So, Why Does Xerox Need a Diversity Officer?

That’s the questions the company’s Chief Diversity Officer, Phil Harlow was asked recently by Celeste Headlee, host of NPR’s The Takeaway.  You can find that interview here. The Takeaway

I’ve been a consultant to Xerox for several years, and as I listened to Phil explain not his role, but Xerox’s philosophy, I couldn’t help but be proud of what Xerox has accomplished as a pioneering company that not only checks off the boxes on diverse hiring (that’s the easy part), but how the company has ingrained diversity in its culture.  I listened to others during the interview, including Google’s Marissa Mayer, talk about statistics and quotas, but Phil reminded us that diversity should actually be a business imperative.  Xerox believes that the simple concept of diversity of thought will foster creativity and innovation and long term success; a big deal for technology companies, eh?  He said, “We don’t want people in an environment that come from the same place with the same kind of thinking.”  Xerox has been working at it for over 40 years, and because of that, it’s not even a big issue that the company is one of the most diverse in the world.  The statistics speak for themselves.

Not only did the company appoint one of the first female CEOs in Anne Mulcahy in 2000, but in July of this year, it made history with the first Fortune 500 female-to-female CEO hand-off to the first African American CEO, Ursula Burns.  All those “firsts” for everyone else, well, it was just another day at the Xerox office.  In fact, Ursula was blown away by all the attention.  Ursula often speaks of how diversity has been stitched into the fabric of Xerox for a very long time now.   It’s part of what distinguishes Xerox from everyone else.

So, that’s why companies need a Chief Diversity Officer.  It’s just good business.

Karen Arena, public relations consultant for Xerox

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One Comment

  1. celina benavidez February 27, 2012 - Reply

    My name is Celina Benavidez and I own Celina Inc. a small minoriy/women owned business in Denver Colorado. I have been contracted with ACS which is now Xeorx to operate the Smart Card Customer Service Center for RTD in Denver Colorado.
    I would very much like to to learn more about the Diversity program for XEROX since I believe at Celina Inc. we are XEROX partners in creating Diversity in business.

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