We needed to examine and understand the difference in Associate engagement and retention with our Black Associate population with the intention of improving their experience and the work environment for all.
After hearing concerns and signs of issues, a small team formed and created a project vision using the guiding question: “What forces account for the current levels of Black Associates’ engagement, development and separation rates?” What ensued was a three year initiative called the “Race Project” which used data, D&I and Enterprise strategies to inform its approach.
During the first year, we partnered with our legal team and conducted a data analysis on separations, viewed information from our culture survey through demographic lenses and gathered qualitative data from Associate focus groups and leadership interviews. We learned about environmental work challenges from the perspectives of our Black Associates, White Associates and broad leaders. We then invited a cross-section of broad leaders, including our CEO, that had a history of supporting D&I work to present our findings. This group became the official steering team that provided ongoing guidance and influence as needed for future recommended solutions.
For the second year, the team tested targeted solutions. Working with HR, the team reviewed internal performance processes and piloted a few workshops. After conducting a project review with the Enterprise leadership, support was gained for a three-prong approach which was implemented during the final year of the project.
The three-prong approach included leadership education, support for Black Associates and a review of our processes and practices for an opportunity to mitigate unconscious bias where appropriate.
Gore implemented a Building Racial Literacy Workshop and over 400 U.S. leaders attended to increase their awareness on unconscious bias and its impact on Associates. Simultaneously, skill building and empowerment workshops were held for Black Associates. Finally, an assessment of key processes effecting opportunities and compensation was conducted and recommendations provided for path forward. This work has now been integrated into the broader D&I strategy.