How Do We Make Our Companies More Equal?

How Do We Make Our Companies More Equal?

History is probably going to remember 2018 as a pretty significant year for gender relations in the workplace. We saw countless examples of a major cultural shift this year in terms of what the so-called playing field is going to look like moving forward. Namely, companies all across the country are taking gender equality off the back burner and making it a priority.

Many of Indiana’s leading companies have great strategic examples of how to achieve a more equal workplace. With so much to be learned, we reached out to them and asked:

What are some specific strategies your company is using to develop greater workplace gender equality?


Scroll to view the responses, or click to jump to companies:

Duke Energy Indiana, NiSource, Cushman & Wakefield, Meyer Najem Construction, Salesforce, ArcelorMittal, CareHere


Melody Birmingham-Byrd
Senior Vice President, Chief Procurement Officer
Duke Energy Indiana

Female leaders bring important perspectives to the workplace, making companies more dynamic and successful. Duke Energy is ahead of the utility industry benchmark for female representation, with 33 percent of our senior leadership team, including our CEO, comprised of females.

Some of the steps we have taken to continue building inclusivity:

  • Last year we piloted a 12-month sponsorship program to develop our high-potential female and minority talent. Existing leaders are paired with diverse employees with leadership potential to work with them on career development. Because of the pilot’s success, we’re extending the sponsorship further into our organization.
  • We are the first energy company to take the congressional HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Partnership Challenge along with companies such as Amazon, Lyft and Intel. We’re working with the military, community colleges, universities and professional organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, to attract women and diverse talent.
  • Highlighting careers in technical roles and non-traditional fields is important to developing our workforce. During Women’s History Month, our internal and external campaign featured women in all aspects of our business and highlighted opportunities for a changing workforce.


Carrie Hightman
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer,
Executive Inclusion and Diversity Champion

Gender equality has been an important focus at NiSource for many years and is a critical component of our journey toward building and maintaining a diverse work force, and an inclusive workplace where all can contribute and thrive.

In 2011, we recognized that women were underrepresented in leadership positions at NiSource. We built and implemented a development program focused on providing the next generation of female leaders with the knowledge, resources and support needed to bridge that gap, and we engaged men in the conversation.

The program was designed to help us build a culture in which we could recruit, retain and develop more women, including:

  • A formal women’s mentoring program;
  • An annual Women in Leadership Summit including internal and outside speakers, as well as breakout sessions for more specialized training and development;
  • Regional meetings held throughout our footprint to provide an abridged version of the Summit content deeper into the organization; and
  • Creation of an employee resource group — Developing and Advancing Women at NiSource (DAWN) — focused on our women at NiSource.

The Women in Leadership program was well-received and many participants have attributed their continued growth and success to their involvement in the program. Over the years, we realized the need to broaden our efforts to all underrepresented employees at NiSource. Accordingly, we’ve expanded our successful programs and added others to provide unique development opportunities to all of our diverse talent at all career levels.


Tim Michel
Managing Principal of Indianapolis Office
Cushman & Wakefield

At Cushman & Wakefield, inclusion and diversity are significant principles. We are committed to fostering, cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion. Inclusion is a business philosophy and a way of managing and behaving that is embedded in everything we do.

Cushman & Wakefield embraces and encourages its employees’ differences in age, color, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees unique because we know that our human capital is the most valuable asset we have.

The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities and talent that our employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture, but our reputation and company’s achievement as well.

Cultivating a robust diversity and inclusion (D&I) program is a top priority championed by our Chairman and CEO Brett White as well as by the firm’s Americas leadership. We have established an Americas Diversity & Inclusion Council charged with developing and promoting education and awareness of diversity and inclusion strategies as well as serving as a forum for sharing best practices.

One of the council’s goals is recruiting­ — ensuring we hire professionals from a diverse, qualified group of potential applicants. Gender diversity has been the initial primary focus, and it has paid off. Following a number of initiatives to improve the attraction and retention of female talent in the Americas, 42 percent of new hires and 57 percent of promotions were women in 2017.

This year, the council is addressing other diversity initiatives in addition to gender diversity, and more leaders have joined to broaden perspective about how we can continue to model diversity. We remain focused on identifying ways to build a pipeline of diverse talent and strengthening our culture of inclusion so that all feel welcomed and part of the Cushman & Wakefield team.

It is simply the right thing to do.


Sam Mishelow
Chief Strategy Officer
Meyer Najem Construction, LLC

As an industry veteran, it’s been my experience that the reason a gender gap exists in construction is that there is little to no available workforce. There simply aren’t enough women who consider construction a viable and transferable career to pursue. In addition, the industry is just beginning to educate our younger generation of the potential that a career in construction provides. As a result, our industry suffers from a gender imbalance, especially in the operational segments of the industry.

