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Case study: How WESCO promotes workplace diversity

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, WESCO is a leading provider of electrical, industrial, and communications maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) and original equipment manufacturers (OEM) products, construction materials, and advanced supply chain management and logistics services. WESCO’s goal is to be an employer of choice in its industry. Accordingly, WESCO cultivates an inclusive workplace and incorporates a talent management platform that enables it to acquire, develop, and retain the diverse talent required to sustain a competitive advantage  Tweet This! in today’s global marketplace.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by WESCO published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Diversity at WESCO is a collection of individual characteristics and experiences that enable, each employee, to distinctly contribute to WESCO’s success as an organisation. In order to promote workplace diversity WESCO took action to:

  • promote executive engagement
  • provide diversity training
  • increase female and minority representation

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report WESCO identified a range of material issues, such as energy, emissions, supplier diversity, waste generated, employee wellness. Among these, promoting workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for WESCO.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups WESCO engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Current and Prospective Customers

 

·      Formal and informal surveys

·      Customer meetings

·      Ad hoc conversations

·      Needs assessments

·      Newsletter

Employees

 

 

·      Town hall meetings

·      Quarterly business update webinars

·      Biennial employee engagement survey

·      One-on-one meetings with managers and human resources

·      FastTrack intranet

·      Employee e-newsletters (“WESCO News”)

·      Tele-Tip Hotline

·      New Manager Training

Suppliers

 

·      Joint executive and regional planning meetings with preferred suppliers

·      Annual collaboration to develop product catalogues

·      Ongoing business agreements with preferred suppliers

·      Risk evaluation for new suppliers

Governments and Regulators ·      Industry association participation

 

Investors

 

 

·      Individual calls and meetings on a daily basis

·      Quarterly earnings calls

·      Investor conferences and events

·      Annual shareholder meeting

·      Investor Day

·      Sustainability Reports

·      Participation in various evaluations, ratings, and rankings, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project, TruCost, FTSE Low Carbon Economy, Sustainalytics, GMI Analysts, and Bloomberg

Local Communities ·      Employee initiatives

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics WESCO engaged with its stakeholders through customer surveys of WESCO’s sustainability progress, employee surveys and other feedback mechanisms.

What actions were taken by WESCO to promote workplace diversity?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report WESCO reports that it took the following actions for promoting workplace diversity:

  • Promoting executive engagement
  • WESCO’s executives set the strategy and tone for its business goals, talent, and culture. The success of WESCO’s I&D (inclusion and diversity) strategy depends on their visible and vocal participation in I&D initiatives. Accordingly, WESCO developed communication tools for its leaders to share the importance of an I&D strategy and set expectations and goals. WESCO also created a dashboard that measures each SOCIAL leader’s I&D key performance indicators, such as female and minority representation, promotions, new hires, and “high potential” employees. The metrics are reviewed by the WESCO Board of Directors, chief executive officer, and chief human resources officer.
  • Providing diversity training
  • WESCO has developed practical training and tools for its leaders and managers to engage and leverage diverse experiences and ideas. Any employee who manages people within WESCO, including its top 100 leaders, is required to complete a course on overcoming unconscious bias in the workplace. Additionally, in early 2018 and early 2019, WESCO’s top 100 leaders attended a four-hour workshop on consciously inclusive leadership, which was supplemented with a 90-minute interactive webinar in between to review tools and techniques for building a diverse workforce and being an inclusive leader.
  • Increasing female and minority representation
  • WESCO has set a high-level goal to recruit and hire females and minorities at an accelerated rate. WESCO tracks and reports on this data through the leader dashboards and, to increase its pipeline of female and minority candidates, WESCO updated all of its external-facing recruiting platforms to reflect its goal of attracting and hiring a highly diverse workforce. WESCO also surveyed 1,980 randomly selected employees to ask what they liked about working at WESCO, using their responses to develop authentic employee testimonials for its social media, career site, and recruiting materials. WESCO’s recruitment efforts are aided by two employee resource groups. WESCO Women’s Network focuses on professional development, networking, and community service. The WESCO Veterans Support Network, which launched in 2018, supports WESCO’s efforts to recruit, support, and engage with veterans. WESCO also actively recruits veterans through its partnership with RecruitMilitary, which connects veterans with potential employers through job fairs and a jobs database. WESCO participated in six live and virtual job fairs in 2018 and communicates all of its open positions via LocalJobNetwork.com, which is a network of more than 600 locally focused employment and diversity websites that helps WESCO reach female and minority candidates. WESCO also uses the Professional Diversity Network, which pairs members with employers who are serious about building a diverse workforce. In 2018, WESCO carried out on-campus recruitment of minority candidates at Howard University and attended the National HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Week Conference to make sure that its Sales Development Training Programme had diverse representation.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees

Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by WESCO, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to WESCO: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.