Making DE&I happen

With its broad range of services — pharmaceutical distribution, global manufacturer and distribution of medical and laboratory products, and provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities — Cardinal Health understands the inherent value of having its workforce reflect the diverse communities it serves. That’s why it is committed to making diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) a key pillar of the organization. And why the company is laser-focused on building a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace that values the unique perspectives and contributions of all employees — a place where every employee can bring 100% of themselves every day.

Many organizations talk about how DE&I can make you more innovative and creative, inspire better decision-making and help solve problems faster. But they are doing more than talking about it — Cardinal Health is making it happen.

“Our strong focus on DE&I enables us to attract and retain the best talent, and we’ve put a real emphasis on increasing representation of diverse employees at the manager level and above.”

Devray Kirkland, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Cardinal Health

Leveling up under-represented talent

To support the company’s 2030 representation goals, the Talent Management team at Cardinal Health set out to develop a program that would not only provide under-represented talent with the opportunities to advance, but also — and more importantly — to prepare them to accelerate their readiness more quickly to leadership roles within the organization. The results of this program were more than conclusive. Of the diverse and high-potential employees involved:

  • 30% have experienced role expansions, lateral moves to new roles, or a promotion
  • 58% are on documented succession plans
  • 96% have been retained

Launching a new diversity program to elevate employees

The team started by connecting and then collaborating with Korn Ferry, whose Power of Choice program inspired the creation of Cardinal Health’s own initiative, designed to help employees own their development and advance through the company. The program, which is named Elevate, launched in 2021 with 24 diverse and high-potential employees representing multiple generations. One of the key differences of the program was that it paired participants with their direct managers and took both on a learning journey together — an approach based on Korn Ferry’s SuccessPath® Pairs concept.

Throughout the six-month program, participants engaged in eight workshops and four group coaching sessions, all of which challenged them to explore and execute a series of personal and professional choices designed to help advance their development. At the same time, the participants’ managers took part in three workshops that helped progress the working relationship and encourage the adoption of the best possible choices made in the participant sessions.

Improving manager and participant relationships

At the program’s conclusion in April 2022, one manager said, “I found great value in having both manager sessions and participant/manager sessions. Going through the program together made sure that my direct report had an even better experience, because it gave us the opportunity to work together on her development.”

As well as the sessions outlined above, there was also a listening session with the program’s executive sponsor and the opportunity to work alongside their managers to chart their development plans. But it didn’t stop there: each participant continued — and will continue — to receive further opportunities to progress, including the completion of a 360º assessment with their peers, manager and direct reports six months after the end of the program. Continuous learning and development, after all, increases the chances of success when it comes to programs like these. Indeed, one Elevate participant said, “The most important learning for me is to focus on making more and more meaningful connections that will support my growth and maintain my momentum, even when I encounter setbacks.”

Continuing the success of the Elevate program

Encouraged and excited by the success of the inaugural Elevate program, Cardinal Health has recently launched the second edition and has ambitious but achievable plans to create and launch more initiatives under the Elevate banner.

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