Diversity & Inclusion at McKesson: Top to Bottom

by LP Green, II

Lots of companies talk about the importance of diversity & inclusion (D&I), but those conversations don’t often extend beyond the human resources department. To truly make D&I a priority, every level of the organization needs to be involved, and Janice Little, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at McKesson Corporation, took this strategy to heart. In partnership with company leaders (including CEO John Hammergren), she set down a path of engaging everyone – including the board of directors.

But to empower individuals at every level, McKesson’s most senior leaders needed to lead by example. They needed a clear strategy and the right tools to own and advance D&I. From the start, CEO and Chairman of the Board, John Hammergren clearly made D&I a priority. He hosts the Chairman’s Diversity Council meetings, ensures D&I is on the agenda annually for the board of directors, and champions D&I at every opportunity. John’s commitment was critical, creating a waterfall effect to leaders downstream.

“To be sustainable, diversity and inclusion must be integrated into how we do business,” said Little, who joined McKesson in 2010 in the early phases of its D&I journey.“Today, D&I efforts are a key component of annual performance ‘scorecards’ for leaders. We know that what gets measured is what gets done and our leaders embrace this philosophy. So, we measure D&I through workforce indicators, engagement and inclusion scores on our Employee Opinion Survey while keeping a pulse on our culture through our Employee Resource Groups. We are invested and we hold ourselves accountable. We are fortunate to also have a board of directors that is just as committed to D&I as we are.”

From there, company leaders began taking steps to improve and advance D&I on their own, truly leading by example. One leader voluntarily increased his D&I goal by 50% over and above the required commitment. To achieve the ambitious target, the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee (DISC) was established to leverage the collective capability of senior leaders to assist McKesson in meeting or exceeding its representation goals while building a more inclusive culture. The DISC also hosted Diversity Summits (education forums) in several locations across the US, engaging leaders in dialogue around D&I topics and identifying actions to advance diversity. Thanks to such efforts, the business unit leader surpassed his ambitious target. In fact, McKesson has improved its workforce representation for women, people of color, military and disability over the past 3 years.

Business unit leaders have also immersed themselves into two critical McKesson partnerships, the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and Women in Business Leadership (WBL), to support key, targeted populations at the company: people of color and women. For example, several business unit presidents and board members have participated in events for both ELC and WBL.

The goal, however, is to involve the entire company. Of McKes- son’s US employees, 15% are involved in one or more of the eight national Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) available to McKesson employees, supporting groups such as women, Blacks, LGBT, veterans, Latinos, Pan-Asians, individuals with disabilities and emerging professionals. More impressive than the number of people involved, five are sponsored by senior executive leaders, helping these ERGs to advance inclusion within the company. For example, OWN IT, McKesson’s ERG for women, conducted benchmarks for a parental leave assessment. McKesson looked to this work in deciding to launch its first parental leave policy.

McKesson’s commitment to D&I is paying off. Over the past few years, the company has made good progress in its workforce representation and inclusive culture efforts.

“While we recognize that there is still more to do, we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved at McKesson,” concluded Little. “Diversity and Inclusion has moved beyond a corporate initiative – more and more, it is becoming part of our company’s culture.”

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