For a company with GE’s global reach, diversity is not just a moral imperative, but a business requirement. The company’s talent needs to reflect the communities it operates in, while also fueling a dynamic culture that embraces varied ideas. As Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO, notes, “Diversity and performance go together.”
According to Nancy Dunn, manager of diversity and inclusiveness, GE sees diversity as a way to embrace a wide variety of cultural and individual experiences. This creates a corporate environment that is both robust and energizing, while respecting the people who work for the company and the communities where they do business.
While GE has multiple supports in place for its 300,000 global employees, its Affinity Networks are key to its diversity efforts, ensuring all employees have the ability to reach their growth potential. These employee resource groups bridge cultural gaps between people from different communities and guarantee that all voices are heard. Currently, there are GE Affinity Networks for African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanics, women and veterans, as well as a separate Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance. Each of the groups has senior-level support, with a direct report to the office of the CEO.
“Diversity is about the power of the mix,” says Dunn. “Our inclusive culture fosters teamwork and innovation to help our people, businesses and communities thrive.”
Industry Career Achiever
President and CEO
Hikmet Ersek knows a thing or two about multicultural traditions. His mother is a Christian from Austria and his father a Muslim from Turkey. His wife is half-Austrian and half-Indian, and as a family they celebrate Christmas as well as Hindu and Muslim holidays.
All this comes into play at Western Union, used by people and businesses to send and receive money in some 200 countries and territories around the world. Ersek’s leadership has helped Western Union broaden its cross-border money transfer business and expand into electronic and mobile channels. Serving a global population means the company must always be sensitive to local culture. “As I like to say, diversity attracts diversity,” says Ersek. “Global culture is part of our DNA.”
Pawan G. Mehra
Look at Améredia’s portfolio of work and you will understand the broad breadth of multicultural marketing. For example, the San Francisco agency’s campaign for Comcast is aimed at customers from more than a dozen different ethnicities, from Slavs to South Asians.
When Pawan Mehra, a native of India, started the agency in 2003, he saw an opportunity to reach out to the local ethnic communities that large companies and agencies were ignoring, and that remains the agency’s focus. Today, the Améredia team has bilingual professionals from more than 16 ethnicities who collectively speak more than 25 different dialects and languages. “Diversity is inherent in our business and at the core of what we do every day,” Mehra says.
EVP, Director of Human Resources
BBDO has long embraced diversity and inclusion and Jeff Sautter is the behind-the-scenes presence who makes sure it all works. “Diversity is the core goal of this agency and Jeff is instrumental in carrying this through,” says John Osborn, chairman and CEO of BBDO New York of his HR chief. “He is the one activating and delivering all aspects of the initiatives.”
Sautter‘s role goes far beyond just attracting the right talent. He is an advocate for people and their careers, providing an ear and voice to help them map out their future. He has been honored by the agency with its Dillon prize for his integrity and leadership. Says Osborn, “It takes a great person to be a great people person, and that is Jeff Sautter.”
Young & Rubicam
The United Negro College Fund
Forty years later, a mind is still a terrible thing to waste.
In 1972, Y&R volunteered to be the agency of The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and its iconic slogan—“A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste”—was launched. The partnership has remained in place ever since. Its first year, the UNCF raised about $10 million. Since then, this campaign has helped drive some $2.2 billion in donations for the UNCF and the organization has helped more than 350,000 minority students graduate from college, according to the Ad Council. Today, the slogan has become part of the American vernacular and continues to define what Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the UNCF, calls “a powerful universal expression of aspiration.”
Pioneers of Diversity
Kang & Lee
Three organizations are also being honored as pioneers of diversity. One of the first Asian-American agencies (it was founded in 1985), Kang & Lee, now part of WPP Group, has helped break new ground for brands such as Allstate, FedEx and Harrah’s to target this fast growing demographic. Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), the first women’s association in the communications industry, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Holding company Omnicom Group encourages diversity across the industry through programs such as the Omnicom Medgar Evers Associate Program, the ADCOLOR Industry Coalition, and its own Omnicom Diversity Initiatives Group and Supplier Diversity Database.