Businesses benefit from diversity and inclusion. By inviting workers from different backgrounds to the meeting room table, businesses gain access to new perspectives and insights that can guide them to enhanced growth, greater sustainability, positive community impacts and more.
Yet, not all businesses prioritize diversity - in fact, so few major corporations are working toward an inclusive organization that those who have achieved a degree of diversity in their staff are worth celebrating.
What Makes an Organization Inclusive and Diverse?
Before determining which companies are the most inclusive and diverse, it is important to define what these terms mean as well as what data is being used to rank different organizations. In the business world, diversity is best described as a workforce comprised of individuals with varying backgrounds, with differences in race, religion, sex and gender, socioeconomic status, age and physical ability. Inclusivity is not only having a diverse staff but welcoming and valuing the diverse perspectives offered by that staff.
These are not the only definitions of diversity and inclusion. Plenty of academics have defined these terms differently to guide their discrete research into the phenomenon of organizational inclusivity and diversity, and many organizations themselves have more specific definitions to guide their workplace cultures. Businesses that lack their own practices and policies surrounding diversity might encourage leaders to enroll in a leadership course focused on inclusivity to better understand how these terms might apply.
In their initiative to rank major organizations by their progressiveness, famed business magazine Fortune partnering with financial technology firm Refinitiv determined 14 metrics that help measure a business's diversity and inclusion. These metrics include:
Diversity of the policy board
Availability of day care services
Presence of employee resource groups
Percentage of minorities employed, within management and with board seats
Percentage of women employed, within management and with board seats
Minority and gender wage gaps
Unfortunately, many Fortune 500 companies are not completely transparent with their employment data, which makes measuring and comparing inclusion and diversity a difficult task. Only 14 companies approached by Fortune and Refinitiv voluntarily supplied all requested data; the rest was sourced from public disclosures. Until all companies reveal the totality of their diversity data, no one can say for certain which organizations are the most progressive in terms of inclusivity.
Which Businesses Are Most Inclusive and Diverse?
Based on the data currently available, the following Fortune 500 companies demonstrate the best policies and practices for inclusion and diversity:
Perhaps because Microsoft's data was the most complete of any organization studied, Microsoft tops the list for its efforts to instill diversity and inclusivity in its workforce. The tech giant offers both daycare services and voluntary employee resources groups, and leaders at Microsoft work tirelessly to promote diversity and inclusion. In 2020, racial and ethnic minorities made up 39.7 percent of the company's board, 41.3 percent of its management staff and 49.8 percent of its total workforce. Though Microsoft does lag behind in terms of gender diversity, its other metrics were so remarkable as to highlight Microsoft as the best of the best.
One of the largest managed care companies in the country, Centene was founded by a woman, and today, its commitment to diverse hiring practices and an inclusive workplace culture remains steadfast. A full 75 percent of Centene's workforce is female, and 55 percent of them work at the director level and above. What's more, 50 percent of the workforce is people of color. Centene has a variety of employee councils to help leadership develop inclusive policies and practices, and it is widely recognized as a safe and positive place to work.
Over the past year, Target has slipped from its previous number-two position on this list to number three - but its inclusion and diversity practices remain leaps and bounds better than most other organizations. Guided by the principle of "Stay Open," the retail giant boasts a workforce that is 58 percent female and 51 percent racial and ethnic minorities. Target continues to improve its employee resources, expanding its childcare opportunities, resource groups and more.
Diversity is good for business, in more ways than one. It is important to identify and celebrate those organizations that are achieving inclusive workspaces to inspire other businesses and business leaders to do the same.