Nestlé's diversity success story is a road map for all brands and agencies

Its marketing arm has radically stepped up inclusion over the past two years.

This might be one of the most important brand diversity case studies out there right now.

In the space of two years, Nestlé has radically improved its inclusion story and now boasts stats including: 50 percent female senior marketing leadership and 70 percent in marketing roles at manager level and above; 41 percent of summer associates from ethnically diverse backgrounds; 87 percent of diverse employees participating in culture programs feeling more engaged as a result and; a 1:1 gender pay equity for salaried employees at Nestlé USA. 

"Diversity and inclusion are right for our talent, right for our culture, and right for our business, and help us build for the future," states Nestlé USA CEO Steve Presley.

With products found in 97 percent of American kitchens, Nestlé has no choice but to hold diversity at the center of its marketing ecosystem. 

Nestlé USA Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Enciso has leaned on her own experience growing up and working in Mexico to bring insights into multicultural consumers, contribute to industry-wide improvements in representation, and create a new perspective on building brands steeped in diversity. 

"Marketing is the beating heart of our business and drives our closeness and connection to all our diverse consumers," she said. "It’s critical that our teams leverage and empower underrepresented talent across gender, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQ status."

Nestlé outlined its steps for greater inclusion in a case study as part of the ANA’s recent Diversity Report. 


Leveraging partners
With diversity-focused talent partners like The Consortium and Prospanica, we’re able to engage diverse talent early in their educational and professional journey. Through these partnerships, 45 percent of undergraduate and MBA campus candidates came from diverse backgrounds. By combining that attraction with diverse interview panels of current employees, we’re ensuring leaders of tomorrow reflect our consumers and our community. 

Equipping candidates
Our Diversity Leadership Symposium brings together college students from diverse backgrounds for an intensive on-site program. Participants join career development sessions, network with business leaders, take part in a hands-on culinary experience, and interview for internships, co-ops, and trainee opportunities with a chance to return to school with a job offer in hand. 

Exposure and skill-building help close the gap for diverse students and make corporate opportunities accessible, while interview opportunities create a direct line from development to hiring.  

Ensuring pay equity
Nationwide, American women are still paid a lower average salary than their male counterparts, a problem that is exacerbated for women of color. A 2018 analysis found that salaries for female and male employees have reached a 1:1 gender pay equity at Nestlé USA. We have shared this information publicly with two purposes in mind: to attract strong female marketing talent to our company, and to encourage other businesses to follow our lead on equal pay. In 2018, we increased the portion of women hired for management roles by more than 50 percent.


Promoting workplace flexibility
While workplace flexibility adds value across our employee base, groups with diverse and valuable perspectives have been constrained from growth in marketing careers due to inflexible working environments, whether that’s new parents, military spouses, or those with elder care responsibilities. 

Our Parental Support Program offers up to six months of leave for primary caregivers regardless of gender, including 14 weeks of paid leave and options for phased/ part-time return. Leave does not impede advancement or growth, and breastfeeding mothers returning to work have guaranteed access to dedicated breastfeeding rooms. 

Broader flexibility programs support employees who need to adapt when, where, and how they do their work, from flexible hours to job-sharing. Flexibility, support, and empowerment have helped us retain strong diverse marketing talent throughout their careers. 

Fighting unconscious bias, building community, and advocating for employees
Alongside providing unconscious bias training for Nestlé managers, we advocate for diverse groups within our company and in the national dialogue. Internally, we support Employee Engagement Groups as they develop programs and events to help employees thrive, from organizing involvement in LGBTQ Pride events to hosting panels on marketing to diverse consumers.

Externally, we have voiced strong support for national employee protections, such as the Equality Act, letting our employees know that we support them beyond our bottom line.


Building diversity in talent pipelines
To develop internal talent, Nestlé invests in a strong pipeline approach for leadership with a focus on diversity. When identifying strong pipeline talent, we create paths to leadership through specific development assignments, helping take ambiguity and bias out of the professional development process and equipping a diverse generation of high-potential talent with the practical experience required to progress in their careers.

In conjunction with these assignments, we employ a hemisphere-wide leadership monitoring program with a strong emphasis on women in leadership, where cross-country mentorship also helps develop greater multicultural opportunities. 

Developing people leaders
We are developing leaders from all backgrounds to drive our company forward. Our SPARK training sessions focus on employees’ individual skills and experiences to help them understand how they can tap into their leadership potential. All marketing employees across the organization have taken this training, promoting courage in seeking new opportunities and creating a level playing field for leadership development.

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