The 2008 Catalyst Award

ING and Nissan drive away with top rewards for advancement of women in management.

March 20, 2008
by Catalyst

The Catalyst Award annually honors organizations that use innovative approaches with proven results to address the recruitment, development and advancement of all managerial women. Catalyst's rigorous, year-long examination of initiatives and their measurable results culminates in intensive onsite reviews at finalist organizations. By celebrating successful initiatives, Catalyst provides organizations with replicable models to help them create initiatives that are good for women and good for business.

As many CPAs know, Catalyst is a leading nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and business.

On April 9, 2008, the Catalyst Award will be presented for complex and original initiatives from two very different companies. ING U.S. Financial Services (ING USFS) has created a culture that spans the entire organization. Their initiative, Beyond Diversity: Building One ING Culture, recognizes diversity and inclusion as a business imperative and makes all employees — women and men — responsible for achieving it. ING USFS' people have responded to great success.

Women in the Driver's Seat: Gender Diversity As a Lever in Japan, from Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., recognizes the role women play in car-buying decisions and sets out to increase the participation of women throughout its organization. Making change in a work culture like Japan's, however, requires significant changes in the mindset of male employees. With senior leaders as models, this is occurring and the results are impressive.

Beyond Diversity: Building One ING Culture

ING USFS' initiative, Beyond Diversity: Building One ING Culture, has created a unifying culture that identifies diversity and inclusion as a business imperative, increasing the number of female managers at the top-most level and becoming a model for the global organization. In 2001, the company used a transition period of rapid acquisitions and subsequent consolidation to identify the necessary levers for culture change. ING USFS then capitalized on different talents, perspectives and ideas to increase diversity and inclusion across all of its business locations. The resulting "One ING" culture benefits all employees, with a strategic focus to include women and other diverse groups.

The components of the initiative, which overlap and leverage one another, include:

  • A strong branding effort and rewarding employee experience.
  • An "acceleration" or "deceleration" of up to 10 percent of each business unit's bonus pool that is linked specifically to performance on diversity measures, judged quantitatively and qualitatively by the CEO. In addition, managers' personal performance plans include human capital management (HCM) metrics.
  • HCM metrics, such as the number of women "managers of managers" and high-performer retention rates, as well as career development and overall employee satisfaction scores, are closely tracked.
  • A comprehensive project to uncover employee needs that has led to skill-building initiatives, targeted recruitment and mentoring programs.
  • Business-focused employee network groups.
  • Best-practice sharing through annual events, such as a Diversity Symposium.
  • Diversity-related employee volunteer activities through the ING Foundation.

Since the initiative's inception in 2003, ING USFS has increased women's representation on the senior management team from 25 percent to 50 percent and currently, two executive women in profit-and-loss roles manage 80 percent of ING USFS business. Two out of three people in the succession pipeline to CEO are women and the percentage of women in people-manager positions has increased from 45.7 percent in 2003 to 47.9 percent in 2007.

Women in the Driver's Seat: Gender Diversity As a Lever in Japan

Nissan Motor's Japan-only initiative, Women in the Driver's Seat: Gender Diversity As a Lever in Japan, uses diversity to secure business success by increasing women's participation and contribution in all areas of the business. The business case for having women as decision-makers and in positions of influence within the company was developed in response to research identifying women as influencers for two-thirds of all car purchases. With the support of many senior leaders and champions, the resulting diversity strategy focuses on three areas: engagement, education and advancement of women.

The components of the initiative include:

  • The Nissan Way, the principles and values — including diversity — encouraged and expected in the organization.
  • Career advancement support through specialized "Career Advisors," for women only and "Career Coaches," for all high-potential employees.
  • Strategies for increasing the visibility of women role models, such as networking events and diversity forums.
  • Education and awareness-building through mandatory manager training and a robust diversity intranet site.
  • A variety of work-life programs and policies, including flextime, family leave for women and men and programs to reduce overtime work.
  • Ergonomic adjustments to equipment and other improvements in facilities and working conditions at plants that allow women to contribute fully.
  • Strong accountability mechanisms, such as the Global HR scorecard, Employee Surveys and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are linked with managers' targets for promoting and developing women leaders.

The initiative showcases solid increases for women in positions of influence in Japan. Since 2004, representation of women in management positions has increased from two percent (36 women) to four percent (101 women). The percentage of women managers in the design, planning and product planning function has doubled from four percent to eight percent. In the pipeline to management, women assistant managers have increased from two percent to four percent and women team leaders from four percent to seven percent. The percentage of sales people (Car Life Advisors) at Nissan-owned dealerships who are women has increased from four percent to six percent, while the percentage of women in manufacturing plants has more than doubled.

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Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and business. To download free copies of Catalyst research reports, visit www.catalyst.org. You may also sign up to receive our monthly e-mail updates at news@catalyst.org.