What diversity looks like
Back at Bridgestone Americas, Davis Ifeobu and Susie Long, vice president of talent, diversity and culture, work to make the company more inclusive and diverse every day.
"When I think of diversity, it's so much more than just skin color or gender or sexual preference. It is all the unique qualities that make us who we are as individuals and the attributes that really make us the whole being of who we are," Long said. "I think the inclusive piece is the ability to bring people together and value those differences, cherish those differences and celebrate those differences."
Not only is that the right thing to do for employees, it's good for business, she said.
"We are doing better. We have accelerated our efforts. It's a journey. I don't see that there's an end game here where we can say we've arrived and we're perfect. I think it's an ongoing endeavor," Long said.
Diversity is a complex issue because people are, well, diverse.
"Diversity is multifaceted because people are complex, made up of the things you see and the things you don't see," Davis Ifeobu said.
But creating a diverse and successful workplace certainly has its benefits, she said. "It creates a culture that's just fun and makes people want to work there. It's critically important to have a diverse culture that attracts and retains people."
For large organizations like tire manufactures and rubber companies, creating change can take time.
"It's a big machine to turn," she said.
Goodyear's Shetty said diversity and inclusion efforts cannot be a byproduct of other company work.
"To make a meaningful business impact, diversity and inclusion must be an intentional strategy, embedded throughout the entire organization," she said. "Diverse teams with an inclusive culture position Goodyear to attract top talent, accelerate future success with product and service innovation and enable top line growth and bottom line savings.
"Our markets are diverse, and our customers are diverse, and if we want to stay ahead of the market and the competition, we need to be able to be first to market with innovative products and services. A diverse work force gives us the edge to do that," Shetty said.
Bringing differing ideas and perspectives to the table, whether there are seats or not, helps companies succeed.
"The more ideas we have, the better we can innovate and deliver products and services for markets and customers whose needs and wants we understand," Shetty said. "A diverse organization and an inclusive culture also correlate directly to employee engagement and productivity. A culture where everyone feels heard and that their unique perspectives are valued will allow that talent to thrive."
Goodyear, Cooper, Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental might not agree on who makes the best tire. But the companies do agree about the power of diversity, equity and inclusion.