Inclusive Employer 2023-2024: John Deere
John Deere has participated in the Inclusive Employer Index each year since 2021, and for the third year in a row has made DCA’s list of Inclusive Employers. In this case study, John Deere shares exciting insights, including how they began their D&I work, how they involve employees at all levels and how organisations can help create a more inclusive Australia.
We commenced our DEI journey in Australia & New Zealand in 2019 with a focus on leadership education and established a DEI Council primarily made up of our Executive Leadership Team. Leaders were taken on the journey to understand what DEI is and the business case for it. We knew without leadership buy-in and alignment, DEI would continue to be another ‘HR initiative’ with a focus on compliance and programs rather than becoming an integrated part of our DNA.
Our education and programs followed the Deloitte Diversity and Inclusion Model, recognising that you need to take the business on a journey and adjust as the business matures in this space. We would recommend this approach to other organisations and would take the same approach again if we were starting out.
Our DEI Council meets regularly to review our business values, strategy, and objectives to identify how our DEI efforts can support these. Once we started participating in the DCA Inclusive Employer Index assessments, the DEI Council was also able to use the data & insights received from the reports to focus our efforts on areas we could have the most impact.
There are two key achievements that are worth noting in relation to building inclusion in our workplace. Both of these initiatives were focused on middle managers’ ability to create an inclusive workplace culture:
1. Manager-Led Employee Education Program:
Managers were partnered up to facilitate a DEI Discussion Group with a diverse group of employees from around the business – people they wouldn’t ordinarily work with on a day-to-day basis. These discussions happened once per quarter with topics based on Micro-Learnings that were assigned to all. The managers facilitated the discussions to encourage storytelling and engaging in conversations around a variety of diversity, equity and inclusion topics. This was an exceptionally successful program in opening the eyes of many employees.
2. Inclusive Leadership Development Program for all managers & supervisors:
Through the Inclusive Employer Index report, we identified that employees who had a manager they deemed to be inclusive, had a much more positive overall experience of inclusion within the organisation. This program was developed to increase the Inclusive Leadership skills for all managers with two facets:
- Inclusive Leadership Behaviours were identified for all leaders to demonstrate as part of their annual performance expectations.
- Groups of managers were established as part of a ‘Leaders Teaching Leaders’ style program where the managers were given real examples of DEI questions/concerns and were required to provide guidance on how a manager should respond to those questions within an Inclusive Leadership framework. This resulted in all managers having the tools and resources to respond to some difficult DEI questions/concerns from not just their own perspective, but the perspective of others as well.
Aside from education, efforts that have made a big impact for us are a regular cadence of employee–driven DEI learning sessions or celebrations. All employees are encouraged and empowered to suggest or facilitate a DEI learning session or celebration. These are things like celebrating Diwali, Podcast Club, celebrating World Inclusion Day and R U OK Day, sharing personal experiences of parental leave and the creation of a ‘Be Your Unique Self’ shirt for all employees.
We have great engagement from employees in driving these initiatives. This has resulted in an increase in DEI events and an understanding that all employees are responsible for creating an inclusive workplace culture. The company provides the framework and the guidance for the employees to share their story with others or celebrate their unique cultures with their colleagues.
Our efforts have benefited our organisation through:
- Enhanced innovation and creativity: an inclusive environment encourages open dialogue and collaboration.
- Improved problem-solving: with diverse teams discussing and addressing challenges, we benefit from a broader range of insights and approaches.
- Organisational learning and growth: by encouraging cross-cultural interactions and providing diversity training programs, we foster an environment of mutual respect, empathy, and understanding.
Employee reactions to our efforts building an inclusive workplace have been varied but are mostly very positive and complimentary of the efforts. This can be a polarising topic for some, which is why education upfront is critical to the success of any efforts.
As an organisation, we play a crucial role in setting an example and demonstrating the importance of inclusion. By fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, we showcase the positive outcomes that result from valuing and respecting individuals from all backgrounds. Inclusive workplaces challenge biased attitudes, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices.
By promoting awareness, education, and respectful dialogue, we create an environment that encourages critical thinking and self-reflection. Inclusivity within our organisation can inspire individuals to embrace diversity and challenge their own biases.
As our employees carry the values of inclusivity into their personal lives, they contribute to positive social change, promoting equality, and inclusiveness in their communities. This ripple effect helps foster a more inclusive Australia. A real-life example of this is our industry–leading gender–neutral paid parental leave, which has resulted in males making up 47% of employees taking extended leave to care for their young children.
47% of employees taking extended leave to care for young children are male.