Deloitte ditching old model of diversity groups to engage white men

21 Jul 2017

Deloitte’s office in Wellington, New Zealand. Image: jejim/Shutterstock

Deloitte is taking a different approach to boosting diversity from within, ditching its diversity groups to give white men a chance to enter the discussion.

On first glance, it might appear as if Deloitte is regressing massively by dissolving its various diversity groups, but the company has now revealed that, in its place, there will be inclusion councils.

According to Bloomberg, these diversity councils’ major purpose is to do what many of the previous groups did not: include white men.

Future Human

The hope is that by bringing in the group most considered to have unfair privilege in society, the conversation can include them and increase dialogue over existing issues, rather than leave them ostracised and uninformed.

Leading the initiative is Megan Schumann, who will oversee the ending of Deloitte’s women initiative 24 years after it was founded.

LGBTQ and minority groups to be phased out

Over the course of the next 18 months, the company’s LGBTQ, minority and veterans groups will also be phased out, replaced by the inclusion councils.

Speaking of the move, Schumann said: “I am one of the more unlikely deserters from a women’s initiative.

“But why go talk to a circle of people about something that feels like it’s tied to only one facet of your identity?”

Joining Schumann in her quest to end the grouping of demographics is Deepa Purushothaman, who said that while the model has worked in the past, millennials are becoming increasingly resistant to the idea.

“By having everyone in the room, you get more allies, advocates and sponsors,” Purushothaman said.

“A lot of our leaders are still older white men, and they need to be part of the conversation and advocate for women. But they’re not going to do that as much if they don’t hear the stories and understand what that means.”

Competitors not joining in

However, speaking with Bloomberg, rival consultancy firm PwC said that it has no plans of ending its own employee resource groups (ERGs).

“Our affinity groups at PwC are focused on business outcomes and come together to sponsor events that provide cultural awareness, mentoring and opportunities to network,” said the company’s diversity director, Lisa Ong.

“We believe there is tremendous value in also having individual ERGs to provide more leadership opportunities to their members.”

Purushothaman admitted that the decision is one that will likely cause friction in the initial stages among some employees, but said this is what’s best for moving the conversation forward.

“For us, in order to really drive change, get everyone on board and to really have a focus on the culture conversation that needs to happen, these things were necessary,” she said.

Deloitte’s office in Wellington, New Zealand. Image: jejim/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic