Norma Barnes-Euresti, Chief Counsel for Labor, Employment, Ethics and Compliance, Kellogg Company

Barnes-Euresti is a champion for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Here she discusses the work that she does at Kellogg Company, and where it fits within the broader D&I conversation in both her legal team and the wider corporation.

At Kellogg Company, I serve on the executive diversity and inclusion council, the global legal and compliance department’s leadership team and I also lead the global ethics and compliance function. I serve as the head of the people team within the legal and compliance function, advising on global D&I issues, and am also the former executive sponsor of K Pride and Allies – Kellogg’s business/employee resource group (B/ERG) dedicated to LGBTQIA employees and their allies.

In the wider profession, I collaborate with external law firms that are passionate about diversity and inclusion. I serve on the board for the LGBT Bar Association and the board of trustees for the National Judicial College, which educates and inspires the judiciary on topics including diversity and inclusion.

At Kellogg, we know that people are our competitive advantage and we know we must nurture a diverse, inclusive environment in which all our people are empowered to bring their authentic ‘whole selves’ to work and achieve their full potential. Our focus on diversity enables us to build a culture where all employees are inspired to share their passion, talents and ideas. They become part of a team that works to better serve the needs of our diverse consumers by delivering fresh thinking, product innovations and quality brands.

Our legal and compliance team helps to advise the company on how to create a diverse and inclusive environment, so it’s essential that we’re leaders and role models in supporting, developing and growing diverse talent. It’s a competency that demands time, attention and leadership. The team is a testament to our ability to lead, as we are incredibly diverse – our leadership team is roughly 60% male and 40% female, and 50% of the team is a racial minority. We are also inclusive of other dimensions of diversity, including LGBTQIA people and persons with disabilities.

We are very intentional about developing and supporting an environment that fosters inclusion and a sense of belonging for all. We want to be a high-performing team, and that starts with trust. Trust is about confidence in your team members, assuming positive intent, and being open to being vulnerable and learning together. To me, it makes a personal difference to be able to bring my whole self to work, so I strive to ensure that others can do the same. We are very intentional about varying facets of diversity and factor this in as we aim to ensure everyone has the chance to speak and be heard.

We have a variety of companywide diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, our Kellogg executive diversity and inclusion council (EDIC) is chaired and actively led by our chairman and CEO, Steve Cahillane. The council meets at least quarterly to review workforce data including representation, hiring, promotions and turnover data, by gender, race/ethnicity, people with disabilities and veterans. EDIC is comprised of all global function heads, ensuring that diversity and inclusion considerations filter into each functional area.

We also have eight B/ERGs, three of which have global chapters. Each B/ERG is dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce within the context of our company’s mission, values and business objectives. These help to create an environment of inclusion and belonging, enabling our employees to bring their authentic selves to work and achieve their full potential. The B/ERGs also work in innovative ways to share their valuable insights to positively and strategically achieve our business goals and objectives.

The company provides training around the topics of unconscious bias, gender speak and microaggression to help ensure our leaders are aware of how their personal experiences can impact talent decisions.

At Kellogg, our legal team leads and influences the diversity and inclusion strategy, but is only one voice in this space. It all starts with us modeling diversity and inclusion in our department and advising on what has worked for us. One of the initiatives of which we’re very proud is our collaboration with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Law Fellow program. During this summer program – in partnership with the NAACP – students travel to Kellogg headquarters for an immersion in Kellogg’s culture and legal practices, and for exposure and interaction with many of our executive leaders.

I think it’s absolutely critical for outside legal service providers to be diverse and inclusive. If I’m receiving advice on how to manage employment and diversity issues, I want to be assured that it’s effective advice, and I want to see the providers demonstrate that they believe in their counsel.

At Kellogg, accountability for diversity and inclusion starts at the top. Annually, we provide an update for our board of directors that includes our workforce metrics, movement and qualitative efforts to drive improvement, and our board is actively engaged in our diversity and inclusion agenda.

At the B/ERG level, success is measured through our global opinion survey, which is administered to all employees, as well as through key performance indicators such as community service contributions and business impact.

Within the legal department, we monitor our strategies to see if they are working – we have an expert in data analytics who measures our work within the company and our own department to determine success and impact. We also benchmark ourselves against other companies. And, while we continue to do well in this space, we always strive to do better.

We find value in benchmarking best practices among competitors, as well as companies with world-class D&I programs. This helps us to stay at the forefront of the diversity and inclusion conversation. When reviewing these best practices, we discuss what works and how we can make it even better. Innovation is a core competency at Kellogg and we carry it into everything we do, including determining innovative ways to integrate diversity and inclusion practices throughout our organization.

Throughout our journey, we’ve learned that providing training on diversity topics is not enough. We need to focus on creating an environment where employees feel included, can develop a true sense of belonging and feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. We understand that this can only be achieved by creating a culture of trust, driven by leaders who are visible champions of inclusion. Employees have confidence in leaders who take the time to know them as individuals.