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10/20 Event Recap: Workforce Diversity

In recent years, “ESG” has gained greater prominence. Incorporation of environmental, social, and governance factors has become more important for companies with trillions of dollars flowing into ESG funds and rising shareholder activism around their consideration. Policymakers in Washington and elsewhere have also expressed growing interest in ESG.  

A lot is packed into these three letters. BPC’s ESG Task Force was formed with the purpose of educating policymakers about the nuances of ESG and helping bring greater clarity to the emerging policy debates. Pursuant to this, over the last several months we have hosted discussions on corporate disclosure, the climate piece of ESG, and other issues. Most recently, BPC convened an outstanding lineup to look at workforce diversity. 

Workforce diversity is part of what’s known as “human capital management.” It is an area where the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has indicated interest and potential action in the near future. In particular, the SEC could seek to mandate that American companies disclose metrics on workforce diversity. The event discussion touched on different dimensions of workforce diversity, implications for measurement, and how companies might approach operations around workers that they can’t even see. 

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A Diverse Workforce Isn’t Nice to Have—It’s a “Critical Asset”

Year over year, the top thing that people consistently say is important is how a company treats its workers.
Alison Omens, Chief Strategy Officer, JUST Capital
There has been an increased emphasis, some of it in the boardroom, some of it in terms of workplace composition, some of it even in terms of consumer basis, where companies and investors are looking much more closely at diversity, gender diversity, racial diversity, ethnic diversity, and sexual orientation.
Tom Quaadman, EVP, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In a multigenerational workforce, there are more possibilities for mentorship and a greater diversity of skills.
Scott Frisch, SVP and COO, AARP

It’s Tough to Disclose About Workforce Diversity If You Don’t Know What It Is or Don’t See It

“How our economy works is different … now we have an economy that has evolved into the information age and services.” 

Tom Quaadman, EVP, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, U.S. Chamber of Commerce 

For companies that are breaking through and having a much more inclusive process, they actually approach it a little differently. … Instead, a number of years of experience is required [as opposed to a four-year degree.]
Eva Sage-Gavin, senior managing director, Talent & Organization/Human Potential, Accenture 

Putting Workforce Diversity in Context—and What It Means for Public Policy

The American economic engine is starved of people. We just don’t have people. The greatest determinant of how a company is going to grow is how it can attract people.
Tom Quaadman, EVP, Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
One of the things that is critically important is the fact that the population is aging and not only is the population aging but they’re also living longer in the United States. … Many either need to or want to continue working.
Jean Accius, SVP, global thought leadership, AARP
Part of what we are looking for is more consistency, whether that’s voluntary or regulated, to be able to compare how companies are doing to each other.
Alison Omens, chief strategy officer, JUST Capital

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