Get Reworked Podcast: What It Takes to Move the Needle on DEI
Diversity efforts typically fall under HR's remit, and for good reason. But talking about people and culture will only take a company so far. To move the needle on DEI efforts, organizations need to follow the money.
In this episode of Get Reworked, Eloiza Domingo, Allstate's VP, Chief Inclusive Diversity & Equity Officer, Human Resources explains how the American insurance mainstay incorporates diversity into every facet of the organization. And it all starts with how it spends its money.
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"So I would encourage companies as they think about their diversity efforts, not to just look at the people and culture — that certainly is one thing. But where are you actually putting your money? Where are you investing your money?" said Eloiza. "How are you supporting, again, systemic bias and racism in the United States and kind of helping to reverse that in some way, by the way that you're investing and spending your money."
Highlights of the conversation include:
- How DEI has changed over the last 20 years.
- How companies can hold themselves accountable to DEI goals.
- What a "diversity identity" means.
- How companies can navigate a complicated political landscape.
- How Allstate uses data to ensure its accountability.
Plus, host Siobhan Fagan talks with Eloiza about the part employee resource groups play in the company and why Allstate rebranded them. Listen in for more.
Have a suggestion, comment or topic for a future episode? Send it to [email protected].
- Eloiza's Allstate profile
- Allstate Inclusive Diversity & Equity
- Eloiza's written testimony for Congress
Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity
Eloiza Domingo: Regardless of where you are in the diversity journey, figure out what your diversity identity is. That makes it a little bit easier when, 'you know what' hits the fan.
Siobhan Fagan: That voice you just heard is Eloiza Domingo. Today we wanted to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion. It's a topic that we have touched on in many conversations on the Get Reworked podcast and on the site. But we wanted to really spend some time digging into it and seeing how one organization specifically is turning their ideas into actions.
Before Allstate where she is currently the chief inclusive diversity and equity officer. She was a leader at Astellas Pharma, she was a leader at John Hopkins Medicine, and she's been recognized as the 2022 top chief diversity officer by the National Diversity Awards, and she's one of HR digests, most influential DEI officers of 2022.
I could go on about all of the awards and recognitions that Louisa has received. But I think instead I'm going to bring her on. Let's Get Reworked.
Siobhan: Welcome to the podcast. Eloiza.
Eloiza: Thank you so much. Great to be here.
Siobhan: So you came here today, I originally heard about you, when you moved to Allstate, where you are the vice president of HR and chief inclusive diversity and equity officer. But you've been in this field for over 20 years. So I'm hoping that you can just kind of lay the groundwork and compare the state of diversity, equity and inclusion now to when you started.
Eloiza: I've been really honored, as you mentioned to be in this field for over two decades. I think one thing that has really changed over that time, is the integration of this work into kind of everyday conversation.
You know, when I first started this work, it was very much a push, or even a pull to get people to understand it, to get people to really talk about it. I certainly was the person in the room as the director of diversity, or chief diversity officer, when topics like this came up, you just saw all the heads swivel, right? Because everybody knew Eloiza was gonna say something, right?
But over time, what I've seen is that that expectation that Eloiza is going to talk about it has dissipated, and other leaders are now saying, oh, you know, I have something to say, or I have an opinion on that. Or we have more and more allies in the room that are talking about this, integrating it into their behaviors, daily operations, they understand the metrics of diversity, inclusion and equity. So it's a much more integrated system.
I wish I could say that everything is like that, you know, there are still some things that I've been talking about for 20 years, or we've been talking about for 20 years, that still shows up. So we've still got a lot of improvements, but certainly I've come a long way.
How You Respond to Manmade Disasters, to all Disasters, Matters
Siobhan: Allstate has offices throughout the country, it is in every state, I believe it's over 9,000 offices total. And you are coming in at a time where this conversation is very much top of mind, but not necessarily always positively.
So we're, you're tasked with creating a multi-year strategy for Allstate for its efforts in this area. And you're doing it in the context where some states are actively trying to outlaw that. So we can look at Florida with it Stop Woke Act, there are about 12 different states that are trying to pass the Don't Say Gay bill.
So how how do you navigate those state specific laws, while still staying true to your vision?
Eloiza: First of all, working really closely with our government relations team and understanding how federal laws as well as state laws, regulations, you know, kind of varying opinions across the states, and then how that impacts federally that's something that we stay close to, I think that is one thing that over the course of my time at Allstate, we've really galvanized that relationship between federal affairs and inclusive diversity and equity. So that as you mentioned, I'm kind of keeping in front of that as opposed to reacting. So that's another piece.
