Our union-represented employees provided feedback that they would like a process to resolve small employee issues within their ranks rather than elevating them to management or the Human Resources department. These issues often have a relationship to diversity and inclusion.
The company’s Organizational Effectiveness group developed a structured Peer Team program and trained volunteer-represented employees on conflict resolution skills, including active listening and conducting effective, crucial conversations. The training included understanding which issues required escalation to management, Human Resources, or the company’s helpline.
Further, the Peer Team members had the opportunity to learn to conduct Respectful Workplace training themselves. The train-the-trainer sessions covered implicit bias, generational diversity, and thinking and communication styles. Also, an annual event brings together the Peer Team leaders for continued training, the sharing of best practices, and exchanging feedback.
Peer Teams are now active at the company’s field services locations where the majority of our San Diego represented employees are assigned. The teams have expanded to include office staff and other non-management, non-union personnel.
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.