What happens when great minds don’t think alike?

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

7 minute read 17 Dec 2019
Related topics Global review

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Successful organizations create inclusive environments where employees feel free to be themselves, feel a strong sense of belonging, and have equitable opportunities. This drives better decision-making, stimulates innovation and increases organizational agility and resilience.

Disruption is here to stay. Creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, however, can enable organizations to respond with agility and thrive. At EY we think about diversity broadly. Inclusive team building and leadership are behaviors and actions that people display when they open their minds to perspectives different from their own, and make sure that everyone on their teams and around them can contribute their best.

Inclusive organizations maximize the power of all differences to realize the full potential of all their employees. This drives better decision-making, stimulates innovation, and increases organizational agility and resilience. To demonstrate our commitment, the Global Executive (GE) has signed the EY GE D&I statement, which underscores our increased focus on diversity and inclusiveness.

We recruit and invest in people that reflect a broad spectrum of perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, because solving the problems of a complex world demands it. That is why diversity and inclusiveness are fundamental to EY. We embed core diversity and inclusiveness principles across the entire organization, and we equip EY people with the skills and confidence to team and lead inclusively to maximize everyone’s contributions.

The roadmap for success is our approach and methodology for diversity and inclusiveness and sets out our journey. The roadmap is supported by the Global Diversity and Inclusiveness Steering Committee. Members are drawn from across the organization and the Committee is charged with bringing the roadmap to life across EY by exploring diversity and inclusiveness challenges, elevating successful practices and collaborating on solutions to accelerate positive progress.

1. The benefits of belonging

Cultivating a sense of belonging for all.

Belonging is key to unlocking the business benefits of diversity and inclusiveness. When we feel a strong sense of belonging, we feel free to be ourselves and safe to offer different points of view and dissenting opinions. We also believe that our contributions matter and that we are ‘insiders’ – a trusted, integral part of a team, network or community.

Given the increasing diversity of teams in EY, we cannot take a sense of belonging for granted. That is why we, as leaders, colleagues and team members, need to be purposeful and deliberate in cultivating a sense of belonging for all, to harness its benefits for us as individuals, for highest-performing teams and for our organizations.

The focus over the last year has been to create awareness and take actions to strengthen a sense of belonging for everybody in EY. The guide Creating a strong sense of belonging for all (pdf) articulates the personal and business benefits of belonging and the barriers that inhibit it, along with suggestions about how to create a stronger sense of belonging for ourselves and others.

  • A DiversityInc Top 50 organization

    Last year we were inducted into DiversityInc magazine’s Top 50 Hall of Fame, and we maintained this status in 2019. The Hall of Fame honors companies that have demonstrated a longstanding and consistent commitment to diversity and inclusion. Around the world we’re proud of the many awards and accolades that spotlight EY’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.

  • Inclusive Intelligence

    At EY, we award Badges for future-focused skills including for ‘Inclusive Intelligence’ – we believe this is one of the skills EY people need to succeed in a fast-paced, interconnected world.

2. A neurodiverse world is a better working world

Including everyone, across all abilities.

When the first EY Neurodiversity Center of Excellence was launched in Philadelphia in 2016 we expected positive impacts for EY people and the EY brand. After nine months, we compared the work of the pilot team to a neurotypical one. Quality, efficiency and productivity were comparable, but there was a surprise. The neurodiverse employees excelled at innovation.

In the first month, the team had identified process improvements that cut the time for technical training in half. They learned how to automate processes far faster than the neurotypical account professionals they trained with. They then used the resulting downtime to create training videos to help others.

Three years on, the Neurodiversity Centers of Excellence have expanded to locations in Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, Philadelphia and San Jose, and we hope soon around the world. They are not only changing lives, they’re also strengthening EY: reducing costs, enhancing service quality and efficiency, and driving innovation.

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3. Moving from commitment to action on LGBT+ equality

Championing inclusion around the world.

We are proud to be a leading voice on LGBT+ inclusion, convening dialogue and championing inclusion around the world, and engaging with clients and other organizations as they also navigate the political, legal and social complexities of this topic. This year we supported new research developed with NYU’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging focused on how leading private sector organizations, including EY, are pressing for LGBT+ inclusion even in countries where discriminatory laws make it challenging to be out as an LGBT+ professional.

And to help advance social and economic inclusion for all LGBT+ people, this year seven organizations, including EY, formed the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality. This first-of-its-kind initiative will work in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for New Economy and Society to enlist CEOs to implement the United Nations (UN) LGBTI Standards.

In the US, we have had a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, designating EY as a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBT+ Equality’, every year since 2005.

4. Transforming experiences through trans-inclusion

Proud to support TDOV.

At EY, we want to be a welcoming workplace for everyone identifying on the full gender identity spectrum. In the US for example we have a program that offers employees coverage of up to US$25,000 for transition-related expenses not covered by their medical plan. We also offer a Trans & Gender Diversity Toolkit (pdf) on leading trans-inclusive practices and specific guidelines for supporting individuals through a transition process.

We’re also proud to support the International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) and use it to acknowledge the accomplishments of transgender colleagues, clients and the broader trans community worldwide. Launched in 2009, TDOV celebrates transgender people and the courage it takes to live openly and authentically.

5. Women. Fast forward

Advancing gender equality.

An important part of the EY diversity and inclusiveness agenda is related to the advancement of women. Women. Fast forward is a global platform that engages EY people, clients and communities to advance gender equality. On a global basis, gender balance is the most straightforward to measure and report. While we are proud of the progress we are making, we know we have more work to do to improve the percentage of women in leadership positions.

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6. Teaming up for gender equality

Working with  UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC).

This year we joined forces with the GICC to help ensure that gender equality is embedded in technological innovation. We developed five principles – specific improvements – that companies can adopt that will accelerate gender equality.

In addition to the principles, we also developed the GICC Action Point Assessment in co-ordination with UN Women to help businesses benchmark themselves against the GICC principles. This tool helps businesses measure their innovation and engagement rates, identify decisions to accelerate gender parity through innovation and earn a UN Women endorsement.

7. Taking disability confidence global

Promoting disability inclusion in the workplace.

The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people in the world currently live with a disability. That’s one in seven of us. Throughout EY we focus on how we, and other organizations, can continue to promote both visible and non-visible disability inclusion in the workplace.

We are making important strides in this area and are working with many enlightened organizations to share leading practices and work collaboratively on this topic. Taking disability confidence global is one example of EY’s commitment to promoting visible and non-visible disability inclusion. Launched this year, it provides practical tips on how organizations can build disability confidence.


Diverse perspectives, combined with an inclusive culture, drive better decision-making, stimulate innovation, increase organizational agility and strengthen resilience to disruption.

About this article

By EY Global

Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

Related topics Global review