In today’s competitive environment, companies continue to look for ways to improve their performance and achieve corporate goals. The task is not easy, but the team of human resource (HR) executives at Allstate Corporation has found that its diversity strategy has become one of the company’s most important competitive weapons. It has long been Allstate’s position that diversity is about neither political mandates nor legal obligation. Rather, the company’s vision is stated this way: “Diversity is Allstate’s strategy for leveraging differences in order to create a competitive advantage.” This strategy has two major points: one internally focused and the other externally focused. According to James DeVries, senior vice president of human resources, the internal diversity focus is about “unlocking the potential for excellence in all workers by providing them the tools, resources, and opportunities to succeed.” The external focus of diversity is about making certain that the workforce matches the experiences, in backgrounds, and sensitivities of markets it serves. In this context, Allstate managers view diversity not as a goal but as a process that is integrated into the daily life of the company.
Allstate launched its first affirmative action program back in 1969. In the early days, its commitment to diversity didn’t always link recruitment, development, and retention strategies to business performance. The company focused more on affirmative action and diversity awareness through education and training. Although these initiatives were considered innovative in their day, they were not linked to Allstate’s business strategy. The director of diversity management notes that the key question has become “How do you take this workforce of differences and bring them together in a more powerful way so that it can impact business results?” Allstate has taken four specific steps:
Step One: Succession Programming. A diverse slate of... [continues]
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