Areas of Expertise

We Have a Broad Range of Knowledge

Catalyst’s global expertise enables us to interact with professionals all over the world. By aspiring to “global reach, regional relevance,” we strive to understand the key issues for professional women and men within the context of their societies, and the primary challenges for local talent who aspire to leadership roles within global organizations.

Consulting Services is not limited to consultations about issues concerning women. In fact, our experience suggests that focusing on all employees enables them to excel through equal opportunity, trust, collaboration, and the appreciation of differences.

We also provide focused advisement in a variety of areas, customized to reflect our clients’ cultural and contextual realities. 

Bringing the weight of Catalyst's knowledge and expertise to the table has been enriching and has been powerful in furthering conversations with senior leaders and employees in general. Being a member of Catalyst not only means that you have your finger on the pulse of what's happening in terms of gender diversity in the corporate world but it also means that you have a wealth of information at your finger tips.
—Nia Joynson-Romanzina, Head Global Diversity & Inclusion, Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd


Accountability

Accountability mechanisms increase the consistency of efforts among stakeholders and provide the clarity of purpose necessary for change. Accountability allows D&I efforts the same attention as other business imperatives, and makes it possible for organizations to reward behaviors that are aligned with their business plans.

Catalyst can help you determine the right accountability mechanisms for your organization. We can share best practices that have generated real results, and collaborate to develop an approach that works with your organization’s unique business culture.

Busines Case Development and Change Rationale

A business case for D&I drawn from your organization’s unique strengths and challenges sends a powerful message about your commitment to D&I, and helps educate stakeholders about its importance to overall business success. Many companies develop business cases by determining the profit-increases and cost-reductions associated with improving D&I. Others emphasize the relationship between people and sustainability, and coordinate this effort with corporate responsibility and ESG (environment, social, and governance) reporting, focusing on a triple bottom line.  

The best business cases are based on solid organizational evidence and trend analyses of your corporate landscape: your workforce profile and labor pool, your competitors and marketplace, your supply chain, and your customers, clients, and communities. Together, these elements determine the ways in which D&I matters to your enterprise. Additionally, such business cases reflect the values of the organization’s personnel, helping them to align their everyday actions with inspirational ideals that benefit individuals, the organization, and communities. These cases are dynamic, changing as the business and social context changes.

Catalyst can help you define or improve your business case through analysis and discussion of your organization and relevant external data and trends.

Communications and Engagement

An effective communication and marketing strategy is an essential ingredient to success. Catalyst helps organizations create targeted communications educate stakeholders about the business case, rationale, and benefits of change, reinforce key messaging, and articulate goals and progress. In fact, top-down communications can serve as a primary motivator of cultural change by operating as a vehicle to celebrate wins, highlight success stories, and showcase role models.

Cross-Cultural Competency

Cross-cultural understanding and regional sensitivity are critical skills that are often ignored in organizational strategic planning. From identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses, to prioritizing opportunities and challenges, to designing programmatic interventions, effective dialogue between constituencies is paramount. In today’s global businesses, understanding emerging markets and the diversity of employees, customers, and partners is essential.

At Catalyst, we bring a cross-cultural perspective to all of our work, stressing the importance of thinking globally (cross-organization) as well as locally (in terms of geography, function, and division).

Diagnosis and Strategy Development

Diagnostic and strategic planning work is one of our core areas of expertise and a great benefit to many of our members. In order to develop a D&I strategy that will generate meaningful results, diagnosis is critical. More than a numbers game, diagnosis requires a detailed analysis of quantitative and qualitative data to assess the causes contributing to your organization’s current dynamics. Carried out in this way, diagnosis identifies not only your unique challenges, but also the specific strengths your organization can develop. It also looks beyond representation figures as measures of the organization’s D&I efforts, and allows your new strategy to address particular norms, processes, or policies. The process of analyzing key data points can also help to establish appropriate progress metrics as your efforts are rolled out.

Strategy development builds on your diagnosis by identifying the levers that will drive greater diversity and inclusion at your organization. During strategy development, we help an organization articulate its vision, goals, and the actions it should take in both the short- and long-term. We base these actions on the organization’s areas of focus and critical change drivers—the business case, senior leadership support, communication, metrics, and accountability systems.

Catalyst can advise you through all stages of diagnosis to action. We emphasize partnership and co-creation: you are the experts on your organization, and we can build on your expertise by arming you with our experience and knowledge of practices, programs, and strategy. Through strategic planning sessions, we design and facilitate discussion and brainstorming among stakeholders, and guide your strategy development process. Rather than always pushing our clients to do more, we advise them to be strategic and business-focused so that their actions make sense within the context of global and local relationships and other organizational realities.

