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Diversity & Inclusion: Be Open to Think Globally, Act Locally

January 31, 2014

The business case for diversity and inclusion is straightforward: companies are more successful, creative, and productive when employees who differ in background interact and share ideas. Nurturing this type of environment, in a way that is consistent with Bloomberg culture, is the mission of the Diversity & Inclusion team.

“When you focus on diversity and inclusion, you need to have a global strategy, but one that is tailored to each region,” says Elana Weinstein, head of Diversity & Inclusion. “Local cultural differences play an important role in determining which goals we prioritize.” In Japan, for example, where the cultural expectation is that women are less involved in the workforce after having children, one focus area is retaining women and providing opportunities for leadership development. There is also an emphasis on ensuring that people who are local have the opportunity to move into leadership roles. In the UK, where there is a heightened focus on employing people with disabilities, Bloomberg partners with the Business Disability Forum, which provides a range of advice, support, and tools to help organizations become disability savvy.

The need for diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives may differ from region to region and even business to business, but the benefits are consistent: a more diverse and inclusive atmosphere leads to more innovation, allows the company to operate more efficiently across cultures, and emphasizes a focus on the need to recruit and retain better talent.

“Recruiting diverse talent can be challenging,” Weinstein reports. “For instance, in our R&D business we are focused on attracting female students and people of color, as fewer of them pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, either because they are not exposed to that career path or because it is hard to stay committed to a course of study when you don’t have a built-in support network of people similar to you.” To help address this, Bloomberg launched the Bloomberg Technical Scholarship Program in 2013, which provides college scholarships to students of underrepresented groups in STEM careers.

“We focus our D&I efforts, branded as ‘B OPEN,’ based on the needs of our business and our employees,” says Weinstein, who works with a global team to formulate B OPEN strategy and execution. Part of that focus includes encouraging employees to foster new business opportunities in the markets where Bloomberg is experiencing growth or has the potential to do so. It is also focused on identifying talent in growth markets to increase the diversity of our pipeline. For example, Bloomberg is partnering with the African Leadership Academy’s (ALA) alumni network in South Africa to recruit potential candidates for the summer internship program and for local hiring in our Cape Town and Johannesburg offices. The alliance also allows Bloomberg to effectively tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa’s emerging economies.

The D&I team also holds trainings for team leaders and managers that help them develop D&I professional skills and provide instruction on how to manage different types of people, including understanding and being aware of unconscious bias. “The biases you have affect the day-to-day employment decisions you make,” notes Weinstein. “It’s important for managers to be aware of that.”

Launching the BPROUD (LGBT), Women’s, and Black Professional communities is one way the D&I team is increasing awareness, as well as providing a network for the members to connect with one another. The groups also help Bloomberg identify and partner with organizations that can help the company broaden its candidate pool.

Improving and promoting the B OPEN strategy at Bloomberg takes initiative from all employees, which is why the efforts of the D&I team overlap with the work of other areas, including Sustainability, Philanthropy, Recruiting, and Benefits. “There is synergy in our efforts to effect social change, social impact, and improve the communities we live and work in,” says Weinstein. “Together we help drive the social impact agenda for the company.”

Contributed by On Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP’s internal newswire.