The mantra of many corporate diversity practitioners is that creating an inclusive environment must be part of the culture at all levels, not just stand-alone seminars or initiatives. This holds true at Ernst & Young, according to Karyn Twaronite, the company’s Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Officer. She recently sat down to talk best practices with Fortune.
“Where we’ve had some pitfalls in the past is when things have been seen solely as a program — one program, done,” she said, but it’s simple, continuous tools that often prove to be most effective.
Twaronite points to PTR as one example. The acronym, which stands for preference, tradition, and requirement, is a decision-making strategy used at EY that asks managers to pause and consider diversity and inclusion. It challenges leaders to examine their preferences toward candidates similar to themselves, consider whether their decision is being influenced by the traditional characteristics of a certain role or outcome and make their choice based on the requirements of the post rather than either of the first two factors.
The tool gives people a way of questioning the status quo without accusing colleagues of being biased, she said.
“[PTR] is highly effective. It’s been used across borders, across languages, across the world and it’s very small and simple,” said Twaronite, who has worked at EY for over 20 years. She began her career there as an accountant and eventually moved into more people-oriented roles, taking on diversity and inclusiveness position after spearheading the roadmap EY uses to track improvements to its company culture.
Last year EY worked with over 200,000 clients in more than 150 countries around the world in 2016. Because its operations span physical borders and language barriers, the company says it made a commitment to workforce diversity early on and is in a prime position to share its practices with a large portion of corporate America.
Motivation to take diversity seriously has also come from within. Millennials make up about two-thirds of EY’s U.S. workforce, appearing almost twice as often as in the workforce nationwide.
Many of those young workers have been asking for more training and a more multicultural corporate culture, according to Twaronite.
“At the end of the day what we wanted to do, our vision, is building a better working world,” Twaronite said of their inclusion efforts. “If every company is rising the tide on this, it’s really good for my people. It’s really good for the environment overall. It’s really good for the business world overall.”
As consultants, EY says it must respond not only to the needs of employees but also clients.
“We talk a lot about listening to our people and the needs of our people,” she said. “There’s also another piece about clients and customers that have made [diversity and inclusion] a very commercial topic, meaning there are companies that select us because of our work in this space.”