DIVERSITY At AT&T
Instructions: Evaluate how accessible diversity-related material is on this Web site. Is there a direct link from the home page? What type of results does entering the term “diversity” in a search box yield? Or, do you have to explore on your own? Sometimes searching under “careers” or “press releases” may produce some diversity-related results. On some Web sites, you will have to explore deeply into Web pages to find material related to diversity. What does this say about the organization’s commitment to diversity?
Evaluate the usefulness of the diversity information to potential employees, customers, and suppliers. Is the diversity material related to the organization’s business case for diversity, core values, mission, etc. the way that the organization does business? How current is the diversity-related material?
Evaluate the appropriateness of the photographs and graphic material that relates to diversity. Some Web sites will feature photographs of diverse employees and customers, yet not link this material to the verbal content. Some reuse the same pictures on different pages, etc.
Assume that you are a) a potential employee, b) a potential customer and c) a potential supplier or subcontractor. What perceptions might you have about this organization’s commitment to diversity based solely on the Web site? Looking at this Web site, do you think that it encourages or discourages diverse employees to apply for jobs in this organization? Why or why not?
What internal management issues can affect the prominence that diversity gets or doesn’t get on an organization’s Web site?
Are there any diversity awards listed on the Web site? If so, review the criteria and selection process as presented in the Allard article on awards (from the textbook) or if the award is not mentioned in that article. Evaluate the value of the award through the sponsoring organization’s Web site.
If you were a (female, over 55, racial minority, person with a physical challenge, gay or lesbian, etc.) job applicant and you have read an ad for job opening for which you are fully qualified. Based on your audit of the company web site what perceptions might you have of this company before you even walk in the door? Would you still apply for the job? Why or why not?
Primary Dimensions Include:
Gender Mental/Physical abilities
Race Ethnic Heritage
Secondary Dimensions Include:
Military and Work Experience
DIVERSITY At AT&T
- The company that shall be the focus of this paper is AT&T, a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. To assess the diversity information and policy of the company, I accessed the company website at www.att.com. I observed that the homepage is mainly used to advertise and give information on the various services that the company offers, which is not unusual since the company deals in telecommunications. There is no direct link from the homepage to the diversity and inclusion page. On using the search term ‘diversity’ within the website’s search box, there is a total of 698 results. The first four results yielded give links to articles written regarding various diversity efforts at the company. The fifth and sixth results produced prove to be the most relevant in this case since they provide links to the pages that deal with diversity and inclusion at AT&T. Other than this path, one could explore the site on their own so as to access the diversity-related information. At the top left corner of the homepage or any other page on the AT&T website, there are three menu options: Personal, Business and About AT&T. The latter option is the one that gives direct access to the diversity and inclusion page. The fact that diversity-related information is readily accessed by selecting the ‘About AT&T’ menu option shows that the company has an enhanced level of commitment to diversity.
- I consider the diversity information given within the diversity and inclusion page to be quite useful for all stakeholders of the company, that is, employees, suppliers, customers, job applicants, and the immediate communities. I believe that the diversity mission, core values, and policies of the company are highly related to the way in which the company does its business. This is a fact acknowledged by AT&T Chief Diversity Officer, Cynt Marshall, an African American woman. She observes that diversity is a vital business strategy that affects the company’s bottom line (Rodriguez, 2016). The simplest way to observe this is through the company’s employees whereby the company has a representation of 13% and 19% of Hispanics and African Americans within its workforce, figures that are close to or exceed both group’s representation within the overall U.S. population. Furthermore, the company’s board of directors includes two African Americans and four women.
Employees are not the only sign of diversity efforts at the company. AT&T also ensures that its supplier base is full of diversity to give back the money to the disabled, women, minorities and veteran businesses. The company further realized that such diversity needs to extend to its customers, hence operates several hundred centers around the country where people are served in languages other than English (AT&T, 2016). The company’s marketing and advertising campaigns also represent the diversity of the local communities and additionally feature diverse individuals.
The diversity information is current and updated, signified by the fact that the Diversity and Inclusion 2016 Annual Report, accessible from the company’s diversity page.
- The images and photographic content used on the website relating to diversity is entirely appropriate and efficient. All the images of diverse employees, customers and suppliers have been linked to verbal information that shows the company’s diversity efforts towards these groups of stakeholders. The diversity page only features four photos of different diverse stakeholders. The aforementioned Diversity and Inclusion 2016 Annual Report, however, features a large number of photos that clearly show the range of diverse people and the multitude of diversity efforts carried out by the company, for example, Employee Resource Groups, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) social engagements, musical experiences for the deaf community, sponsorship of the Mexican National Team, and others (AT&T, 2016).
- My perception of the company whether as a potential employee, customer or supplier/subcontractor will be the same considering the level of commitment to diversity that the company has towards all these stakeholders. My perceptions based solely on the website are that AT&T have a high commitment towards diversity due to the amount of work that the company puts in engaging with, and supporting diversity across all facets of the business. The company, through its website, has taken some effort to ensure that it has dealt with diversity not only in a general manner but through dealing with each stakeholder group separately. This is a commendable effort since even though diversity effort may be somewhat similar, different stakeholders experience diversity in a variety of ways. For example, even though the general goal may be to increase diversity within the AT&T workforce and customer base, the manner in which the diversity issues of these different stakeholders will be addressed differently. For the employees, they may be more suited for Employee Resource Groups which will help them with advocacy, mentoring, education and more, both within the company and outside it. As for the customers, they may be more suited to diversity efforts such as the multilingual customer care and call centers. I, therefore, hold that the company website promotes diversity and hence encourages diverse people to apply for jobs at AT&T.
