The company was looking for a way to reach a broader audience of employees regarding diversity and inclusion education. We wanted to create a forum for sharing D&I information from internal and external sources. We also wanted to celebrate those employees who have had a positive impact in creating an inclusive environment throughout the year.
We hosted our inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit in 2012, and have had five so far. Each one has been attended by 350-400 employees from all levels of the company in Southern California and Mexico.
The morning education program consists of 12 to 15 hour-long breakout sessions from which employees select three to attend. Most of the sessions are prepared by employees themselves – members of the company’s 13 Diversity & Inclusion Councils. The topics have included: generational diversity, female veterans, faith in the workplace, gender identity, Bipolar Disorder, gang communities, microaggressions, unconscious bias, LGBT awareness, diversity in Mexico, being Muslim in America and more.
The afternoon awards program features recognition for individual employees and teams who have excelled in the D&I arena. Areas of excellence include diversity and inclusion education, mentoring, community outreach and supplier diversity.
From the opening National Anthem, to the well-respected keynote speakers, to executive participation, the company’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace is clear to all. The most recent Summit feedback survey showed a 98% satisfaction rate. Many employees have said the D&I Summit is their favorite event of the year. Additionally, more exposure to these concepts brings more of a comfort level with them. This is reflected in our biannual employee engagement survey results, which show a bump in the responses to the survey statement, “I feel comfortable discussing diversity issues at work.” Additionally, the same survey shows a high-level of engagement across all ethnic groups.
When it comes to increasing diversity and inclusion, I don’t think there is a single path to success. A common thread, however, is a commitment that never ends – one that becomes embedded in an organization’s unique culture.