DE&I: Driving Corporate Culture and Business Results
by Women In Trucking Staff, on Aug 23, 2023 8:54:07 AM
2023 I Heart Trucking Photo Contest submission from Megan Miller: "Bridgestone loves all powerful female teammates, partners and fleets we work with every day!"
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has become a common catchphrase in American culture, but what is it? While it can mean different things across companies in transportation, DE&I involves these three closely linked values to support different groups of individuals that can include people of different genders, races, ethnicities, religions, abilities and sexual orientations.
There are compelling advantages to building a corporate culture grounded in DE&I, ranging from attracting top talent, creating a welcoming environment, and making employees feel valued, to fostering a more collaborative and creative workplace, producing new ideas, and enhancing productivity.
More than ever, companies involved in the freight transportation industry are placing energy and resources toward becoming DE&I-centric. In fact, according to the 2023 WIT Index, 56.4% of 350 participating companies report they have DE&I policies currently in place – an increase of 10.9% from last year. While 19.3% reported they do not currently have a formal DE&I policy in place (which is down 11.7% from last year), another 19.3% reported they are in the process of developing a formal DE&I policy (which is close to the same percentage reported last year).
Bridgestone Americas was named a 2022 Top Company for Women to Work For in Transportation
DEI Case Study: Bridgestone Americas
Bridgestone Americas is the U.S.-based subsidiary of Bridgestone Corp. Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Bridgestone Americas employs more than 50,000 people across their worldwide operations. Redefining the Road (RTR) magazine turned to Sara Correa, Chief Marketing Officer for Bridgestone Americas, to give her perspectives about how DE&I has shaped the company’s corporate culture.
What’s Bridgestone Americas’ DE&I Story?
Correa: We believe people can only provide superior service and quality to others when they are allowed to bring their authentic selves to work and know they are supported. We believe in championing all perspectives, individuals and teams because we understand the importance of seeing the world and our business through many different lenses. We are building a team as diverse as the world we serve and we think about our DE&I journey through a framework that considers our workplace, our workforce, and our marketplace.
With competition for talent so intense, why is DE&I important?
Correa: DE&I is a part of our culture and DNA at Bridgestone. Since our inception, our founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, instilled a belief that what is good for society is good for business. DE&I is a great example.
To advance this work, we have created a dedicated DE&I office integrated into our HR function and reporting directly to our Chief Human Resources Officer, with strong linkages to our talent and organizational strategies and processes. We have adopted this structure because we believe having a diverse team with diverse capabilities built through developing, promoting, retaining and recruiting great people is absolutely essential to our success, not just for today but for years to come.
This past year, we introduced our Bridgestone E8 Commitment representing eight values or areas of focus that guide our decision-making as we build a more sustainable society for future generations. One of those core values is Empowerment: increasing accessibility and dignity for all people by promoting DE&I, solving social issues through support of our local communities and creating a corporate culture that empowers our teammates.
Tell us how DEI is part of your business strategy?
Correa: It all started with our teammates. Bridgestone’s first Employee Resource Group (ERG) was established seven years ago and set the stage for teammate-driven leadership in DE&I. Today, we are proud to have six thriving ERGs, united by shared identities and interests that provide a community of support, as well as opportunities for personal, professional and philanthropic development.
Our DE&I Center of Excellence is now leading the charge across the enterprise. To help teammates understand, embrace and rally around DEI, we have an anthem built on three simple words: Free to Be. Impactful new initiatives and results followed the Free to Be campaign, including:
- Launched first DE&I Annual Report and subsequent second Annual Report to serve as benchmarks for progress and to hold Bridgestone accountable in our journey moving forward.
- Created an annual “Free to Be” Week, a week-long celebration that provides an opportunity to reinforce the DE&I strategy, discuss the challenges and celebrate the triumphs.
- Encouraged honest feedback from teammates that led to open dialogues where Bridgestone discussed numbers and action plans.
- Expanded alliances and impact on community, including sponsorship of diversity-focused initiatives and organizations to educate and engage teammates in DE&I activities (including National Society of Black Engineers, Women in Technology, Society of Women Engineers).
- Improved needs-based benefits.
How do you measure ROI generated by your DEI strategy?
Correa: Bridgestone’s DE&I Center of Excellence measures our progress and holds us accountable. It produces our DE&I Annual Report which features quantitative and qualitative results that determine the impact of our efforts, while setting bold goals that will be closely tracked. The report recently outlined momentum and energy to integrate DE&I across all areas, with a focus on three priorities to anchor our DE&I commitments: The workplace, the workforce, and the marketplace.
To be fully transparent, we also created clear scorecards that track and report our DE&I data by job level, including gender and race. The report found that women in leadership roles increased by 3% and there is 33% combined gender and racial diversity on Bridgestone’s Board of Directors. While there is significant room for improvement, the scorecard shows Bridgestone has made progress over the previous year and sets a tone of transparency for future years’ comparisons.
LaTres Jarrett, Executive Director TBR – Canada, Bridgestone Americas, speaking at the 2022 Accelerate! Conference & Expo on what makes a company great for women.
Any advice for other companies looking to establish or enhance their DE&I?
Correa: Transparency is vital. To make a meaningful impact, we believe it is important to be honest about where your journey begins. For Bridgestone, this is why we released a DE&I annual report early in our journey. The data serves as the foundation that we return to in order to measure our progress.
Creating a culture that advances equity, embraces individuality and helps teammates, customers and communities thrive is an intentional journey that requires equal parts persistence and patience.
At Bridgestone, we feel it is important to bring DE&I front and center to the boardroom, to the hallways and to the field for more than 50,000 teammates.
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