Diversity in the workplace creates the opportunities for a variety of viewpoints and perspectives which in turn can help develop stronger relationships with customers and increased innovation in product development. So many companies dive in with new policies, initiatives and tools to create a more diverse environment. And, that is a great thing! But it is only the beginning.
The other critical piece to the puzzle is inclusion. Creating a culture where people from all backgrounds and belief systems feel included. That’s the key to sustaining a diverse workforce.
Did you know that a solid Diversity & Inclusion program can help an organization…
- Attract and retain diverse TALENT
- Leverage an extensive range of backgrounds and skills to enhance CREATIVITY, INNOVATION, DECISION MAKING and PROBLEM SOLVING
- Increase ENGAGEMENT, PRODUCTIVITY and improve the quality of work/life BALANCE
- Enhance the reputation/brand as an EMPLOYER OF CHOICE
- Sustain an environment that treats people FAIRLY and EQUITABLY
Did you know that BerganKDV has a Diversity & Inclusion program? Here’s how it all began…
BerganKDV began talking about the need for a Women’s Initiative in 2016 and in the fall of 2017 myself and one of our Shareholders, Heather Gunderson, took the initial steps by holding a series of round-table meetings with female team members to learn how the firm could encourage their personal and professional growth. We heard some clear trends and, from there, expanded our initial idea of a Women’s Initiative to a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiative.
In early 2018 we created a council consisting of team members focused on fostering a sense of community at BerganKDV, enabling a sense of purpose in others, empowering well-being, developing and helping others play to their strengths, modeling authenticity, and instilling a culture of courage.
In the Spring of 2019, we officially launched our D&I Program, #Perspective, to promote an environment where our team members are thoughtful and deliberate in our efforts towards greater equality and differentiation in the workplace to build a brighter future for current and future team members and clients. We named the program #Perspective because everyone brings their own unique perspective of the world to work each day. To truly utilized each of those diverse perspectives or points of view for the purpose of advancing our firm, we need to be open and willing understand others’ viewpoints. Our program name was conceived to remind us of this.
What we’re up to now…
The 2020 #Perspective goals our council is working on are:
- Developing recruiting strategies to increase applicant pool diversity
- Identifying and partnering with other Diversity & Inclusion focused organizations in our communities. Reach out and let us know what you are doing in your organization!
- Creating an internal New Parent Resource Group
- Holding quarterly firm-wide diversity & inclusion training on various topics like generational differences, authentic leadership, implicit bias and diversity defined.
Lessons learned along the way…
We learned so many lessons in the last two years while bringing this program to fruition. Here are a just a few you may find helpful if you’re thinking of creating your own D&I program:
- You can only move as fast as your organization allows. What this means is that every organization’s attitude toward the issues of diversity and inclusion is different. Some organizations might be ready to jump in with both feet, while others may need some time to understand why D&I programs can truly benefit the organization. Don’t try to push your organization to move faster than it’s ready to. That will only lead to frustration and could ultimately sink the initiative. Be patient and allow the program to develop naturally on its own time.
- There will never be 100% adoption. Ideally everyone in your organization will be bought into a D&I program, but this will never be the case. Be prepared to share the business case for why a D&I program in your organization will make an impact by tying it to the issues your organization is working to solve. Here is an example – if your organization is struggling to find additional talent, a D&I program can help you expand your candidate pool to applicants you may not have thought to recruit in the past.
- Your D&I program needs an owner. For your program to truly take hold, someone in your organization needs to own and champion it. Without this, the program will likely lose momentum and stall out. Identify who in your organization has passion around the D&I initiative and allow them to run with it. They will be your greatest asset in a successful program.
The Next Steps in Our Journey
Now that we have a solid game plan, we will focus on implementation and monitoring results to see where we have hit the mark and areas where we can improve. Keep your eye out for future articles about some of our initiatives. Creating a diverse and inclusive culture is an ongoing priority and one that our firm gladly embraces. I encourage you to reach out if you have ideas to share from what you have experienced in your own company or if you have questions that we can help you with as you work on your own diversity and inclusion journey. Start here.