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The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion

Deloitte Insights video

In a marketplace where customers, suppliers and employees can span the globe, the importance of diversity and inclusion cannot be understated. What was once considered a human resources initiative has become a business imperative for chief executive officers focused on growing their organizations and developing their people. Watch this episode of Deloitte Insights to learn more.


Stedman Graham, author and CEO of S. Graham & Associates
Carl Allegretti, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Tax LLP


It’s time for Insights, a video news production of Deloitte LLP. Now here is your host Sean O’Grady.

Sean O’Grady (Sean): Hello and welcome to Insights where today we will be talking about talent and the business case for the improvement of an organization’s diversity and inclusion practices. Joining us in the studio for this discussion are Carl Allegretti, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Tax LLP; and Stedman Graham, CEO of S. Graham & Associates and a New York Times Best Selling Author. His latest title is “Identity: Your Passport to Success.” So Stedman, I would like to begin with you and I would like to understand why you think now is a good time for organizations to readdress their diversity and inclusion practices.

Stedman Graham (Stedman): Well, we live in a global marketplace where we are dealing with people from all around the world and we are doing business with people of all different backgrounds and demographics and all, so we really have to adjust our ability to get along with people from all different nationalities, racial backgrounds, and really inclusion is very important in terms of growth and development for companies and organizations.

Sean: Carl, why is this a priority for you?

Carl Allegretti (Carl): Let me tie in a couple of Stedman’s comments. He talked about the world being global and a big part of our business is people. I started in this profession a long time ago in 1983, and a lot of things have changed but two things haven’t, I need clients and I need people. And it is no secret, in today's world, teams that have different experiences, diverse background, difference of opinions make for stronger teams, and are able to bring more value to our clients. Stedman also talked about the changing demographics of our world. You know the buying patterns because of the demographics being changed are making it a business imperative that we include Diversity and Inclusion in part of our culture. The Fortune 500 companies, 90% of them have come out and said that Diversity and Inclusion is part of their goal setting, their strategy, and their results and they have made it perfectly clear, you know what, here is where we stand on Diversity and Inclusion. From our perspective, I see time and time again, RFPs coming across the transom, you know what, we want to see the makeup of your team. We want to understand the diverse nature of your team because they understand the marketplace understands, “the more diverse the team, the more value.” I had a large client put in front of me an evaluation, show me the diverse makeup of your team and we are going to be held accountable to deliver that team.

Sean: Sticking with what you were just talking about, the RFP, the request for proposal, and this idea of globalization, how does an organization go about meeting the demands for that kind of talent? So you can answer that question honestly.

Carl: You know, it starts at the top. If the CEO of a company does not support diversity and inclusion, it is doomed from the beginning. Let me be perfectly clear, our Global CEO, Barry Salzberg; our U.S. CEO, Joe Echevarria; and our Chairman of the Board, Punit Renjen, have made it perfectly clear that Diversity and Inclusion is very important. It is part of our culture. Again, we are a people business. We have to be able to recruit the best, train the best, and most importantly retain the best. It is part of our culture. And it starts on campus, all right. We bring in students at the sophomore level, all right, to give them an understanding of who we are in the marketplace and what it is to have a career at Deloitte. We start recruiting at a very young age. Then we start the retention aspect. We have a program, the Career Sponsorship Program, which really exposes our people, a specific group that we may believe we are at risk of retaining. We give them the right networking opportunity, the right client experiences, and allow them to have the right exposure to develop the skills needed to stay with the firm. Lastly, from a program perspective, we have a program called the Emerging Leaders program of which about 500 of our people have gone through this program, 70 of them right now are partners, principals, and directors, and that gives them an opportunity to have private coaching and executive sponsorship. And let me stay on the term sponsorship because we have all had coaches. Stedman and I come from an athletic background, we have had coaches. Coaches tell you what to do, right. Mentors work with you to develop your overall skill set. Sponsor, you know what, that sponsor speaks for you, on your behalf and gets you to the next level. I can be perfectly honest, I would not be the CEO of Deloitte Tax today without my sponsor.

Sean: Thank you for that perspective and Stedman, I think I have the same question for you, but in a slightly different way. I know that you have the opportunity to go out and do coaching and speaking at a number of different organizations, are there programs, are there practices about Diversity and Inclusion the you are seeing that make sense to you that you think are working.

