May 27, 2015 in Events (live blogging), European HRD Business Summit 2015

The Diversity and Inclusion Business Imperative

Jane Gibbon (Senior Director Diversity and Reward, McDonald’s)

Jane opened by saying the ‘business case’ for diversity and inclusion has been made many times, but changing demographics are now making an even more compelling business case. Jane quoted Warren Buffet (“The secret of my success? Part of it was that I was only competing with one half of the population” ) and noted that we have been making big progress in recent years. Jane stated that Diversity and Inclusion applies across many dimensions, although her presentation includes a lot of mentions of gender diversity as that seems to be where there is more data available.

It is a well-known fact that diverse Boards lead to better organisational performance. The gender diversity on Boards varies widely across Europe; from Norway (35.5% women’s share of board seats) down to Portugal (with 7.9%). Quotas seems to play a major role in these results.

Women control 64% of household spending (with McDonalds seeing this as 73% in the US); Jane argued that whilst this is well-known, it doesn’t seem to influence the way that many organisations behave. Also, studies looking at LGBT buying power in the US (shopping 16% more frequently and spending 30% more than mixed-gender households) doesn’t seem to influence the way that many companies behave. Not only is Diversity and Inclusion a moral imperative, it also makes good economic sense.


There is an impending ‘workforce cliff’ where we will not have enough people for the jobs we need and Jane referenced the European Commission working paper ‘Growth potential of EU human resources and policy implications for future economic growth’.

McDonalds are responding to the impending workforce cliff in a number of ways:
1 – Invest in training (for long-term employees)
2 – Workplace skills for young people
3 – Creating attractive roles for older people
4 – Enhanced support for women


McDonald’s saw three stages to creating a culture of inclusion (Influenced by the Anatomy of change reports from Catalyst):

1 – Critical dialogue (start reviewing the data, discussing this at a senior level, and talking to people across the organisation). McDonald’s changed their language and then start
2 -Organisational commitment (McDonals’s started collecting metrics to see whether they were just ‘talking the talk’ or were starting to make an impact. Without setting targets or goals, McDonald’s introduced diversity reporting so that they could see what was happening. This showed a lack of progress, which led to the formation of a diversity and inclusion committee which extended far beyond HR)
3 – Personal commitment (each individual needs to take responsibility for ‘being the change they want to see’ and take action)

McDonald’s see four key leadership attributed that link to inclusion:
– empowerment
– accountability
– courage
– humility

Jane closed the session by referencing the book ‘None of Us is As Good As All of Us’ (I love the title!) by Patricia Sowell Harris (McDonald’s chief diversity officer) which tells a bit more the story of their journey).


(This was live-blogged during a session at the European HR Directors Business Summit 2015 in Barcelona – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)

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