Catalyst has helped us develop pragmatic solutions for our business.
—Fleur Bothwick, Director of Diversity & Inclusive Leadership-EMEIA, Ernst and Young LLP


Diversity and Inclusion Education

Inclusion can be hard work. In order to create real behavioral change in support of diversity, organizations must support progress by providing education and tools to all employees. This is critical for raising awareness of your diversity and inclusion goals, and helping employees think about their own interactions and act in ways that support those goals.

Education can also occur through many mechanisms, such as diversity councils and ERGs. Creating empowered centers of diversity, and appointing inclusion champions to troubleshoot the everyday issues that arise when employees of diverse backgrounds work together, provides additional means for education and engagement.

Drawing from our vast knowledge—based on working with our members, research, D&I Practices, and advisory work—we have helped clients think through how to increase the impact of educational programs through direct alignment with strategy. We have developed workshops, advised on curricula and educational programs, and trained internal staff. Throughout our partnership, our goal is for clients to both understand all that diversity and inclusion means, and know what they can do to model inclusion. Catalyst can also advise you on ways to increase championship with awareness, empowerment, and accountability.

Diversity and Inclusion Councils

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Councils can take on many roles in support of an organization’s D&I vision, including strategic advisors, directors, monitors, liaisons, and/or champions. Councils have an important part to play by aligning inclusion definitions and operations with business conduct and strategy, communicating the business case for diversity, and embedding D&I values as pillars of an organization’s culture. Councils are also beneficial in that they bring together a cross-section of organizational experts and thought leaders to address business issues.

Catalyst has worked with many companies and firms in both establishing new and refining existing D&I Councils. With careful consideration of business goals, charters, global and local parameters, objectives, and individual roles and responsibilities, Catalyst can help you understand the critical success factors for your council, share best practices, and chart a course of action appropriate for your organization.

Diversity and Inclusion Governance

What is the appropriate organizational infrastructure required to support diversity and inclusion? The answer depends, in part, on your organization’s operations, methods of accomplishing other business objectives, and current growth strategies. But developing appropriate roles, lines of authority, and communication among stakeholders is always essential to maximizing efficiency, innovation, and global collaboration. Understanding the external landscape and best practices is also helpful in creating a structure that not only works, but maximizes your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Catalyst helps you model a structure that is right for you, built on critical success factors, your business’s organization, and adaptations of tried-and-true infrastructures. We provide examples from other organizations, prototypes, and job descriptions. We also facilitate discussions around the various decisions that organizations must make to determine the right configuration for their own successful programs.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGS)

For many organizations, networks or ERGs, have a critical role to play in creating an inclusive culture. They provide a resource for both members and the organization, and are dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment within the context of the organization’s mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives. They assist employees throughout their professional development, in some cases providing sponsor or mentor programs, unique forums for employees to engage with managers and business leaders, and formal training and other career development opportunities. ERGs often serve companies and firms by functioning as an advisory board to senior leadership and providing product and service input from the perspective of their members. They also focus externally, strengthening client relationships and supporting business lines by helping to develop sales, marketing, and other business approaches for specific consumer segments. In addition, ERGs have become central to community relationships. 

Catalyst has more than 20 years of experience working with ERGs across a variety of industries and regions. Catalyst wrote the book on women’s networks, Creating Women’s Networks: A How-To Guide For Women and Companies, in 1999, and more recently we released The Catalyst Guide to Employee Resource Groups. Catalyst can help establish new ERGs and refine existing ones through a guided decision-making process. In all cases, we helps you with your business case, strategic alignment, infrastructure, leadership support, and measures of effectiveness.

Innovation

We know that diversity within a team can increase the variety of ideas and breadth of perspectives, provide more practical approaches to problem-solving, inspire more creativity, and flag risks and challenges to innovation. Yet making the most of this diversity is hard work, and there are many organizations that follow the same approach, or appoint leadership teams who lack demographic diversity and/or do not solicit diverse perspectives. These behaviors will leave companies behind in the race to innovate.

Catalyst works with you to determine how to bridge this disconnect by establishing the goals and configurations that will maximize innovation. For example, we can advise you on strengthening collaboration among internal teams and external partners through “open innovation” platforms, developing vehicles for ongoing stakeholder expression and management of virtual teams, creating an environment where risk-taking and new ideas are encouraged and leaders can serve as role models, and recognizing and rewarding the right behaviors to harness innovation.

Leadership and Commitment

It is no secret that any Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) strategy will fail without stewardship and action from organizational leaders. Yet while many leaders believe strongly in D&I, they struggle to express their commitment in ways that promote understanding and investment. In addition, cynicism about diversity and inclusion often creates a tough audience of employees who can’t see what’s in it for them and are already feeling stretched and stressed to deliver on other business imperatives.

