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Inclusion much more than policies, Forum attendees told

Panelists talking about inclusion

“It’s not enough to bring people to the table, you have to engage people and make them feel included  — that’s the difference between ‘D and ‘I,’” said Sarah Chartrand, senior vice president of talent and diversity for Ahold Delhaize.

Chartrand guided a discussion on “Inclusion: A Sustainable Advantage” at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, August 2 with Doug Behrens, president and chief customer officer of DanoneWave, and Michelle Freyre, president, U.S. beauty at Johnson & Johnson. More than 300 senior leaders from the retail and consumer goods industry attended the event.

“Inclusive leaders deeply know, understand and embrace a broader definition of ‘diversity,’” Freyre said, adding, “It’s also about being proud of your identity. What do you bring to the table? What is unique about you?”

“You’ve got to be aware of how everybody treats everybody throughout the organization,” Behrens said of fostering inclusion. “Inclusive leaders understand it, model it and really spend their time going after it.” Behrens said.

Defining success hard

Quantifying success isn’t always easy. “Inclusion can be very intangible and difficult to measure,” Chartrand said. “We need to do a good job of connecting it to individual performance.”

At DanoneWave, “there’s a lot of walking around and talking to people,” Behrens said. “And if you have someone who is not getting good engagement scores, you have to get that fixed. You can’t have an organization that’s diverse with a leader that isn’t playing the right way.”

“Along with race, background, experience, I try to get more specific about two or three behaviors that I’m looking for,” Freyre said. “Inclusion is about ‘you belong.’ It’s about a basic level of human behavior. And having all different groups in a company rate how they feel.”