Consequently, our firm is developing strategies to close the gender inequality gap. One method is to do a better job of retaining women who are already within our firm. This starts with our culture of “family first” supporting an environment that promotes a healthy work-life balance. According to a 2008 Harvard Business Review report, “52% of women in science, engineering, and technology jobs ultimately depart from their respective fields.” In review of an article by Google, “there is so much pressure on working women to return to work, that some women just decide it’s not worth it to return.” Of the women who work at Meyer Najem, their average tenure with our firm is 8.5 years. We need to continue to focus on retaining and supporting the women in our firm.

Some industry sectors are beginning to gain recognition for extending paid leave for new parents. In November, Amazon expanded its benefits to 20 weeks of paid leave for birth mothers. Will this trend trickle down to the construction industry? It may be too early to tell.

Additionally, our firm created several internal “innovation committees.” One of which is our Employee Diversity and Inclusion initiative, led by our VP of Safety and Compliance, Traci Hardin.

Amy Estep, Human Resources Manager will play a major role in monitoring our progress. “Diversity and Inclusion is a major initiative for Meyer Najem this year, and on-going. We have put a plan in place to not only educate our employees on the topic of Diversity and Inclusion, but most importantly, to expose ourselves to a diverse talent pool. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been instrumental in pushing this initiative forward.”


Tony Prophet
Chief Equality Officer

Equality is a core value at Salesforce, and with this, comes a commitment to workplace gender equality. A few ways we further gender equality include:

Employee Resource Groups: Salesforce supports 10 employee resource groups, called Ohana Groups, to provide a community for underrepresented groups and their allies, offer professional development and mentoring opportunities, and empower employees to be responsive equality leaders in their community. This includes our Salesforce Women’s Network, with about 500 members in Indianapolis, and nearly 8,000 globally.

Equal Pay: Four years ago, we made a commitment to ensure equal pay for equal work. Since then, we’ve conducted three global equal pay assessments, and we’ve addressed unexplained differences in pay between men and women.

Inclusive Practices: We’ve created Inclusive Hiring and Inclusive Leadership practices implemented through our self-learning platform — Trailhead — to help eliminate bias, including gender bias, in our hiring and guide leaders to cultivate an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, valued and empowered to perform the best work of their careers.


Beth Spurgeon
Division Manager of Corporate Responsibility
ArcelorMittal Americas

Through our global Diversity and Inclusion Policy, our goal is to build a modern, flexible workplace which allows for a thriving workforce where everybody is treated equally and respected for their contribution.

In the United States, we have strategies in place to improve gender diversity and equality. One of those strategies is our national partnership with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). ArcelorMittal has been involved with SWE since 2014, serving on its Corporate Partnership Council, a coalition of large companies who share best practices in recruiting, retaining and advancing women and diversity in engineering fields. As part of ArcelorMittal’s partnership, employees have access to company-sponsored individual memberships, which offers training, networking and leadership development to women at various stages of their careers. We also serve as a co-host of the opening event for SWE’s annual conference, the world’s largest conference for female engineers, where we promote opportunities and success stories of female engineers in the industry.

The cornerstone of ArcelorMittal’s global community investment program is supporting STEM education. In 2017, 48 percent of our U.S. grant funding was allocated to STEM programming. Many of our STEM grant initiatives are focused on serving groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, specifically focusing on female and minority students.

Our focus on diversity also extends to our supply chain. We seek to hire more qualified and certified Minority, Women and Veteran Enterprises (MBE, WBE and VETs) in our procurement process. Last year, ArcelorMittal USA spent $262 million with Diversity Enterprises.


Jeremy T. Tolley
SHRM-SCP, Chief People Officer
CareHere, LLC

CareHere is fortunate that gender equality was embraced by our founders from the beginning. The company currently has 68% of management and leadership roles occupied by women, but headcount alone is an inadequate measure of workplace equality. For the past two years, CareHere has focused primarily on two opportunities to further promote gender equality: compensation design and hiring practices.

Historically, CareHere recruiters asked job candidates to share their pay histories and this knowledge often influenced salary offers. It’s no secret that average pay for women in the U.S. is lower than for men and company leaders did not want to perpetuate that statistic. CareHere changed the policy so that pay history is never asked of our candidates and is not a factor in determining pay.

CareHere believes there is less opportunity for bias in hiring and promotion decisions when a diverse, cross-functional group is involved in interviews. Two years ago, we implemented a panel interview policy for all corporate and management openings. This panel selection process, combined with standardized selection protocol and validated pre-employment assessments, is helping us eliminate biases and making better hiring decisions.

Training is on our radar for 2019, including a new interactive curriculum for all employees focused on preventing workplace discrimination and harassment. We also plan to implement a training series to teach our managers how to lead, coach, mentor and communicate for a more inclusive workplace.



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