Diversity, equity and inclusion must be built into the fabric of a business, not simply bolted on. DEI must have buy-in at a company’s most senior levels, and not end up a side project on an employee’s work plan.
An executive for a business that produces some of the most recognizable consumer brands in the world discussed his company’s efforts to serve a diverse population and what lessons the financial services industry can take from those efforts.
Eric Austin is senior director, global brand and media innovation, with Procter & Gamble. He talked about his company’s DEI initiatives and how they can apply to the financial services world during the Insured Retirement Institute’s virtual annual meeting on Wednesday.
Procter & Gamble launched a project called “Widen the Screen,” in which the company produces short films that show a fuller picture of Black life than is usually depicted in the media.
“We want to tell a story that sheds light on the systemic biases that exist,” Austin said. “We want to show the full picture of Black life. Everything we see is either about struggle or excellence. But there is a full experience of Black life that is not seen and stories that are not told.”
A company’s DEI efforts should be both a force for good and a force for growth, Austin said.
A force for good means being a good corporate citizen while a force for growth provides an opportunity to “close the share gap with the African American community,” he said. “There’s a disparity in share between African Americans and the general public.”
Austin said businesses have to learn their way as they work toward appealing to a broader audience. “You have to jump in and experiment, be authentic in your approach to this. Consumers can sniff out when things are fake.”
DEI “shouldn’t be an initiative off to the side,” said Yogini Biswas, chief brand officer with Brighthouse Financial. “The crux of DEI shouldn’t be a charity. It should be part of how the business operates. People want to work for and do business with companies whose purpose goes beyond profits.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @INNsusan.