With over $47 billion in revenue and 330,000 employees spread across 150 countries, Janet Foutty and her Deloitte colleagues work with around 70% of the global Fortune 500 companies.
Deloitte as it exists today is not your father’s Big Four accounting firm. With over $47 billion in revenue and 330,000 employees spread across 150 countries, Janet Foutty and her Deloitte colleagues work with around 70% of the global Fortune 500 companies. On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I spoke with Janet Foutty, the executive chair of the board of Deloitte and chair of the Deloitte Foundation, to learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and how Deloitte is helping companies improve their efforts to be more inclusive.
Building Agility and Equity to Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World
Those companies that have diverse and inclusive cultures provide a competitive edge over their peers. When you compare low and high-performing boards, those are that are high performing are more likely to exhibit gender balance and promote inclusive behavior.
Beyond adding value, it’s also about values. In Janet’s view, the more doors and opportunities that companies can create, the more that families benefit, the economy benefits and perhaps most importantly, the next generation benefits.
The idea of DEI is not just a moment, but a movement, and it is up to a company’s board to be accountable for fostering an environment where everyone can be included.
The Equity Equation
While much of the conversation over the years has been around diversity and inclusion, equity has quickly become part of the conversation. Deloitte was at the forefront of diversity in the professional services industry, as it was the first company to have a women’s initiative. That then evolved to be diversity and inclusion, where the organization sought out ways to create an inclusive workforce and promote inclusive behaviors. But what the industry learned is that focusing on just diversity and inclusion is not enough. Instead of being about an initiative or a program, equity is about an outcome. For Janet, this is about "lasting economic and social outcomes, and leveling the playing field."
In compiling their Racial Equity Imperative Report, Janet and her team determined that creating sustained change in the boardroom and C-suite starts with changing the questions that are being asked. For example, cybersecurity has changed the way boardrooms have conversations around technology, and the risks that come with it, so now that is part of every board conversation.
To help improve DEI efforts, Deloitte is working with its clients to start changing the conversation around a number of related topics. For example, when discussing mergers & acquisitions, the board should be asking questions about whether the move will be dilutive or accretive to diversity efforts. I agree with Deloitte on this, it has proven to to work well with the Dancing with Startups initiatives my group conducts with Fortune 500's, brining DEI directly into their partnership and acquisition target areas—driving both value and values.
Value and Values
When it comes to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, there are two key fundamentals: flipping leadership accountability and influencing change.
The tone of a company starts and ends with the board and CEO. As such, it is essential for organizations to hold leaders accountable for changes in the short- and long-term. However, some changes within an organization take longer than others, so it is also important to remain patient when it comes to certain long-term goals.
Part of keeping leaders accountable also means holding management teams responsible for disaggregating diversity data. By utilizing disaggregated data, leaders can go beyond the macro data and really into dig the specifics of hiring practices and compensation for certain groups in the organization. This can lead to asking better questions about how to improve DEI efforts and create more sustainable, long-lasting change.
On the other hand, culture is perhaps the hardest part to change due to existing orthodoxies within an organization. Many orthodoxies go unchallenged because they have been successful by traditional metrics. However, in order to truly make change when it comes to diversity and inclusion, existing orthodoxies must be challenged. Also, I think transparency helps, if organizations publish and measure their data, change will come.
For example, Deloitte has been focused on flipping the notion of unbiased meritocracy. The company is recognizing the fact that not everyone has the same experiences or is entering the organization with the same mindset, even if they came through the same campus program, so they need to adjust expectations accordingly.
An authentic and passionate tech leader, and previous Reboot Chronicles guest, Logitech CEO Bracken Darrell, is doing a remarkable job, along with his team and Chairperson, Wendy Becker, who are committed to improving on the value and values of DEI, throughout their organization, supply chains and markets.
Building the Board of The Future
As Board Leadership Fellows at The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), my colleague Anna Cantalano and I are often asked for board member recommendations by public companies and recruiters. As Janet points out, we too have noticed that a growing number, over 70%, of board searches come from individual networks. For those interested, Janet and the Deloitte Center for Board Effectiveness suggests that board hopefuls use their network to voice their desire to participate on a board. They also should showcase their value proposition by being clear about their skills and capabilities and what they would be able to offer a board. Lastly, prospective board members should study how to be a good governor. One such way of doing this is to participate in a not-for-profit’s board. This is a good way of getting your feet wet and improving on coaching and management skills.
To hear more about Janet’s perspective on creating a more diverse and inclusive boardroom, watch or listen here, or where ever you listen to podcasts.
About the Reboot Chronicles Podcast
Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.
About Dean DeBiase
Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.