In general, what we really try to do at Allstate is make sure to establish an understanding of what our culture is, we have our shared purpose, and IDE inclusive diversity and equity is one of the three pillars of our shared purpose. And so it's almost like regardless of how the wind is blowing outside of the buildings of the walls of Allstate, we stay pretty clear that we will value IDE, we will integrate it into the work that we do.
But at the same time, you know, to your point of understanding how those environmental factors may be impacting a couple of things, how our consumers are looking at us and how we're making decisions based on some of those laws are changing environmental aspects, how our potential employees are looking at the way that we are, you know, responding to what's called manmade disasters, right? So things like, how do you respond to all of those laws that you mentioned earlier, Black Lives Matter movement, anti-Asian harassment or violence. You know, consumers these days are much more engaged, intelligent and aware, and are making decisions about which companies, they're going to align to which products they're going to purchase, you know, based on those things.
And so staying aware and monitoring vigilantly and making sure that we, of course, stay within our identity of IDE, but at the same time, challenge ourselves to stay relevant through all of the social issues that are happening.
Siobhan: I love that you're terming, the manmade disasters, I think that that is very accurate. And I love that you're pulling in that relationship between the internal and the external, that these operations aren't just happening for the good of the business, although clearly they are. It's good for the business bottom line as well, which I think is something that people are finally recognizing.
So when you look at your experiences and your ability to focus, and to stay true to this Allstate course and navigate these links, do you have any advice that you would share with other organizations that are potentially navigating the same challenges?
Eloiza: Yeah, you know, the one thing I always tell organizations when they ask these questions is, but you know, regardless of where you are, in the diversity journey, figure out what your diversity identity is. And that makes it a little bit easier when, 'you know what' hits the fan. And it always does.
Again, as I mentioned, manmade disasters are real, social issues are occurring at a very, very rapid pace. So the only way that an organization can be intelligent about it is to know how they would respond in that instance. One thing I always say is my ex-husband and I, we co-parent our kiddos, and for a long time, we've always had the same rule around what time the kids need to go to bed. And you know, you've got you've got mutiny, right? We've got four boys who say, "Oh, my gosh, that's too early," or "that's not fair," or you know, whatever. But why do we do that? Because for us, that helps the kids to stay healthy and get enough sleep and be ready for school and nobody's grouchy. And sure again, in certain instances, you ebb and flow. But overall, you have that rule, it's the same thing for a company around their ID diversity.
No matter what mutiny you have, you know, no matter what happens socially or externally, you kind of have a general rubric around how you might respond, or whether you would respond at all. And then after that, what I would recommend that is create simulation based situations, right. So oftentimes, companies only have about 48 hours to respond to a manmade disaster or to an external issue. And then after that, your window closes, and your risk increases, a variety of risk increases. So again, practicing those simulations, figuring out how your company would actually respond, how your communication trail is effective or not effective, also helps to be prepared.
Choose Your Diversity Identity and Be Accountable for It
Siobhan: You're reminding me of my father, when I was younger, he was very worried because we had a three-story house. And so he had us practice in case there was a fire and we had these metal ladders that we put out the window, and you just totally brought me back there. Absolutely working through these emergency situations before they actually occur.
Eloiza, you mentioned diversity identity, and I was hoping that you could explain exactly what you mean by that. And what that means in the context of your work at Allstate, how do you define it there?
Eloiza: The example I typically use is Procter & Gamble and then I'll bring it back to Allstate. Procter & Gamble a long time ago kind of led the way for the diversity field in doing this. Unapologetically, they looked at their brands, they looked at the communities in which they live, work and serve. And they said, We are unapologetically going to commit ourselves to black lives, black beauty, black hair, black skin, black violence within the police interactions, unapologetically unapologetically, right? They're Procter & Gamble, they make Tide, you know, they make Dove. So a lot of us in the diversity field were like, What are you doing, but unapologetically, they chose that as a primary identity for their company.
So they started creating these commercials, which, by the way, are Emmy award winning commercials now, they started really doing this black beauty campaign, right, within primarily within dove. They started doing all these things with tide and really thinking about how they're supporting, socioeconomically challenged and primarily black communities, right. So everything became very clear about how they were supposed to operate, how they were going to respond. And so they didn't hesitate when things did happen. It was like yep, you know, we're dedicated to this, Target does this too. Target chose a long time ago to represent multicultural families and particularly kiddos with disabilities, physical disabilities. So they put kiddos in wheelchairs in all of their ads, or they put kids with various disabilities and put their T-shirts on them, right? Unapologetically, no matter what, they do that, and that allows them to fluidly and efficiently make business decisions and unapologetically stand up for what they believe in, and what their identity is in, right. It might be LGBTQ, it might be Black, it might be Hispanic, it might be Asian, it might be whatever, but it might be veteran, right? USAA, the insurance company, they primarily work with military families and veterans. That's it, right.
