talent, not just in attracting people, but to find and identify people who might be great assets to the company.

"Bringing people together gives a sense of belonging and lets people know they can do more. If you don’t see it, you can’t believe it. We are all on this quest to build diversity together and we can learn a lot from each other.”

For the past three years, DiversityInc has been honoring companies with exceptional diversity management achievements in specific areas with its Special Awards. This year the magazine honored eight companies in the areas of employee resource groups, community development, talent pipeline, executive development, global cultural competence, working families and diversity management progress (two winners). Other 2011 Special Award winners were Kaiser Permanente, IBM, Prudential Financial, ADP (Automatic Data Processing) KPMG, Southern Company and CSX.

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