Workday's Carin Taylor on what a mature diversity approach looks like

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are desirable things in a high-functioning workplace, but they aren't always easy to achieve. Many companies have to go through an evolutionary process of developing and refining a DEIB policy that meets the needs of their workplace, often with lengthy experimentation and learning.

Being able to draw from the insights and best practices of companies with established DEIB strategies can accelerate the maturation of DEIB strategies. So when People Matters had the opportunity to learn from Workday's Chief Diversity Officer, Carin Taylor, we jumped at it.

Carin joined Workday in 2018 as its first Chief Diversity Officer, and manages the global development and execution of Workday's VIBE (Value Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity for all) strategy. Here, we present five pointers from our conversation with her.

Have a clear definition of diversity

“If you leave it up to the organisation to interpret what your DEI efforts are, your 20,000 employees are going to interpret it in 20,000 different ways,” Carin says.

Her advice is simple: be very intentional about defining what diversity is and what goals the organisation needs to have around diversity. And then make sure that people understand the goals and that there's plenty of visibility around how the leadership is contributing to these goals and supporting the diversity strategy.

And how does Workday itself define diversity?

“At Workday, we define diversity simply as difference. When you put two people in a room, those two people are diverse. It doesn't matter if it's a white person or a Black person or an Asian person or an LGBTQ person. They are diverse, they are part of the diversity agenda.”

Collect data intentionally

Intentionality has to extend not just across definitions and goals, but how those goals are met. In particular, data around diversity must be collected with a specific objective in mind. Employees need an incentive to give that data to the company – to fill in pulse surveys regularly and candidly – and Carin's advice here is to be open and frank about the reasons for the data collection and what the outcomes are.

“We actually do something with the data we collect, and we also tell our employees what we did,” she says of Workday's approach. “That lets employees see that we really are taking their feedback and reacting to what they're saying, and that the outcome of them giving us this data is us putting in processes or resources that will help them.”

Link inclusion to business outcomes

People really appreciate seeing outcomes, and this is especially the case for business leaders who have to constantly keep one eye on the bottom line. Therefore, diversity leaders need to consciously give what the business is looking for: that link between the diversity strategy and the bottom line.

Carin describes it like this: “When we connect people and processes to culture, values, and purpose, we really are having a direct impact on the business because we already know that if someone doesn't feel like they belong, they are much less productive.”

Even if these intangible aspects of the workplace do not connect directly to financial numbers, they do link to things like productivity, innovation, and the quality of employee interactions with customers, Carin says. And those in turn connect to very tangible bottom line measurables like product quality and customer satisfaction.

Leverage business partners' expertise

So how do we know which of the bottom line measurables can be actively supported by better diversity? The business partners have the answer, Carin says. Therefore at Workday, the diversity team partners with business leaders who have a strong understanding of how various factors impact the business. These partners help them connect diversity to a wide range of business-critical areas, from technology and AI to talent and processes, to social impact, to performance management, speed and efficiency, and more.

Communicate with external stakeholders

Organisations with a strong DEIB strategy are uniquely placed to influence their community, and Workday makes an effort to do so effectively.

“We have a very strong value system, and we do expect that our customers and our partners and the folks that we work with are going to align with our values,” Carin says. It's about protecting the ecosystem such that employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders can have a good experience within that ecosystem, she adds.

This is accomplished by the simple but also intensive approach of communicating expectations and engaging constantly. Workday has clear and specific expectations for what the company wants to see in partners, diversity-wise, and the diversity team is ready to help partners close any gaps through engagement and even training if needed.

“If something isn't working for an employee, a customer, or a partner, they have the opportunity to bring that up with us,” Carin says. “They can openly say, 'There's not good behaviour here. How do we change that?' And then we can work with them on it.”

Read the original interview here.


Browse more in: