Capco's Dee McDougal on diversity, equity & inclusion

31 March 2021 5 min. read
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Over the last year, diversity and inclusion has grown to become one of the most important items on the corporate agenda. Capco’s US head of diversity, equity, and inclusion Dee McDougal explains the first steps companies can take to kick off their own diversity transformations.

International consultancy Capco has been going through a period of major transition in recent months. Having entered into a string of new business partnerships, the firm was acquired by Wipro in early 2021. Internally, however, the firm has also spent the last year working to transform its internal culture. According to McDougal, 2020 saw many important conversations on systemic racism and inequality finally come to the fore. Speaking to Consulting Magazine, she explained that Capco is looking to lead by example, with a number of efforts around these and other key initiatives.

“Last year’s protests were a social catalyst for corporate change,” McDougal stated. “Diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and access became topics of C-Suite conversation in ways that we haven’t seen before. Public statements on race from leaders across industry and commerce alongside many private, internal conversations served to legitimize and amplify the voices of the many individuals who wanted to share their experiences.”Capco's Dee McDougal on diversity, equity & inclusionAccording to McDougal, in 2020 Capco made six public commitments around hiring, culture, and employee experience – something which she is looking to enhance in her new role by supporting the firm’s recruiting, retention and development efforts. Having taken up her job as Capco’s US diversity head in January 2021, she is now looking to help Capco expand its network of partner organizations to access diverse talent, while collaborating with learning and development to increase programming on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) competencies and development opportunities.

“Capco has a strong culture of inclusion, built on our Be Yourself at Work (BYAW) movement that champions respect and integrity, fueled by a network of employee-led affinity groups. I look forward to working with group leaders to leverage the work that is being done to deliver still more impact,” she added.

With interest in DEI programs and their visibility having “skyrocketed,” many companies are now leaning into the changes, looking to provide space for curiosity and experience-sharing, as well as DEI resources and training. When asked how companies looking to kick off their own DEI drives might best start, McDougal warned that many organizations fall into the trap of obsessing over statistics – and neglecting other equally important dimensions as a result.

McDougal suggested, “To create systemic and sustained change, companies must also examine their cultures and understand the experience of those from under-represented groups. This has been Capco’s own approach, committing to new hiring targets and looking to accelerate culture change through our affinity groups and refreshed training programs. Companies in the US often prioritize DEI efforts on race, ethnicity, and gender, which leaves little room to focus on different life experiences and points of view. There is more to be done across all dimensions of diversity.”

First steps

Instead, organizations need to learn to walk before they can run, and need to appreciate that there “are no quick fixes” when it comes to DEI. Ultimately, on a macro level, it comes down to culture change, which is something that can only be successfully achieved through changes in individual behavior.

“Public commitments increase visibility and accountability, and can galvanize employee buy-in and support,” said McDougal, as she highlighted the best places to start. “Companies need to ensure alignment between public statements and employee sentiment. At Capco, the six pillars of our public commitment focus on strengthening our culture of inclusion and increasing representation of women and people of color from Associates to Leaders. Employees are excited about our commitments and feel a sense of ownership in helping the firm reach our goals.”

At the same time, organizations need to assess diversity data to ensure that they can walk the talk after publicizing their commitments. Initially, this is most important to deploy on an HR level, analyzing the data around applicants, hires, and separations, weighing up who gets promoted, and who is identified as high potential, before digging deeper into performance management and compensation information to identify any disparities.

While there might not be a “quick fix,” ultimately McDougal insists that there is a business case for DEI transformations, as well as an ethical one. On top of the mounting body of evidence that shows diversity drives improved business performance, Capco has seen first-hand how this happens.

McDougal concluded, “As consultants, we solve problems for our clients. Bringing a diverse team to the table representing different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences — allows us to think more broadly and creatively, and to develop better solutions for our clients. We also know that inclusion and belonging are what drive employee engagement and retention. When employees feel that they are not welcome or valued, engagement plummets, and they no longer contribute to the best of their abilities… [and] there are also costs associated with a lack of diversity, ranging from not meeting clients’ expectations to human capital expenses.”