CHRO COVID-19 Recording: Skip Spriggs - 7/17/20

In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time.  

The importance of diversity and inclusion has never been more top of mind than it is today. But achieving true diversity and inclusion in the working world continues to be elusive, says Skip Spriggs, former president and CEO of the Executive Leadership Council and the current president and CEO of Atlanta Life Insurance Company. On this week’s CHRO/HR Strategy COVID-19 Response series call, HR leaders from organizations such as Church & Dwight, Dutch Bros. Coffee, McCormick Corp., and many others joined Spriggs—today’s Q&A guest—to discuss what their companies are doing to drive more effective D&I initiatives. Some highlights: 

  • In terms of getting closer to achieving true diversity in the workplace and at the leadership levels, there are issues with how organizations and HR are developing people, said Spriggs, who describes this issue as “systemic de-selection.” To offer an example, Spriggs recounted a conversation he had with the CEO of “one of the largest retailers in the world.”

    “This CEO said, ‘I care about diversity, Skip. I have an open board seat that I’d like to fill with a seated CEO. I said, if that’s what you want to do, you have four Black CEOs to choose from in the Fortune 500 (and only one of them is a woman). And they’re all oversubscribed. So, you’re effectively deselecting them [for consideration for the open board seat].” 

    Rather than seeking to fill a board seat or a position with a title, in this case CEO, Spriggs suggested considering the competencies you seek—do you want someone who’s worked overseas? Do you want someone with an MBA? 

    “I told this CEO, you name the criteria. And once you’ve done that, you’ve opened up the sea of candidates beyond just those four [Black CEOs].”  
  • Disaggregating diversity data is critical to truly understanding and improving how companies are faring with regard to diversity and inclusion, according to Spriggs.

    “What I’ve found is that most organizations will tell you they’re doing better from a diversity perspective than they were, say, three years ago. And in many instances, they’re right,” said Spriggs. “A company’s board might be more diverse, or they’ve promoted more diverse candidates. But if you disaggregate the data, you find there are one or two groups that haven’t moved at all: Black and brown.” 

    Whatever metrics these companies are using to measure D&I, they are typically aggregated numbers, he added. And in some cases, the organization has promoted a large percentage of women in the past year, for example. But disaggregating the numbers the company uses to measure D&I often reveals that other underrepresented groups see no significant change in terms of numbers of advancement within the organization, said Spriggs. 
  • The majority of companies either have diversity and inclusion goals or plan to set D&I goals within their organization. In an instant poll of today’s participants, 58% said their company currently has diversity goals, with 42% saying their organization plans to put diversity goals in place. In addition, 50% also specified that their firms plan to implement inclusion goals, with 21% saying their company already has such objectives.

In addition to this recording, please see these resources: