Employee focus groups and internal surveys indicated room for improvement in how diversity is understood and perceived within the organization.
Employees and leaders across the organization are encouraged to participate in writing and sharing what we are calling “I Am Who I Am” stories to generate conversation and make/strengthen connections. Sharing personal details about one’s life in a story format helps all employees understand that diversity comes in many forms. There is great diversity in the stories and the way in which they are shared. Examples include everything from sharing bucket list items, to being raised by immigrant parents who spoke no English at home, to losing a spouse at a young age, to stories written in poem form or as a spoken word. Leaders’ stories are published on an intranet site to help all employees across the enterprise see them as fellow human beings whose rich dimensions of diversity may not be readily apparent.
Employees at all levels have also been using the I Am Who I Am stories in multiple ways: to introduce themselves in meetings (rather than reading a bio), posting their stories in their work areas, putting a shortened version of their story on laptop stickers provided for this purpose, etc. In the month of April for Celebrate Diversity month, all employees were encouraged to share their story on the D&I business social platform (Yammer) to create connections.
I Am Who I Am stories have helped us promote and maintain an inclusive workplace where everyone can feel welcome and free to be their authentic selves at work, and have opened another avenue for personal connections.
Although it is not possible to draw a direct correlation between this action and our diversity/inclusion scores, we are able to track activity on the intranet page and the business social platform, and collect feedback which has indicated the positive impact these stories are having on employee engagement, trust in leadership, and perceptions of diversity.
State Farm strives to be known for our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are stronger and better together when we seek the broadest perspectives, invite fresh, new ideas and encourage healthy, respectful debate. But these are just words. We make this real when we each commit and empower ourselves to continue to nurture an environment where diversity and inclusion are welcome and expected in everything we do. Our customers and associates deserve nothing less.