Diversity and Inclusion: The Gender Balance in a Performing Organization
Workplace diversity is no longer optional but critical to the success and sustainability of an organization. A 2016 study conducted by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, in partnership with Chief Learning Officer, Talent Management, and Workforce magazines showed that 75% of the respondents identify creating an inclusive culture as an essential priority, while 86% say diversity is important for improving their bottom line. In addition, 95% of respondents believe that an inclusive culture is critical to their organization’s future success. While there have been tremendous improvements in ways companies view diversity and inclusion, some companies are still lagging in putting structures in place to create a truly diverse workforce and not the appearance of diversity in an organization.
In an article published by The Way Ahead, Weiss (2008) cited studies which showed that the companies with the presence of women in executive leadership correlates to high profits and better financial performance than their counterparts with low representation of women in top management positions. The article also pointed to the benefits of diversity in encouraging a more balanced view of problems, and the value of different viewpoints and perspectives in decision making.
For this edition, the TWA HR Discussion team interviewed Theresa Barnett, North America regional manager, Halliburton Consulting, who provides important insight into understanding diversity and inclusion, particularly as it pertains to women, the challenges involved or gaps, and ways organizations can make their workforce truly diverse.
Theresa Barnett is the regional manager for North America in the consulting organization at Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. She has more than 24 years of experience in sales, 18 of which are in the oil and gas services industry. Before Halliburton, she worked at Knowledge Systems, Inc. in business development for the company’s geomechanics service offerings.
How have diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives changed the workplace in oil and gas? And how will it change the workplace in the future?
In Halliburton, we have a D&I program for women called Women Sharing Excellence, which is set up to assist, mostly with the woman aspect, in the workforce. It is made up of Halliburton professionals with the primary objective of furthering employee development, leadership competencies, and increased retention of women in the Halliburton organization. It was started in June 2012. This initiative is not just for women; men can sponsor and are allowed to be a part of this group. I see that this was a good way to make sure our women were able to connect with other women to see the opportunities not only in Halliburton but in other oil and gas services industries as well. The global group now has over 600 members and is still growing in membership. For the future, I see this as an avenue to keep everyone included when mentoring and developing talent.
What should companies keep in mind when trying to develop a more diverse and inclusive workplace? What should employees keep in mind?
I think companies should look at the value D&I brings when closing business. Maybe by sharing some case studies or really good stories. I believe that would keep employees interested in Halliburton and what it has to offer to the employee base. The employees should keep in mind that they do not have to participate, but they need to understand the concept and that this is the direction of their company.
Do D&I initiatives impact recruiting, developing, and retaining talent?
Yes, when we were heavily recruiting, we were asking to consider all D&I aspects when looking for the right candidates.
How can people get more involved in oil and gas D&I initiatives? What advice do you have for those who feel like they are not in an inclusive environment?
Start a group that focuses on the challenges of D&I of today. Help build case studies to show the value not only for the employees but for your company. When employees find that they are not in an inclusive environment, they should take the initiative to speak to their D&I team and see how they can start an inclusive environment at their workplace.
How can oil and gas companies engage people who are not normally interested or involved in this topic?
Case studies; by showcasing the true value obtained when people work holistically; that they can achieve more things than in noninclusive environments.
What do you think are the most effective ways to develop innovative diverse teams? What successes have you or your organization had so far?
I like to think that having culture days or inclusion days where a certain group can demonstrate their culture (clothes, music, food) will be effective. For our group, we try to get everyone’s opinion on finding recommendations to a challenge, even though they might not be fully familiar with the group we may be supporting. Everyone’s opinion should count.
In your view, what are some of the systemic challenges in implementing D& I programs in your organization? What role can the leadership team play in addressing these challenges?
If leaders at the top do not believe in the product, then they don’t see the value. They can address this by actively participating in some of the functions/events or writing articles on how they see D&I contributing to our goals.
What are the key attributes for a successful implementation of D&I programs in an organization?
Some of the key attributes are effective leadership and sponsorship/support, marketing, and the willingness of the people to participate. Our leadership would spotlight meetings, so that Halliburton employees were aware of the event.
One of the benefits of diverse workforce is the increase in productivity and creativity. Can you provide examples of successful projects in your organization that reflected the gains of diversity?
One of the ways we increase our productivity and creativity is by having diverse people on one particular project. At first, you could see that everyone had their own way of doing things (because they always did their work that way), but after working with the team, they collectively came up with a system of how to work, issuing tasks, and peer reviews. Although the delivery of our project was unsuccessful due to several reasons, I believe diversity brought creativity to the team and we used it as an example of D&I.