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Diverse talent: 4 influential brand stories of success

Diversity fuels commercial success — we know that to be true. Here are four ‘go-do-it’ examples of companies who’ve committed to recruiting diverse talent, and are now reaping the benefits.

Diversity in your recruitment strategy: less talk, more action

The business world needs more diversity, there’s no shortage of research to support that. Certain demographics face far higher unemployment rates — through no fault of their own. And yet when teams are made from more diverse members, the results are “overwhelming,” according to the World Economic Forum

However, agreeing, designing, and rolling out a diversity-driven recruitment strategy can be hard. You need buy-in from all C-Suite members, and you need the right company culture to welcome D&I with open arms. In short, it’s easy to get downhearted when you’re fighting for change.

It’s also easy to think you’re making progress when you’re actually just talking about making progress.

In times like these, it helps to draw motivation from the companies who’ve helped pave the way. Featuring Coca-Cola, L’Oréal, IBM, and Verizon, this list serves as a reminder to put your much-discussed D&I initiatives into action — and keep on fighting.

The power of diverse talent: 4 real-world case studies

Verizon invests in female leaders

Verizon wanted to accelerate women’s rise to leadership. Not just because the company prides itself on meaningful D&I, but because they knew that having female senior leadership could boost company profits by 30%. 

What did they do?

Verizon’s ‘Women at Work: Being an Advocate for Your Own Success™’ program made personal and professional development opportunities available to hundreds of women across the organization. 

The fast-paced initiative explored the real-world challenges facing women at the top, and inspired participants to “reach higher levels of personal effectiveness, growth, and development”. Most importantly though, it gave female workers a chance to connect, and learn from each other — providing the community required to support long-lasting change.

What was the impact?

The program received several industry recognitions and awards. But it changed the mood internally, too. Armed with actionable ways to promote themselves at work, Verizon’s female community was a renewed force.

“[Women] show up in all shapes and sizes, colors, hair colors, haircuts, women with fuchsia pink hair, women dressed in men’s suits, in high heels, in flats, all ages, gay and straight, able-bodied and disabled. The irony is that the organization is making an investment in them and it is they who will ultimately give back to the company.”

— Melanie Miller, program speaker.

Coca-Cola achieves diversity via a campus recruiting strategy

Coca-Cola’s brand is synonymous with youth and energy. But back in the late 00s, their workforce demographics felt a little misaligned. To “refresh” the company’s worker profile, Coca-Cola moved toward campus recruitment strategies to engage not just early talent, but specifically women and people of color. 

What did they do?

Coca-Cola’s sales and supply operations — known internally as ‘Coca-Cola Refreshments’ — launched a University Talent Program. The initiative offered senior-year college students the chance to become “leadership associates” in the firm, specializing in human resources, business, sales, supply chain, or finance, over 2 to 3 years. 

What was the impact?

The Coca-Cola Refreshments was a bit hit. In the first year, the program’s full-time recruits were 32% people of color and 44% women. The numbers told an ever better story the second year around, attracting 45% people of color and 54% women. 

Better still, supported by in-house mentors and a dedicated series of training and social events, college recruits were on-boarded — and retained — as a core part of the team. 

The success of Coca-Cola’s University Talent Program illustrates how effective campus recruitment strategies can be for hiring diverse talent. Interested to learn more about finding early talent and supporting your diversity efforts? Start by reading our Ultimate Guide to Campus Recruiting.

IBM finds value beyond diversity quotas

Despite being one of the oldest tech companies still in operation, IBM is also a perfect example of affirmative action done right. Able to admit that they once simply ignored diversity and inclusion issues and hoped they’d go away, Lou Gerstner’s appointment as CEO in 2004 saw to totally redefine and revolutionize their approach. 

What did they do?

Under Gerstner’s lead, IBM sought to reveal and understand what employees had in common — and what threatened to pull them apart. By acknowledging and embracing those differences, they could turn potential clashes into high-value commercial strengths.

First, IBM engaged its leadership teams; believing that managers often underestimate just how much work needs to be done in promoting diverse talent in their firms. With senior-level buy-in, the IBM diversity initiative could then focus on wider cultural transformation; creating “task forces” within employee teams, helping to uncover diversity struggles in all parts of the business.

“We did not set quotas. But we did set goals” — Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO

These initial task forces created space for numerous diversity councils and other pro-inclusion movements that are still on-going at IBM today.

The third major diversity push was external to the IBM teams — indicative of IBM’s real dedication to meaningful change. As a business, it committed to serving a new, more diverse client base; women-owned businesses in Asian, black, Hispanic, mature (senior citizens), and Native American markets. 

What was the impact?

IBM’s diversity task force initiative delivered significant results:

  • 370% growth in the number of female executives
  • 233% growth in ethnic minority employees
  • 733% increase in the number of self-identified gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender executives
  • A broader range of IBM customers
  • And even a new supplier diversity program, aiming to send positive ripples effects through all the companies that IBM works with.

Multicultural managers solve global-local tensions at L’Oréal

Until a few years ago, L’Oréal’s French legacy was not only a marketing concept, but also a top-management reality. 

But what was a winning USP with some customers (namely Europeans), threatened to hold the brand back in other markets. While their Parisian roots had served them well so far, the teams needed to diversify to empathize and engage with a global audience. 

The solution? A more diverse talent structure, without undermining or undoing the brand’s success so far.

What did they do?

To balance the need for both local responsiveness and global integration, L’Oréal started its diversity recruiting strategy by focusing on R&D. And the company didn’t make this choice at random.

As their core competitive advantage, L’Oréal’s R&D department is also the place where sub-brands, regions, and functions intermix. It was, for this reason, the perfect place to start a diversity revolution. 

With that strategy in place, L’Oréal aggregated their R&D teams around multicultural managers capable of understanding a market’s diverse set of norms, behaviors, and nuances. After building their experience in ground-level R&D teams, many of these employees made their way to senior management — evidencing the strategy’s success. 

What was the impact?

In 2020, L’Oréal is worth $162.5 billion — so it’s safe to say their strategy worked! 

More specifically, diversity empowered the company to:

  • Recognize new product opportunities by connecting knowledge from different cultures
  • Prevent losses in translation by accounting for nuances and cultural differences
  • Integrate outsiders by developing cultural empathy
  • Connect subsidiaries and headquarters by leveling the multicultural field on both sides.

From getting inspired to pushing ahead

These real-world stories of diverse talent success can give you a boost of motivation. You need to push ahead with your own D&I efforts no matter the challenges you’ll face, so we are here to help.

Of course, we couldn’t finish this inspiring list without noting Accenture, our remarkable client who is one of the world’s most diverse and inclusive companies. Learn more about them below!

Headstart is on a mission to transform the way organisations hire! We are the world's first diversity driven Applicant Matching and Management System. We use Machine Learning and Data Science to transform the recruitment process, enabling clients to find the right high potential employees regardless of gender, ethnic status, sexual orientation or age.

With major brands like Accenture publicly supporting our mission, Headstart is already improving the recruitment experience for candidates around the world.

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