And that's what I'm talking about when I say identity, because what that creates is any efficiency and decision-making and an efficiency and clarity in your business practices. It doesn't mean that you're not going to do other things, it just creates an ability in the world that we live in to respond to know where your money is going to go to know where your time and efforts and labor is going to go. It creates a level of business efficiency.
Certainly it also, at Allstate, what you also look at, we are a mass market company, it's a little bit tougher on us to figure out where do you go so that you don't create any type of segregation or oppression or you know, saying, oh, my gosh, you're supporting this community and not this community? So you want to look at where are you regionally? Where do your products go? Who are the individuals that are actually taking part in your products? What communities can you support and make a change? And so that's what I'm talking about when I say identity, and making some choices for your business.
Siobhan: So can you talk a little bit about how accountability works in these efforts? I'm thinking you gave the example of the Dove commercials, and I'm thinking about how that seems genuine. Yet at the same time, it seems like sometimes some organizations maybe were being performative in their allyship or in their diversity efforts. And I'm just wondering, where does accountability fit in? And can you give any examples of that?
Eloiza: Yeah, so accountability is really critical to your point. So on the concept alone, as you noted, the recommendation is for any company, when they're choosing their their diversity identity to be very clear about exactly like you said, you want to be very careful about being performative, right? There's a lot of things that you can say, oh, this is the right thing to do, or this is the just thing to do. But if you say for example, we really support African American communities, but yet you have no black people on your board. The number of Black and African American leadership from your director and above is miniscule in comparison to either the white population or other populations, that creates that risk for performativeness.
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So the accountability piece is, at least for Allstate, and for other companies who do this well, is to kind of do an overall inventory before you create your identity. And the example that I will use is our talent scorecard. So at Allstate, we look at our diversity scorecards every month. And in the same way that we look at our checkbook. You know, how much money went out how much money came in? How much money do we make? How much money did we lose? It's the same thing about that we look at our diversity scorecards and say, okay, so how many people of color that we promote this year? And where are they? How many women? Did we hire this year? In into what positions? What is our attrition level? What is our engagement numbers? How much did our resource groups did they go up or down and membership? And how did the environmental aspects you know, kind of impact those things.
And then we have real discussions. Those are also embedded in our what we call OTAs, organizational talent advisors, other organizations call them business partners, HR business partners, though they have joint accountability for those scorecards, and then all of the direct reports to our president, CEO and chairman of the board, they also have direct accountability for those numbers. And again, every month, we're looking at, that every month, we're saying so you know, what happened with your Representation of Black individuals or Hispanic individuals that went down by a certain percentage, what happened? And those are real conversations.
And then again, as you noted, then it trickles into well, we have these huge campaigns, for example, that may be about a certain type of community. And are we then being performative because we're not promoting as much as we thought we were. So that's kind of how it all lives, in that ecosystem of conversation, but then really looking at your data on a regular basis. And not just that, but actually creating behavior and system changes based on your data is where the accountability comes into play.
Words Have Power: Employee Impact Groups vs. Employee Resource Groups
Siobhan: I want to talk about another element that I know plays a role in your efforts at Allstate, and that is employee resource groups. Can you talk about how they fit into the overall picture of your efforts?
Eloiza: Absolutely. So we had Allstate, we call them employee impact groups. They are EIGs. We changed the name from resource groups to impact groups and we find that our employees are not just resources to one another to the company, we use the word impact because we are actually pushing them to look at more metric modeling to demonstrate their impact through a variety of ways not just as a resource to each other to the company.
So this past year, we allocated about 48% of our total diversity spend, just to our resource groups, we have 11 of them right now. And they are outstanding. So there is a critical commitment to financially supporting what it is that they do. We rebranded our EIGs that just this past year, to ensure that they each have one business objective, one career objective, and then one community objective.
So for example, our Hispanic EIG, they are working to translate all of the Allstate app. So you know, if you're an Allstate customer, you have an app that you can go on and you can check, you know, your claims, or you can report claims are looking at your account, our Hispanic EIG is working with our tech teams to make sure that all of that material can be translated into Spanish that our tech is translation enabled, and is also appropriate for the certain literacy levels of our Spanish speaking customers. So that's their business objective.
