Increasing diversity in a workplace through a well-formulated plan is a journey, not a destination, says Chris Rowland, who, as global diversity officer at ManpowerGroup Inc., leads the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy across 80 countries and territories.
Among the initiatives he oversees is conscious inclusion, a concept that encourages thinking intentionally with diversity at top of mind. He also helps build a global strategy working with business and HR leaders and has kicked off a business resource group.
He works on a community level as well, having served on a task force put together by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce in 2018 after a survey found that racial disparity was a top liability of the Milwaukee area. Out of the task force’s work came a pledge on how the region and business community could help address the issue.
Rowland arrived at ManpowerGroup in 2007 as a recruiter, and he fell in love with the concept of helping people find work. “You get a firsthand look of what the dignity of work does for individuals,” Rowland says. Currently, he is closely watching the long-term impact of Covid-19 on diversity and what its effects will be.
The economic downturn is making it difficult for many companies, particularly small and midsize firms; on the other hand, companies are rethinking the way work gets done, and more virtual work may mean more opportunities. “It will really be a new normal for all of us,” he says.