Diversity and Inclusion

What the most successful diversity programs in the workplace have in common

Here are 5 examples of inspiring and actionable workplace diversity programs from companies in different industries.

Nick Saraev

Published on 

December 2, 2022

Updated on 

Time to Read

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Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have increased in popularity over the last few years, as many companies have taken realized the importance of supporting a diverse workforce at every level.

In 2021, about 8 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were women, which adds up to 41 percent, the highest it has ever been. Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement as women only earn about 83 percent of what men do, and minorities are even more likely to experience a pay gap.

While the focus is often on gender diversity, companies are also working hard to increase racial and ethnic diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion.

What are diversity programs?

From mentorship programs to employee resource groups, diversity programs are initiatives implemented by organizations to promote diversity and inclusion within the company.

As the workforce continues to become more diverse, companies must implement various diversity programs to ensure that all employees feel comfortable, included, and represented, regardless of sexual orientation, heritage, age, or background.

While each DEI program may look different, they all share the same goal of making the workplace more inclusive for everyone. Aside from fostering a more positive work environment, these programs aim to:

  • Increase awareness of diversity and inclusion issues
  • Boost employee and company productivity
  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Enhance creativity and innovation
  • Improve the company’s reputation
  • Transform the company culture

What are the principles of a diverse and inclusive workplace?

Many initiatives are often categorized under diversity and inclusion, but these terms should not be used interchangeably.

Diversity is all about representing various social or cultural groups and individual differences at work, while inclusion is about making diversity a part of the workplace where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported.

To create such a workplace, organizations should adhere to the following principles:

  • Respect: Respect comes down to acknowledging and valuing the differences that make each person unique, which includes avoiding making assumptions about someone based on their appearance, background, or beliefs. When employees feel respected, they are more likely to trust their colleagues and be open to different perspectives.
  • Belonging: As humans, we all have a natural need to belong. Creating a sense of belonging can be as simple as ensuring that everyone feels like they are part of the team and their voices are heard. When people feel like they belong at work, they are more likely to be engaged and invested in their job.
  • Fair Progression: When it comes to progression and opportunities, employees should be judged based on their skills, qualifications, and performance – not their gender, race, or other characteristics. By providing fair progression opportunities for all employees, companies can ensure that everyone has an equal chance of reaching their full potential.
  • Empowerment: Employees need to have a certain degree of control over their work to feel included and respected. Empowerment could be in the form of giving employees the opportunity to openly share their ideas, providing resources and support when needed, and delegating tasks based on ability rather than seniority.

What companies have the best diversity programs?

Making a commitment to workplace diversity is one thing, but actually following through with effective diversity and inclusion programs is another. Here are a few examples of organizations with exemplary DEI programs:

Airbnb Black@ ERG

Description of diversity program

As one of the 19 employee resource groups (ERGs) at Airbnb, Black@ aims to connect, support, and empower Black employees and allies within the company. This ERG also works to increase representation of Black people in the company and to partner with other organizations to support the Black community.


  • They launched an ERG Starter Kit designed to help increase the impact of Black employee resource groups in the tech community.
  • Black representation increased from 4.4% in 2019 to 5.8% in 2022.

Avison Young Women’s Network ERG

Description of diversity program
Among its first employee resource group, Women's Network focuses on the professional development of its female employees, specifically for leadership roles. The organization implemented mentoring programs to connect and support members of the Women’s Network with senior employees.


  • Avison Young is among the ten companies that received the GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum’s Diversity Champion award in 2021.
  • The company’s corporate leadership is now 40% women, and 25% of its board are women.

King’s Kicking Glass mentoring program

Description of diversity program

The Kicking Glass mentoring program led by the Women@King ERG aims to provide women and non-binary employees confidence and empowerment to succeed in their roles. These employees receive training and development through one-on-one mentoring with executives and peer training.


  • The program's success has led to plans for the organization to expand mentoring opportunities across all its ERGs globally.
  • King Games increased its women hires from 34% in 2018 to 40% in 2019.

Sodexo’s Diversity LGBTQ+ ERG

Description of diversity program

Sodexo takes pride in its vast Global Pride Network, composed of 18 LGBTQ+ ERGs worldwide. This network celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion based on respect and understanding to provide equal opportunities for all employees.


  • Sodexo earned the prestigious title of “Advocate” in the 2022 Workplace Pride Global Benchmark survey.
  • In the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the company was designated as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”

The Forum’s mentoring program

Description of diversity program

As a Canadian-based non-profit, The Forum aims to “help women entrepreneurs access the resources & community they need to thrive in business.” Aside from providing a collaborative community and educational programs, they offer mentoring programs to further support women in business.


  • Since its founding, the company has provided mentoring programs to over 2000 entrepreneurs.
  • Within less than a year of using Together’s mentorship platform, their mentoring program has grown four times its initial size.

Common themes among successful diversity programs in the workplace

For a DEI program to be successful, the diversity and inclusion plan must be tailored to the specific needs of the company. However, there are some common themes among successful programs that all companies can learn from.


Many successful programs incorporate best-practice mentoring programs to pair employees with experienced mentors who can help them navigate the workplace and provide guidance on their career development.

Employee resource groups

ERGs are one of the best ways to support employees of underrepresented groups and create a sense of community within the company. They also provide an outlet for employees to share their experiences and offer suggestions on how the company can improve its diversity initiatives.

Open and empathetic dialogue

A key component of any successful diversity program is open and honest communication. This includes everything from training employees on how to have difficult conversations about race and gender to encouraging employees to provide feedback on the program itself.

Strong policies 

A company’s policies play a significant role in shaping its culture. From anti-discrimination policies to parental leave policies that support working parents, companies must have a solid foundation in place to protect employees and create a more inclusive environment for everyone.


Any company must be flexible when implementing its diversity programs. Being willing to make changes based on employee feedback shows that the company is truly committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Strengthen diversity with mentorship

Today, many organizations are strengthening their DEI initiatives by introducing employee resource groups, training, robust company policies, and mentoring programs for underrepresented groups.

In a nutshell, a diverse and inclusive workplace embraces differences, provides equal opportunities for all employees, and fosters a sense of belonging for everyone. 

A diversity mentorship program is one of the most effective ways to support employees from all backgrounds. It can be particularly beneficial for employees from underrepresented groups who may not have the same networks or access to mentors as their colleagues.

Curious about how your company can get started with a diversity mentorship program? Learn more by exploring Together’s mentoring platform. Try it here for free!

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