How CEB is Using Employee-Led Groups to Foster Diversity and Inclusion

April 28, 2016

Considering they’re a company providing best practice insights, it makes sense that CEB would prioritize diversity. After all, there are countless studies out there that show diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies, along with creating larger societal benefits.

What’s more interesting is to see how CEB goes about having a diverse workforce.

The answer: employee-led groups, such as Women at CEB, Veterans at CEB, CEB Mosaic, and CEB Pride, all seeking to attract more diverse talent, as well as develop and retain current talent while creating a more inclusive workplace for all.

How has it worked?

In November, the Human Rights Campaign gave CEB a perfect score of 100 on its Corporate Equality Index, which is a benchmarking tool used to rate businesses on their corporate policies and practices regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) inclusion. The score came but a year after the group CEB Pride was formed, which helped further enhance CEB’s accepting culture.

Meanwhile, Women at CEB, CEB Mosaic, and Veterans at CEB are making similar progress for their own respective groups, Employment Brand Director, Shannon Smedstad said. Overall, they’ve added “positive energy, benefits offerings, and meaningful programming” to CEB, and have helped the company be more diverse while hiring and engaging employees all around the world. Together, the groups have also helped to “remove siloes through their network contributions.”

“As a firm, we believe in diversity of people and diversity of thought,” said Human Resources Director, Margot Dehn. “And, our groups are a big part of that. The energy, impact, and connectivity they’ve brought to our company has been exceptional.”

How these groups were started and what they do

A few years ago, CEB held focus groups and surveyed employees on how to strengthen the company’s available internal resources. From that, staff agreed they’d like to see an employee group dedicated to engaging, developing, and retaining female talent.

So, in 2014, Women at CEB was formed. Shortly thereafter came CEB Pride and CEB Veterans and, at the end of 2015, CEB Mosaic (which supports people of all racial and cultural identities).

These four groups are given budgets to pilot programs and host events, and members from each group appear at recruiting events and participate in community service efforts. The leaders of each group also meet quarterly to brainstorm new ideas, co-sponsor events, and collaborate together on best practices.

Most importantly, these groups are not made up solely of the people for whom they advocate. For example, Women at CEB includes both men and women working towards a more equitable environment.

So what do the groups do exactly? Here are a few highlights from each:

1. Women at CEB: Everything from group mentoring to Milk Stork

Women at CEB is the company’s largest group, with nearly 1,000 members (out of around 4,500 corporate employees worldwide). It also has the strongest global reach, as members continue to build networks inside CEB and with Fortune 500 employee groups. Over the past two years, the group has created impact by hosting a variety of events, including a speaker series, and has piloted new innovative programs such as group mentoring circles for senior leaders.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the group turned that week into “women’s week” at the company, holding everything from leadership summits to military museum tours to making t-shirts for “Girls on the Run:”

Additionally, Women at CEB has piloted programs to help women with necessities that are often ignored by the workplace. One of their most notable programs is Milk Stork, a company that will ship a working mom’s breast milk back home when she has to travel for work, so mothers continue to have the same opportunity as everyone else.

2. CEB Pride: Not afraid to take a stand on issues

CEB Pride holds events to raise awareness of LGBT issues. But it also has encouraged the company to take a stand on looming social issues, most notably the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to make same sex marriage legal throughout the United States.

With irrevocable support from its executive team, CEB was one of 379 businesses to petition the court to approve the constitutionality of same sex marriage. Smedstad said her company made that decision because CEB and its leadership believe deeply in the issue of equality.

“To see my company stand on the right side of history was one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my 10 years at CEB,” shared CEB Pride Vice-Chair, Brian McAlpin.

CEB Pride has stood for other issues as well. On October 16, 2015, hundreds of employees across the world wore purple as part of Spirit Day, a GLADD initiative intended to bring awareness to the bullying of LGBT youth.

3. CEB Veterans and CEB Mosaic: Yoga to building connections

Like Women at CEB, CEB Veterans had a week dedicated to its members, where there were speakers, networking events, and even veteran-led yoga classes at the CEB offices:

  • CEB diversity

Additionally, Veterans at CEB regularly help reach out to local communities in an effort to recruit more veterans to the company. Group members are currently developing a guide to help managers understand the skills and needs of military reservists and veterans, and they also meet with service men and women who are interviewing with CEB.

CEB Mosaic is the latest group at CEB to form, beginning at the end of 2015. While still in its early planning stages, the hope is to do many of the things the other CEB groups have done – specifically, find ways to recruit, develop, and manage exceptional talent from all races and cultural identities. It’s part of their mission to foster a workplace where all individuals can build rewarding careers.

  • CEB diversity

What this all means to you

Any company can form similar groups. By having these groups, employees worldwide, particularly those in underrepresented populations, have a safe place to talk about issues that uniquely affect them. Not only can they serve as the voice of underrepresented groups within your company, but they can also help you increase engagement and productivity within your workforce, or let you know if there is a blind spot requiring a new policy that needs to be adopted. 

Ultimately, a program like this can only be effective when leadership buys in, makes diversity and inclusion a top priority, and takes the needs and ideas of employees seriously. In the case of CEB, that’s exactly what is happening. And it is proving to be an effective strategy for building a more diverse and inclusive workforce, while engaging current employees in these vital issues. 

*Image from CEB

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