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From Milken: Is your company ready for Diversity 2.0?

The rapid pace of globalization has all but settled questions about whether there’s a business case for diversity, concluded participants in the “Diversity 2.0” panel at the Milken Global Conference last week in Los Angeles.

Fran Durekas, founder and chief development officer of Children’s Creative Learning Centers, led the panel. Joining her were Deepika Bajaj, president of Invincibelle; Steve Bell, executive vice president of global human resources for Diamond Resorts International; Randall Lane, senior leader for global inclusion and diversity at Cisco Systems; Debra Nelson, vice president for corporate diversity and community affairs at MGM Mirage, and Alicia Winckler, chief human capital officer at Chicago Public Schools.

Several key themes emerged in their discussion:

  • Diversity is an increasingly complex concept. The focus now is on diversity of skill sets, not just gender and ethnicity, Winckler said. And even in terms of ethnic diversity, the lines are blurring. “When we look toward the future, the U.S. will grow to mirror the world,” said Lane.
  • Accountability is crucial. It isn’t enough to say you value diversity, Nelson said. “If there isn’t commitment from the top, it won’t work,” she pointed out – and that commitment includes budgeting and staff. And publishing your results publicly. At Cisco, diversity goals are discussed in every employee’s performance evaluation, Lane said. And he monitors the results. Unless you measure results, things don’t change, he said.
  • Technology can help. Online networks have been a boon for women in particular, Bajaj said. Family commitments make it difficult for many women to go out for a beer and other traditional networking activities, she pointed out. “Social media helps them build those relationships.” Virtual job fairs can also help employers find the best workers – no matter where they live.

Watch SmartBrief Senior Editor Mary Ellen Slayter’s interview with Deepika Bajaj after the Milken session.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmnbSzSBGC8[/embed]

Is workforce diversity a priority at your company? How are you putting those ideals into action?