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Make Them One In The Same

January 31, 2002
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Diversity, by nature of its own definition, means different things to different organizations. The key to developing a successful diversity strategy is to identify a clear and unified objective before that strategy is developed. That was where Bernard Hodes Group and their client, Heineken USA began.

Together, they determined that Heineken USA's primary objective was to build a workforce that mirrored the communities in which they did business. According to Annette Merritt Cummings, Vice President And Director Of Diversity Services for Bernard Hodes Group, "We focused on positioning Heineken USA's commitment to diversity in employment, marketing, vendor relations, and community outreach and involvement. To do this, we determined that we would use all communications to reinforce this commitment. The basis for this recommendation, driven by diversity best practice and communications theory, is the notion that a company's diversity mission should not be isolated from their overall corporate mission, but rather, it should be a fully-integrated component."

In order to benchmark perceptions and opinions concerning the importance of the company's vision, pledge to diversity, and media consumption patterns, Bernard Hodes Group conducted on-line research with selected employees and hiring managers. "We surveyed a variety of key personnel then used that data to create a company-wide, adaptable diversity branding statement for use with internal and external audiences," says Cummings.

The message: "Our best ingredients are the talents of our people," became part of all recruitment communications. The campaign was executed in print, trade journals, consumer magazines and on the Web. "In order to most effectively reach passive job seekers in the Hispanic and African-American audiences," Cummings says "we utilized consumer media targeted to those groups."

The Heineken Diversity Council was also established to articulate the mission and identify strategies to effectively manage an environment where individual differences and cultural diversity are accepted and valued. "Heineken started a diversity training program for all employees and reviewed all corporate functions, including marketing, purchasing, philanthropy and community relations in order to ensure a consistent commitment to Heineken's diversity mission," Cummings says.

The resulting advertising campaign considerably increased the diversity of Heineken's applicant pool and achieved all communication goals. The Council developed a long-term action plan and initiated a training program for all Heineken USA employees. And a new corporate position was created to reinforce their commitment to diversity and work with management to measure the success of their strategies.

"This is an excellent example of what a well-executed, consistently-supported and fully-integrated diversity strategy can accomplish," says Cummings. "Heineken USA has followed the right process. Their commitment to diversity is seen in every communication they bring to market, which means not only will prospective employees benefit from their commitment, but so too will existing employees, customers and the communities in which they do business."

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