Catalyst has assisted organizations and executives in uncovering ways to “talk the talk” more effectively and “walk the walk” more visibly through discussion of the business case for D&I, effective championship behaviors and actions, appropriate accountability mechanisms, and how to drive change through their direct reports and the rest of the organization. When we engage with management teams, we draw on Catalyst’s deep understanding of leadership challenges, experience working with senior teams, CEO Summits, and insights from our own Boards. We are proud of the respect that we have earned in this area.

Metrics and Scorecards

Organizations committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace must develop measurements and tools to ensure the ongoing understanding, control, and improvement of their initiatives. Based on the organization’s diversity and inclusion strategy, measurement can assist in communicating performance objectives, identifying gaps between outcomes and expectations, encouraging better decision-making, and demonstrating the value of workplace initiatives.

Catalyst can help you to develop metrics to measure and monitor workforce statistics, engagement, and environment as well as specific levers of organizational performance related to an inclusive workplace. We can also refine the metrics that you are already using. We work collaboratively with you to determine the core metrics that best reflect your organization’s diversity and inclusion objectives and vision. This collaboration can also include integrating existing measurement tools, establishing baseline data, and planning for ongoing data collection. Throughout this process, we build your organization’s internal ability to support the ongoing tracking and reporting of workplace metrics.

One key measurement method we often employ involves the use of scorecards that relay, at a high level, the progress and opportunities that merit attention. With Catalyst, you will be able to identify the elements needed to create your organization’s diversity and inclusion scorecard. Our input includes consideration of visual design, maintenance, targeted organizational impact, and your organization’s unique culture and processes. Finally, we offer advice on the metrics and scorecard communication strategy and rollout, with the goal of increasing managerial engagement and support.

Sponsorship and Mentoring Initiatives

We know that underrepresented employees face barriers to advancement. Lack of role models, stereotypes about performance and potential, and lack of access to informal networks can hamper equal opportunities in organizations.

Two behaviors that can help are mentoring and sponsorship. A mentoring relationship is often established for the career development of both mentor and mentee, or for a junior employee navigating a workplace or particular field with a wise and trusted counselor. A mentor’s central task is to help a mentee achieve his or her potential by encouraging the mentee to improve performance and develop new skills and knowledge, and by providing insights into the organizational culture. Effective mentoring programs can provide tremendous benefits to an organization, including greater employee commitment and performance, increased transfer of knowledge and rates of promotion, and reduced turnover.

Sponsors, on the other hand, actively advocate for employees in decision-making forums when employees are not in a position to do so themselves. Sponsors are people who have power and influence within an organization, and can provide their protégés with visibility and access to valuable networks. By endorsing high-performing employees for critical roles or assignments, sponsors expand opportunities and promote greater inclusion throughout the entire workforce.

Catalyst can help organizations design appropriate programs or improve the efficacy of existing programs based on its years of experience, detailed knowledge of award-winning efforts, and ongoing, cutting-edge research.

Talent Management Processes

Smart companies know that unintentionally exclusive talent management practices inhibit opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups to gain critical career development experiences and to be identified and selected for progressively higher levels of responsibility. In consequence, workforce diversity among entry- and mid-level employees is lost. Without proactive attention, unintended bias can creep into all aspects of talent management including recruitment, performance assessment, and high-potential identification and leadership selection. Organizational productivity and performance suffers as a result.

This is a particular concern for professional services firms, where skilled knowledge and talent is essential to the business. As organizations strive to tackle the shortage of executive talent, make the most of fewer employee resources, limit turnover, and maintain organizational success, it is critical that they understand how vulnerable talent management systems are to gender biases and stereotypes.

Catalyst can help you ensure that all talent can excel. Drawing on our cutting edge research, award-winning corporate initiatives, and advisory services consultations, we can help you develop practical solutions for effective and culturally inclusive talent management processes.

Work-Life Effectiveness

Catalyst has developed an advanced workforce approach called work-life effectiveness (WLE) to engender high performance and engagement and reduce costs. WLE supports greater organizational agility with a focus on business priorities and innovation. At the same time, WLE provides employees with the control they need to address their non-work priorities and manage the complexity of their lives and organizational demands. Our approach guides managers and leaders through a process of defining work priorities while taking into account the attributes of the individuals on their teams, and then finds solutions that work for the organization as well as for individuals. In this way, WLE is about employer profitability and employee sustainability.

Catalyst can consult with you about establishing greater work-life effectiveness. We have also developed a two-tiered workshop to equip managers and leaders with the tools they need to support WLE. Participation enables senior leadership and middle management to share a common mission, vision, and strategy regarding the management of work and people, with focus on continuous process improvements and open communication to maximize productivity, efficiency, and results.