Their career objective is to promote more Hispanics over the course of the next three years, in director positions and above. And then their community, you know, they have a community project that they work on, that's their signature project every single year, and working with a variety of other Hispanic professionals in the Chicagoland area, and supporting their growth and leadership as well.
So every EIG has to have that. And that shift has allowed them to be more of a business integrated part of Allstate as opposed to what they used to be kind of food, flight and fun type of groups.
Siobhan: I love that you reframed them. And it's just a constant reminder of the language that we become used to in terms of employee resource groups. And the difference between resource and impact is powerful.
If you were to sum up any kind of big learnings that you've had in your short tenure at Allstate, or even from previous roles, what kind of lessons could other companies learn who are potentially earlier on in their efforts?
Eloiza: You know, one thing I love about Allstate when I came over to Allstate, you know, I wasn't looking to leave my former company, I was at Astella's Pharmaceuticals, and I still love that company, loved the culture, love the people, so I wasn't looking to leave. And when Allstate called me, they said, we really want to embed diversity into everything that we do. And one thing that I've learned about that is diversity in companies, those mostly born in human resources, so we talk a lot about people and culture, which is still a critical component, right? But companies are really not going to be able to move the needle enough, unless they really look at how they're spending their money.
So the three primary pieces at Allstate that I'm responsible for around diversity is our representation, of course of diverse individuals, our supplier diversity spend, so we've actually tripled our annual spend with diverse suppliers. Last year, we actually spent over $308 million with diverse suppliers in comparison to $235 million the year before. So that's a huge jump.
The third piece that I'm also primarily responsible for in terms of my scope is diversity in our investment portfolio. So how is it that we're actually supporting minority women and veteran banking enterprises, and you know, supporting what is real, the wealth gap in America.
So I would encourage companies as they think about their diversity efforts, not to just look at the people and culture that certainly is one thing. But where are you actually putting your money? Where are you investing your money? How are you supporting, again, systemic bias and racism over in the United States and kind of helping to reverse that in some way, by the way that you're investing and spending your money. That's really how I think the needle is going to shift not just for companies, but also for the United States.
The Younger Generation Is a Voice of Hope in the DEI Conversation
Siobhan: So Eloiza, we're coming up on time. And I think it's always nice to sort of end on a hopeful note. So I was hoping that you would be able to share what gives you the most hope when you look at the state of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging today.
Eloiza: So I have four boys, as I mentioned earlier, and as cliche as it sounds, I think that the way that our young people are talking about diversity, in my opinion, is a direct result of how companies are handling this. As we are, you know, handling the way that we spend our money that we invest our money that we do our commercials differently. We have different spokespeople. We have a variety of diversity in our products, access to our products, the way that websites are created, the way that they can be translated. All that is a business decision, right?
All of those things then trickle down to the way that the next generation looks at each other, and looks at business and also holds us accountable ourselves, the way that our youth is spending their money, they're investing, they're buying products from companies that support these types of diverse work environments, and more open and transparent conversations around diversity.
So to me, that's like super hopeful, you know, to have these conversations with my four boys. And even though by virtue of me being their mom, they really can't get away from it. But at the same time, they have very natural conversations about this, because that's the world that they're starting to live in. And to me, that means that we're making a difference. And that means that overall, these you know, 22 years that I've been in the work, while things are still, a lot of it is still the same. That is something that's really, really different. And again, really hopeful for the next generation that's going to continue to do this work or continue to, you know, push for the environments that we're helping to build right now.
Siobhan: It's great, because we started this conversation talking about how the conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion had sort of trickled out where it wasn't just you having to lead them, but everybody taking part of it. And now we're seeing this effect on the younger generation. So that is really a perfect note to end on. Thank you so much, Eloiza.
Siobhan: So if our audience wants to find out a little bit more about you, your efforts online, where would be the best place for them to find you?
Eloiza: Absolutely. I would just look on allstate.com. And, you know, look at our diversity information there. We have a lot in our sustainability efforts as well, and learn more about all the great things that we're doing, and certainly can reach out to me through that website as well. I would welcome it.
Siobhan: Awesome. Well, thank you again for taking the time to talk to us today Eloiza.
Eloiza: Sure. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.
Siobhan: If you have a suggestion or a topic for a future conversation, I'm all ears. Please drop me a line at [email protected]. Additionally, if you liked what you heard, post a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you may be listening. Please share Get Reworked with anyone you think might benefit from these types of conversations. Find us at reworked.co. And finally, follow us at Get Reworked on Twitter as well. Thank you again for exploring the revolution of work with me, and I'll see you next time.