Why diversity isn’t enough: A true inclusion focus


Going beyond attracting diverse talent – to retaining, developing and integrating that talent – is crucial.

February 17, 2023


It’s no secret that the diversity of a company is important to its employees and to the overall success of the business. A Glassdoor survey revealed that as many as two-thirds of job applicants seriously consider a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts when making decisions about a job.

Traditionally, many companies, including Roche, started with a focus on gender diversity. As a global organization, gender diversity was an area of focus that translated across the world and was an area where we needed to make progress. This led us to start our Women’s Leadership Initiative, which focused on increasing the representation of women in leadership roles.

When we were just starting out, we educated employees about why diversity was so important and we coached leaders on the benefits of hiring people who look and think differently than us. We also inspired women to pursue their own definitions of career success. We were able to significantly increase the representation of women in senior leadership roles within three years and build a strong pipeline of future talent.

As Roche continues adjusting its diversity and inclusion efforts to better meet employee needs, it’s clear that what is critical to any diversity and inclusion initiative is true inclusion. A sense of belonging. We must all continue to build our focus beyond attracting diverse talent to retaining, developing and integrating that talent.

In this complex and challenging societal and economic climate, it’s more important than ever to make employees feel psychologically safe and included at work. At the same time, monitoring the success of inclusion efforts is of paramount importance. Your company needs to know where it stands – and where it’s going – with diversity and inclusion efforts. Business leaders should employ any such initiative with a combination of open dialogue and measurement, such as:

  • Scheduling specific opportunities for senior leaders and employees to sit down and discuss inclusion topics, issues and solutions in an open and transparent way
  • Understanding the unique challenges of diverse employee groups and making changes to address issues that prevent them from thriving

Sharing with employees how the company is tracking against its own purpose demonstrates how seriously your organization takes its diversity and inclusion efforts and creates accountability.

When you have an inclusive environment and create a sense of belonging for all people, you see your employees’ confidence soar. Our company gets the best of them when they get the best of Roche. Ultimately, that impacts business results and our culture.

If you’re interested in pursuing a D&I strategy at your company, here is some advice: Don’t get overwhelmed. Just get started. First, I’d encourage you to look around at the makeup of your organization and assess how well you assess how your efforts are meeting measurable objectives. If you decide that this area needs work, invest in training and enlist an expert to help facilitate discussions that will make people more comfortable. The fact that people can discuss sensitive topics in a safe environment helps us speak more freely with one another. After you’ve invested in education, let the rest happen organically.

Continuing to thrive as a company, and as individuals, depends on our ability to adapt and grow. Ensuring employees feel safe and included is foundational to a company’s innovative spirit and overall success.


Candy Gee serves as the chief diversity officer for Roche Diagnostics North America. She has over 25 years of experience in diversity and inclusion, and in her current role, she is responsible for providing thought leadership on diversity, inclusion and belonging across the organization.