ON Making Meaningful Diversity Progress

Sep 16, 2021

The ON community of executive leaders continues to weigh in on their DEI progress and share their learnings


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As a values-driven executive search firm, we believe a better experience starts with a more diverse experience. We understand that our role in placing senior executives and board members is an important driver of organizational change. As part of ON Partners’ commitment to building more diverse organizations, we’re actively listening to our community of leaders and executive influencers to understand what actions they are taking, where the challenges are, and how they have progressed in their DEI journey.

Industry leaders from the ON community – spanning private and public companies across multiple marketplace sectors including technology, consumer, life sciences, industrial, and private/growth equity – continue to respond to our DEI survey. As we’ve done in Part 01 and Part 02 of our report, we’re sharing recent findings around initiatives that are underway, where the barriers are and who in our community is admired for their DEI initiatives and progress. We encourage you to complete the survey if you haven’t already done so.

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DEI Video Series Features Prominent Executive Influencers
As part of our recognition of organizations and leaders in our community that have made great strides in building diverse leadership teams, we’ve created the DEI Video Series. Tapping into our community of leaders and executive influencers helps us understand what actions they are taking, where the challenges are, and how they have progressed in their DEI journey. Videos to date feature:

Jignasha Amin Grooms – Epicor Executive Vice President, CHRO/Legal 

“At Epicor we approach the definition of DE&I from a global landscape by really looking at things that are going to have the most significant influence on both our culture strategy and our business strategy,” says Amin Grooms. “We wanted to make sure that our mission, vision and execution measurements were aligned around the world so that every employee no matter where they sat felt like they were aligned to Epicor’s business goals and Epicor’s higher purpose…No matter where you are in the world, no matter what generation you are, making sure that you feel inspired by your colleagues, by your leadership and that you feel aligned with the business purpose and find it to add personal and professional value is huge in the DE&I journey.”

Marvin Boakye – Papa John’s Chief People & Diversity Officer 

“We wanted to create a culture that made us a place that attracted people from all different backgrounds and included them within this conversation that we were trying to create that we call Papa John’s,” notes Boakye. “There is no reason why the diversity of our workplace should not represent the communities that we serve. It makes business sense for us. It attracts great talent when they see that, and it also attracts more customers.”

Christina C. Loh – Supply chain executive 

Notes Loh, “A lot of women and minorities and folks of other attributes are attracted to seeing someone who doesn’t really fit in the mold and who has achieved a certain level of success, and they want to learn from that. So I think that as supply chain leaders want to build more diverse cultures, they really have to look at ensuring that the leadership is diverse, because that will attract additional diverse candidates.”

Oris Stuart – NBA Chief People & Inclusion Officer 

According to Stuart, “We have to represent the fan in all aspects of our business, so for us diversity, equity and inclusion are core values and they are central to our business strategy… Just over the past year we’ve seen significant increases in the percentage of women and underrepresented minorities across our league office and at our teams, particularly at more senior levels, and it’s something we’ve been very focused on…Fundamentally, the progress we’re seeing is that the game continues to grow across the globe and gain more fans and that’s most representative of our commitment to diversity and its integration within our core business strategies.”

To view the video series, visit here.

State of DEI Initiatives

With an average DEI success rating of 3.4 out of 5.0, survey respondents continue to recognize that while they are making progress, there is still work to be done.

Among the DEI initiatives that recent respondents noted are underway in their organizations are:

  • Consciousness programs for DEI education
  • Board diversity program
  • Compensation equity
  • Employee outreach
  • Progressive annual plan including diversity hiring goals
  • Changing our culture to create more cross-functional collaboration
  • Starting a womens’ network
  • Mentoring program
  • Hiring a VP of DE&I

It is evident from the survey results that organizations still have a long way to go in reaching diversity goals. But recognizing the barriers is a critical part of the journey, and progress is being made.

Recognizing and Breaking Barriers to Diversity

Barriers that recent survey respondents identified as hindering them from reaching their diversity goals include:

  • Access to candidates
  • Time to dedicate to DEI efforts
  • Trying to balance time driving core business results with keeping team engaged in DEI initiatives
  • Attracting the right mix of people

Barriers as described by respondents include:

“Real acknowledgement and engagement that DEI is an issue. The Board and the senior team say the right thing but do not really act on it. (They) assume that hiring one woman in any role is enough and then go back to business as it used to be.”

“Support and buy-off from owners of the company. One site is in Guatemala and culturally they are still far behind in understanding the benefits of diversity, inclusion and equity especially as they support many US companies.”

“’Wokeness’ and putting people in jobs where they are forever tagged a ‘DEI’ hire and are not evaluated on their talent.”

For more information on how to build diverse leadership organizations, read ON’s strategic guide of six key considerations when evaluating your own organization’s DEI practices and how to work toward a more diverse and inclusive labor pool.

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About ON Partners

Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

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