Andrea Elkin
Talent Development Leader

Is the Office DEI’s X-Factor?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Andrea Elkin, VP of strategic enablement, enterprise learning, and knowledge management for ADP says "Talent is a paramount priority.”

Founded in 1949, ADP started as a manual payroll processing business. Today, it provides a full suite of human capital management tools and services that support payroll, benefits administration, and other HR-related functions. The HCM company also offers talent analytics and compliance expertise to its 1 million customers in 140 countries.


Andrea Elkin, VP of strategic enablement, enterprise learning, and knowledge management for ADP, believes the nature of the company’s products and services is a great advantage for the work her team does supporting talent across the organization.

“When you think about my role in talent development, I'm working for an organization that's powering the talent of other companies,” she states. “Our company provides services and knowledge that clients need to ultimately achieve their people and talent goals. This means we have an unparalleled view of the workforce, with a unique lens into employee experiences.”

Elkin asserts that a core value for the organization is the idea that “taking care of clients has to start with taking care of associates. Talent development fits into that notion. Talent is a paramount priority.”

Andrea Elkin
Amid this culture, it’s no surprise that ADP was included as one of the 2023 Fortune® World's Most Admired Companies™ for the 17th consecutive year. In fact, ADP has received many talent-related awards over the years, especially in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). These awards include Best Company for Diversity (2019-2022, Comparably), 100% Corporate Equality Index Rating (2009-2022; Human Rights Campaign Foundation), America’s Best Employers for Diversity (2018-2021, Forbes), to name a few.

According to the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Report, “At ADP, we know an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives cultivates the best ideas. We continually strive to create a space where everyone is appreciated and valued for their unique individuality. That’s why we make diversity, equity, and inclusion the pillar of our one-of-a-kind culture and a business imperative.”

Along with ensuring fair and equitable hiring practices and fostering under-represented talent through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Hispanic Serving Institutions, and other diverse campuses, ADP has implemented multiple programs that work to elevate DEI, including:

  • Inclusive language initiative: Program to establish inclusive language guidance and standards, and continually evaluate communication policies to identify and remove outdated or insensitive language.
  • Business resource groups (BRGs): Voluntary, associate-led groups that serve as a driving force of diversity, culture, and inclusion. Groups include Thrive (Disabilities), Adelante (Hispanic), Elevate (Asian), Cultivate (Black/African American), PRIDE (LGBTQ+), Generations (Multigenerational), iWIN (International Women’s Inclusion Network), Military Strong (Military), Inspire (Innovation), and Green (environmental, sustainability, and governance).
  • Unconscious bias awareness. Training aimed at disrupting bias and building an inclusive culture. Since 2021, ADP has trained over 2,500 leaders in mitigating unconscious bias and using best practices to ensure inclusive hiring.

But Elkin believes the “responsibility of talent development is to create environments, not just training or other programs, that enable people to grow. That means we need to build places where our people can express their authentic selves. People need to have access to diverse points of view, diverse cultures, diverse ideas.”

She believes that hybrid workplace dynamics that allow for flexibility as well as in-person connection are important. She adds that “without that connection, we risk losing opportunities to connect with other people and points of view.”

To illustrate her point she shares a story about leaving her office one evening and finding several co-workers talking about a new wellness benefit at ADP. Before long, they were teaching her how to use health-related features on her smart watch and discussing different foods, which lead to some talk about different cultures.


“We're having real human conversations about how to stay healthy. It was meaningful conversation, and everyone left feeling a little closer to each other,” says Elkin.

What’s more, she worries about how people working from home can get stuck in an echo chamber of their own ideas and priorities. “To drive diversity of thought, we need safe places where people learn how to work with and from others who are not like them,” she says.

The mission of strategic enablement, she contends, is not only to develop people, but to develop people in places. “There’s an aspect of this that’s about inclusion, but there’s also an aspect of innovation. Creating diverse environments helps people reach their full potential and, ultimately, that will drive business success. I think that the office will have a huge impact on helping businesses moving forward.”

Elkin says thinking about these issues is part of her role as a leader—and as a leader in talent development.

“That’s leadership. Leadership is changing people’s perspectives of what's possible and probable. No matter what experience you come from, you see the world through your own lens. Talent leaders help people see the world through other lenses as well.”

Read more from Talent Development Leader.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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