- Some internal management issues can affect workplace diversity, or in this case, the prominence with which diversity is displayed on a company’s website. One of the first management issues concerns the diversity of the company’s managers. It would be hard for a homogenous group of managers to actively promote and encourage workplace diversity without any external influence. A related internal management issue that may inhibit the promotion of diversity material on a company’s website concerns prejudice and discrimination (Wooten & James, 2004). Prejudice and discrimination may become internal management issues if the managers of a company hold certain biases against people different from them. In such a case, therefore, the management team will not be motivated to promote diversity, whether within the company or on the company website.
Such a scenario would most probably happen in a homogenous managerial setting where lack of diversity within the administrative team will lead to a lack of consideration of various diversity and inclusion related issues. It would seem that the only way to go around such issues would be to increase the diversity of the managerial team within the company. Without such managerial diversity, it would be close to impossible to promote diversity issues within the company even with external pressure. External pressure from various stakeholders, and even internal pressure from employees will do little to promote diversity within a company whose top executives and various managers are not motivated to do the same. Some headway may be gained regarding getting some diversity policy or slightly increasing the number of diverse workforces, but the reality in the company’s operations will still reflect the go-slow approach of the managers to the issue of diversity. It has been shown that organizational leaders are essential in achieving various diversity goals, hence, without the active participation and enthusiasm of company leadership to promote diversity, most efforts will be in vain.
- There are some diversity-related awards listed on the AT&T website. The awards are listed on a pdf document link provided on the website’s diversity page. There are some awards listed on the page which include:
- 2015 Employer of the Year – Careers & The Disabled Magazine
- Top 50 Companies – 2015 National Association for Female Executives
- Top 50 Best Companies for Diversity – DiversityInc.
- #1 for Supplier Diversity – DiversityInc.
- 20 Happiest Companies for Young Professionals – 2014 Forbes
- 2015 Best Company for Diversity – Black Enterprise Magazine
- Best Company for Mentoring (2014) and Best Company for ERGs (2015) – Asia Society
For the DiversityInc, their Diversity ranking list began in 2001 with participation increasing every year. They reviewed more than 1800 companies in 2016. Their list and method of ranking are wholly derived from corporate survey submissions whereby companies are evaluated within the context of their industries. Participation is free with each participating company receiving a free report card. Performance is assessed in four key areas of diversity: Equitable talent development; Talent pipeline; supplier diversity; and, CEO/Leadership Commitment (DiversityInc, 2016).
Black Enterprise Magazine used surveys sent to the top 1000 publicly traded companies, as well as the top 100 global companies with strong presence in the U.S. The magazine, focused on activities related to participation of African Americans and other ethnic minority groups. Their survey measured companies based on four categories: Supplier Diversity; Employee base; Board of Directors; and Senior Management (How We Compiled the 40 Best Companies for Diversity, 2012). As for the Asia Society, they use a combination of surveys and a judging panel to select winners and finalists. 80% of the score derives from employee survey responses with the remaining 20% coming from the judging panel composed of 4 experts in diversity leadership.
It shall be observed therefore that most of the awards given to AT&T regarding diversity derived from a set of surveys sent to various participating companies all across the U.S.
- If I was a job applicant who was a minority in diversity terms, that is, I was either a female, over the age of 55, racial/ethnic minority, physically challenged or gay/lesbian, there are certain perceptions that I would have of the company based on the information on their website. First of all, I would be assured of the company’s commitment to diversity. Their commitment is clearly displayed on their website and through the various document such as the Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report and Awards document accessed from the diversity page on the company’s website. Since some companies have been shown to exaggerate their efforts regarding Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity and Inclusion, I would not immediately be convinced of the company’s commitment to diversity through its website solely. However, I was convinced of this perception due to the various diversity-related awards that the company has won. Examining the criteria and process undergone to give such awards, I remain convinced that AT&T is highly committed to diversity and inclusion through-out all its stakeholders. I would therefore not hesitate to apply for the job.
AT&T. (2016). Diversity & Inclusion 2015 Annual Report. Dallas: AT&T.
AT&T. (2016). Our Customers. Retrieved from ATT: http://about.att.com/sites/diversity/our_customers
DiversityInc. (2016). Aboutr the DiversityInc Top 50 Process. Retrieved from DiversityInc: http://www.diversityinc.com/about-the-diversityinc-top-50/
How We Compiled the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. (2012, July 9). Retrieved from DiversityInc: http://www.blackenterprise.com/mag/how-we-compiled-the-40-best-companies-for-diversity/
Rodriguez, S. (2016, January 14). AT&T Chief Diversity Officer: Divesity Key to Company’s Profitability. Retrieved from IBTimes: http://www.ibtimes.com/att-chief-diversity-officer-diversity-key-companys-profitability-2262543
Wooten, L. P., & James, E. H. (2004). When firms fail to learn the perpetuation of discrimination in the workplace. Journal of Management Inquiry, 13(1), 23-33.