Stedman: Well, what I do is I teach identity development. So I teach people how to find out who they are. And most people are stuck in the box doing the same thing over and over if did the same thing you did yesterday that you would do today, what have you done, nothing. And you go to school and you memorize, you take test, you repeat information back, and you get labeled with a grade and then you forget the information. So most people are conscious, they are conscious of the labels, they are conscious of the socially constructed boxes that they are in, so they never get a chance to really maximize their potential and they don’t really understand you know like Carl was saying, the true meaning of talent development and skill development, organizing your passion, being good at what you do, become an expert in your field, and so there has to be an awareness, and I think diversity and inclusion is important when people take charge of their own development, and don’t leave it to the organization to be responsible for getting them to go to the next level. And you begin to study more, you become more of a reader, you become more of a learner, you learn your organization, you learn the corporate culture, you learn how to socialize, you learn how to build relationships, you learn how to maximize your potential based on your intellect and your opportunities. And we live in America the greatest country in the world, and so to be able to have an organization at the top to support that and say what we are going to do is train everybody and like you have your training center down in Texas to be able to raise the skill level of everybody’s potential as opposed to looking at what they look like, as opposed to worrying about what their background is, not background but you know their color or where they came from, is to be able to really in the 21st century, is to teach people how to navigate that, so that you can deal with people all over the world to improve the you know socioeconomic condition of the environment that we live in, to improve the status of the company, and also be able to improve growth and increase sales.

Sean: Let’s just stick there and explore that for a second. How would you recommend individuals develop that responsibility, that ownership and that leadership you are speaking about?

Stedman: You have to take some responsibility today because this is the 21st century, it is a very complex situation you know this is not easy to navigate the world we live in, you know you got 800 channels, you have got businesses, you know manufacturing being outsourced all around the world and you have got people getting out of college, they can’t get a job, so it is a very difficult situation today, you really have to know who you are today, you really have to know what your skill set is going to be, you really have to know what you are good at, you have to become an expert in your field, you have to be specialized in your talent, you got to bring something to the table. So you know it’s great to have an organization that helps people do that, but you have to really take charge of your own development to be more than just average, you just can’t be average today, you have to be more than the average today. Carl is not an average guy.

Carl: In a lot of ways, I think people would say.

Stedman: So he has been able to work on himself, he is passionate about what he does, he is an expert at what he does, he is a leader you know those are all the things that everyone needs to do regardless of where they come from.

Carl: Let me pick up from his point on average and it is all of our responsibility to take advantage of all the programs that a company may have to develop their abilities, but then it takes individual ownership of your own self, alright to take advantage of those and then to have the confidence to deliver. I see a lot of talented people that have the skill set, they have the opportunity but to go to the marketplace they need to have that confidence, we need to continue to coach our people as they enter into the business community to have the confidence that they can deliver.

Stedman: And the confidence comes from really working every single day, everybody is equal because everybody has 24 hours, you know what I realized in my own life is about process and when you can understand process and how the American free enterprise system works and you know understand how the company works and you can do a good job and figure out what you do works, so you become good at what you do and then you are of service to the people that you work with, and the community, to your family, to people that you come in contact with all over the world because you are good at what you do, that is the key.

Sean: So the opportunity is a new one every sunrise. I guess as we wrap this up, my last question is for both of you and we can start with you Carl and that is what is your wish for a viewer of this conversation, how do you hope they take it and walk away with it.
Carl: Let us wrap this altogether and get the facts, you talk about people, you talk about development, you talk about our changing world, it is becoming more and more global, the facts are the more diverse the workforce is, the stronger your team is, and the stronger our team is the more value we can bring. And people originally talked about this as an HR initiative, you know with the changing demographics of the world, with the demand this is a business imperative and if an organization does not embrace diversity and inclusion they are going to fall behind. So my one takeaway is that this is a business imperative that you have to get it right, if your company is not embracing it you are going to fall behind.

Stedman: We have to transform the 99% into the 1%, right now we have a whole bunch of 99-percenters, middle class has been eliminated, you know 1% you know we got a big gap between the have and have-nots, so what we have to do is we have to bring those people who are made up of all different kinds of people, who make up the 99% and transform them into a leadership position, you got to transform them into a thinking position where they now can be responsible for their own development and they can be part of the American free enterprise system and feel like they can be a contributing member of this society,

Sean: Thank you very much for that gentlemen, it is a changing world, and organizations clearly have to change to address it. Okay, we have been discussing diversity and inclusion best practices with Stedman Graham, author and CEO of S. Graham & Associates; and Carl Allegretti, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Tax LLP. If you like to learn more about Stedman, Carl, or any of the topics discussed on today’s broadcast you can find that information on our website it is

For all the good folks here at Insights, I am Sean O’Grady, we will see you next time.

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