By Kristin Stoller
For as long as Keyla Cabret can remember, diversity has been a priority at Aflac. Years before companies started boasting equity and inclusion initiatives, the insurance giant was creating diverse pipelines, recruiting Black high school students in Columbus, Georgia, for its internship program.
That’s how Cabret got her start at the company: In 1995, the then high school sophomore worked two hours a day as a part-time human resources intern. Some 26 years later, she’s come full circle as Aflac’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It’s been a life-building investment. That was an investment in me and the program the company had. I’m really proud of the foresight we had,” she says. “For young professionals like myself, there has always been an opportunity here. I’ve never had an issue of seeing myself in a lead role. I’ve had plenty of examples of success.”
Those examples still exist today. At the end of 2020, Aflac reported that 46% of its U.S. employees are from underrepresented communities, while 65% are women. And roughly 64% of the company’s board is made up of individuals from both of these groups.
This commitment to equity earned the insurance company No. 9 on our fourth annual list of America’s Best Employers For Diversity. Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to survey 50,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees and pinpoint the companies they identified as most dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. When compiling the list, the diversity of corporations’ boards and executive ranks were taken into account, as were DEI initiatives and recent allegations or unresolved lawsuits related to workplace diversity.
“Diversity is a given, inclusion is a choice, equity is a goal. Belonging is our ultimate end point.”
Camille Chang Gilmore, Boston Scientific’s global chief diversity officer
Since the last iteration of this list, a global pandemic and numerous social justice movements have rocked the U.S. Of the thousands of companies considered for the ranking, 60% are proactively sharing on their websites what they’re doing to promote diversity, up from 46% this time last year. Additionally, 28% now have a senior leader whose sole responsibility is DEI, up from 18% in 2020.
Employers in the education and insurance industries have the greatest presence in the top 50, accounting for 34% of the upper echelon. But the No. 1 spot on the list goes to commercial real estate firm JLL.
Ingrid Jacobs, JLL’s head of diversity and inclusion, attributes this to the company’s top-down focus on creating an inclusive workplace. At the board level, for example, the company says 75% of directors represent gender or racial diversity. “I do feel very proud about that,” Jacobs says. “That’s a differentiator not just in the industry, but in general.”
And in the Americas, more than 8,000 of JLL’s workers participate in 80-plus local chapters of 9 employee-led business resource groups, including ones called Empower–Black Professionals Network, the Asian Business Professionals Network and the Women’s Business Network.
“You hear the cliché that [diversity programs] drive business results,” she says. “For us it has and continues to do so.”
In 2018, the medical device manufacturing company pledged to increase the number of people of color and women in supervisory and managerial roles to 20% (in the U.S. and Puerto Rico) and 40% (globally), respectively, by 2020. Since meeting these goals last year, Chang Gilmore says she and her colleagues have “put our foot on the gas,” with aims to increase representation among both of these groups an additional 3% by 2023.
“Diversity is about three things: Diversity is a given, inclusion is a choice, equity is a goal. Belonging is our ultimate end point,” Chang Gilmore says. “When you recognize those three things, you create a culture that is on fire.”
For the full list of America’s Best Employers For Diversity, click here.