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Cardinal Health expands DE&I efforts with talent strategy

Cardinal Health said it intends to increase the company's global leadership representation of women, as well as African American and Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and all other ethnically diverse groups in leadership roles.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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Cardinal Health is unleashing a comprehensive talent strategy to increase representation of diverse employees at the manager level and above by 2030. This commitment is specifically aimed at increasing the company's global leadership representation of women, as well as African American and Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and all other ethnically diverse groups in leadership roles in the United States.

"Diversity, equity and inclusion are business imperatives," said Mike Kaufmann, CEO of Cardinal Health. "When the voices at our table are diverse and reflect the communities we serve, the choices we pursue and the decisions and policies we make are more inclusive, creative, and best position our company for long-term sustainable growth. We believe that an employee population with diversity of talent, experiences and ideas drives more innovation — innovation that enables us to meet our customers' changing needs today and tomorrow."

Through this commitment and specific goals, the Cardinal Health workforce makeup will change in the following ways by 2030:

  • In the U.S., increase representation of African American and Black employees at the manager level and above to 11% (up from 5%).
  • In the U.S., increase representation of Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and all other ethnically diverse groups at the manager level and above to 23% (up from 17%).
  • Globally, increase representation of women at the manager level and above to 48% (up from 40%).

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“Creating a workplace that is truly diverse, inclusive and equitable takes focused, thoughtful planning, and it doesn't happen overnight," said Ola Snow, chief human resources officer at Cardinal Health. "We are proud to have devoted many years to building a strong foundation, and are excited to continue refining our recruiting, development, succession and retention practices to help ensure equitable access and opportunity."

To achieve these goals, Cardinal Health said it would focus on attracting, developing, and retaining diverse talent, from entry-level to senior leadership positions.

"To build a diverse pipeline of tomorrow's leaders, we must develop and advance women and ethnic minorities," said Devray Kirkland, chief diversity officer at Cardinal Health. "We are expanding our existing differentiated development programs, and creating new offerings, to bring an equity lens to our development practices and help more effectively advance underrepresented talent."

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Differentiated development programs provide professional growth opportunities, as well as increased access and awareness for women and ethnic minorities. Cardinal Health launched its first such program for women in fiscal year FY2010 and added programs for African American and Black employees in FY2021. This year (FY2022), the company will:

  • Partner with Korn Ferry, a world-class, industry leader in leadership development, to create a six-month program to enhance the development of high potential and high-performing ethnically diverse talent at the manager and director levels, and help historically underrepresented talent to advance successfully into the first levels of leadership;
  • Expand the company’s "Aspiring Leaders" program, currently in a pilot phase in the U.S. and designed for underrepresented supply chain leaders not yet at the manager level. This program, focused on helping participants grow their leadership skills, has been developed in partnership with Franklin Covey to address what McKinsey & Company calls the "broken rung" in the talent pipeline;
  • Expand the participation of minority women in the leadership programming of Women for Economic and Leadership Development – Ohio chapter. The in-depth WELD program is designed to prepare women for their first promotion to management and to build confidence in those assuming a management role for the first time.

[Read more: Cardinal Health reports Q4, full-year results for fiscal year 2021]

The company also said that it will focus on developing diverse junior talent through its existing summer internship program and EMERGE, a three-year rotational development program for young professionals launching their careers.

Notably, the Human Resources & Compensation Committee of the Cardinal Health Board of Directors recently approved expanding diversity, equity and inclusion metrics in the company's FY2022 annual incentive plan at the director level and above, and performance proration of  its long-term equity plan at the senior vice president and above, with a portion of payouts aligned to progress toward long-term representation goals over each program's relevant performance periods. These incentives extend well beyond the executive team, reinforcing the cultural commitment within the company's leadership team, Cardinal Health said.

"Increasing representation, equity and access is foundational to who we are and everything we do," Snow continued. "We believe it will have a positive impact on our employees, our business, our customers and the communities where we work and live."