I asked the world’s top CEOs if they’re taking diversity seriously. Here’s why their answers could change your life.


A century ago, the concept of the modern corporation was born. Today, we see an alignment of CEOs on global unity, new models of capitalism, and corporate cultures that celebrate people.

In the 1920s, Alfred Sloan at General Motors created the concept of the modern corporation. In the 1950s Peter Drucker codified management. In the 1980s, Japanese business culture brought in the concepts of quality and teamwork. In the early 2000s, we entered the fourth phase: the integration of purpose and profit.

Today, purpose-driven companies, with DEI at their heart, are on the path to both truly unleash the potential of individuals and help enterprises become global societal leaders. This transformation will usher in a new, collaborative world.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing the CEOs of Accenture, IBM, Intel, L’Oréal, Northrup Grumman, PepsiCo, Walgreens, Verizon, and Zoetis for the Women Business Collaborative’s annual summit. What emerged are the four keys to DEI.

Start with gender equity

DEI is about fairness and opportunity for everyone to bring their whole self to work, and to collaborate towards a higher purpose.

Roz Brewer, the CEO of the Walgreens Boots Alliance shared critical fundamentals, “Commitment and accountability are key to achieving gender equity. Through Walgreens Boots Alliance’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the implementation of initiatives such as our leadership accountability model, we have and will continue to increase the number of women in leadership positions.”

One company with a history of focus on gender equity is IBM. Arvind Krishna, CEO outlined the IBM path, “Building an inclusive workplace is a never-ending journey. IBM has conducted a pay equity analysis since the 1970s to ensure that all IBMers receive equal pay for equal work. Recently, we added a diversity modifier to our annual incentive program to reinforce senior management’s focus on improving diversity in our workforce.”

It’s clear one of the areas where women’s representation has historically been low is in STEM. Kathy Warden, the CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., says, “As a technology company, we are focused on attracting more women into STEM careers and creating pathways for people to come into the field later in life. This includes opening doors to careers previously limited to those with STEM education, and also investing in programs that inspire young women to find the fun and belonging possible in a STEM career.”

Build accountability throughout

Companies like Verizon are creating accountability through tracking and having third parties audit their progress. Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon Communications, says, “Our Diversity & Inclusion Strategy extends throughout our entire organization. Because effective leadership is not based on what you say but what you do, we constantly track our effectiveness and have appointed an outside auditor to tell us objectively how we are doing and how we can improve.”

To read this article in its entirety at Fortune.com, click here.