We regularly hear news of domestic and foreign terrorist attacks; police brutality against people of color; and the rise of hate crimes against Muslims, Jews and the LGBTQ community. The result is an increasing sense of isolation for many. What it means to us as a company is that, if we want our employees to thrive, we need to take action to ensure that diversity and inclusion are built into the fabric of our culture. To be a truly inclusive culture – one that cultivates a sense of belonging – we need to start being comfortable having difficult D&I conversations in the workplace.
Our 2016 Diversity & Inclusion Summit was a good beginning. It celebrated the power of the personal story. With our theme “Share Our Story,” participants were invited to understand their unique experiences as assets that make us better employees and, by extension, a better company. During the summit, some employees presented brief “historias” (Spanish for “history” or “story”) highlighting something unique about their personal history, D&I experience or commitment.
Throughout the year, Employee Resource Groups hosted additional opportunities for employees to increase their sense of belonging. Examples include the following:
- Black History Month celebration included a Black Lives Matter employee panel. Employees were invited to share their personal experience being black in America and some of the injustices/bias they’ve encountered.
- During Pride month, we held a “coming-out” employee panel. Several employees and their family members talked about their personal coming-out experience – both from the perspective of the person coming out and of the family members whose child or children had come out.
- Create a sense of connection and belonging through storytelling
- Validate that employees “feel valued as an individual at work” via specific employee engagement survey questions