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Industry leaders champion D&I at NEW Diversity Forum

Sunday, March 4, 2012  
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More than 23o members of the Network of Executive Women explored diversity and inclusion "from the workplace to the marketplace" at the NEW CPG Retail Diversity Forum 2012, March 6-8 in Dallas.

The Forum opened with special remarks from Tom Greco, president of Frito-Lay North America, and included remarks by Anthony Carter, vice president, global diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for Johnson & Johnson; Linda Clement-Holmes, chief diversity officer and senior vice president, Global Business Services for Procter & Gamble; Sue Dodsworth, vice president, global diversity officer for Kimberly-Clark; and Grant LaMontagne, senior vice president and chief diversity officer for the Clorox Company.

Greco,who was inducted into the Network's CPG Retail Diversity Hall of Fame last year, said diversity and inclusion is a business imperative, not a "nice to have.” He said that while the consumer products and retail industry has made "unbelievable progress, it faces undeniable challenges" in realizing the full potential of diversity and inclusion as a business strategy Senior management must have a consistent focus on D&I to sustain the momentum already created, Greco said, noting there is still a disconnect between traditional career paths and today’s multi-generational employee.

"Multicultural and multigenerational differences require us to change some of our practices,” he said. "Employees have to see more women succeeding in leadership positions in a company.”

To excel, companies must better define the steps needed to ensure women advance to leadership positions and excel when they get those positions. Companies’ top leaders must understand the business case for diversity and inclusion exists and that diversity without inclusion is always destined to fail. Women, he said, must build strong networks and be willing to take risks when making career moves.  "Accept a job that takes you out of your comfort zone,” Greco advised the audience.

Greco was followed by a Dinner Dialogue featuring Grant LaMontagne, senior vice president, chief customer officer for The Clorox Company, and Sue Dodsworth, chief diversity officer for Kimberly-Clark Corporation, who offered insights on the role diversity and inclusion plays in their companies.

Dodsworth said that Kimberly-Clark has nurtured "a culture of accountability” to advance diversity and inclusion. "It's about understanding diversity as a good business practice. You have to have 100-percent backing from your CEO. It's not about the ‘right thing to do.’ It's about the business."

"I knew if Clorox was going to be successful,” LaMontagne said, "we had to be representative of the people we were selling to. We had to change the way we work and make diversity and inclusion a business imperative. This is the time for diversity and inclusion -- our [industry’s] health and welfare are at stake.”

Transforming business

Anthony Carter, vice president, global diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for Johnson & Johnson, described the link between D&I and the bottom-line in the Forum's opening keynote March 7. While "diversity” focuses on who we are, "inclusion” encompasses how we work together, Carter said. This ultimately factors into the retention of all employees. Improving representation of groups in the workplace provides a new "lens,” that can lead companies to innovative solutions to problems they did not know existed, he said.

Attendees also heard a lively presentation on the African-American consumer from Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president, public affairs and government relations for Nielsen. The African-American community, she noted, represents more than $900 billion in buying power. These consumers are ready to be marketed to on their terms, including mobile media and traditional media channels.

The NEW Diversity Forum included three two-hour Super Session workshops focused on the workplace, the marketplace and supplier diversity. At the "Workplace: Retaining Diverse Talent” workshop, Kenneth Charles, vice president, diversity and inclusion for General Mills; Katherine Giscombe, vice president, diverse women and inclusion research for Catalyst; and Sue Johnson, global head of gender balance and diversity, shared best-in-class talent retention strategies.

Gender stereotyping is the number-one barrier to advancement, as women are seen as people who "take care” while men are seen as people who "take charge,” Giscombe said. Also, men are promoted on potential, but women are promoted on performance. What’s more, men have more high-level mentors who provide more sponsorship.

Charles noted the goal of a gender diverse workforce is "not to retain everyone. We’re creating greater business value by retaining employees who provide the greatest contribution,” he said.

Johnson recommended women begin managing non-linear career. "We must keep evolving the mindset so that we can chose when and where we work,” she said. "We need to go at the speed of the culture.”

Building Bridges

During the "Marketplace: Building Bridges to Diverse Consumers” Super Session, Steve Garcia, founder and president of Lynx Marketing; Jacqueline Reynolds,executive vice president, chief development officer for Lambesis; and Linda Singh, senior marketing director, fragrances for Coty Inc., explored ways companies can identify, target and build relationships with consumers in multicultural market segments. Hispanic, Asian, African-American: the mentality of these groups is enterprising -- female Latinas account for the highest growth rate in opening up businesses -- and hopeful. They’re experiencing retro-acculturation, a renewed sense of cultural pride, the panelists explained.

Garcia, Reynolds and Singh cautioned that companies looking to understand and embrace multicultural consumers should recognize the difference between cultural cues and stereotypes. Value the input of the talent in the organization, they advised; building a diverse workforceis a cost-effective way to get feedback to move the hearts and minds of multicultural consumers.

"Supplier Diversity: The Secret to Better Business” focused on the link between supplier diversity and organizational sustainability. Panelists Gleatha Glispie, vice president, supplier diversity for Walgreens; Dr. Melvin Gravely, author and founder of The Institute of Entrepreneurial Thinking; Jean Lacefield, group manager, supplier diversity for PepsiCo Foods North America; and Kathryn Mazon, senior business development lead, supplier diversity for Target Corporation, offered practical advice on integrating supplier diversity throughout an organization. The panel was moderated by Bridgette Porter, senior human resources manager, diversity, for Procter & Gamble.

Later in the program, Linda Clement-Holmes, chief diversity officer and senior vice president, Global Business Services, for Procter & Gamble, shared how P&G integrated a diverse workforce to drive innovation and gain a competitive advantage.

Wednesday evening’s dinner included special remarks from Mark Schortman, senior vice president and region general manager for Coca-Cola Refreshments, who commented on the beverage company’s commitment to gender diversity.

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NEW Diversity Forum, March 8 sessions

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