For leaders committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture there are many ways forward.

I will point to three:

• Build trust: Create an environment where we all feel comfortable and empowered to have difficult conversations around who we are as individuals, the value of our differences, and how we can support each other in challenging times. More on this in a moment.

• Measure progress: Leaders can track and review various key performance indicators around inclusion and diversity such as talent acquisition, attrition, career progression, and leadership and account team composition. This data can be used to help senior leaders and their direct reports set goals that will help them identify and advance high performers of diverse backgrounds.

• Inspire others to aim high: Don’t be shy about sharing successes. At KPMG, we are proud to be consistently recognized for our inclusive and diverse culture. We celebrate our differences and believe they make us better and stronger.

Day of understanding

Last year our CEO Lynne Doughtie became a steering committee member of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, joining more than 500 business leaders who have pledged to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Inspired by this mission, on Dec. 7, 2018, KPMG invited our people across the country to participate in a Day of Understanding to increase the understanding of our differences, explore how we can support each other and continue to drive an environment of inclusion.

Strength in diversity

Ultimately, the goal of the day was to establish an environment in which everyone could feel comfortable and empowered to have those honest and sometimes difficult conversations about who we are as individuals and the value of — and strength in — our differences.

Several small-group sessions were held in the Minneapolis KPMG office; each kicked off with a video featuring a conversation among several KPMG partners and professionals. It was a frank, candid and refreshing discussion that spanned issues and challenges about the stereotypes they had encountered personally and still face in their personal and professional lives.

Overall, the feedback we received on the day was very positive.

Key benefits of diversity

Creating a culture of inclusion can help to solve myriad business issues and challenges. For example, a number of research studies underscore the benefits of building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture because it can drive innovation, increase retention and enhance quality and performance.

Start with communication

All of this, however, starts with communication. It’s the simple key that can unlock the door to an environment that encourages and facilitates the types of conversations we had during the Day of Understanding.

George Kehl is the managing partner in the Minneapolis office of KPMG LLP.