More and more, businesses are beginning to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the workplace. In order to learn more about the benefits of these initiatives, we went straight to the source: our local DEI leaders. What follows are their insights regarding their role, their responsibilities, and their vision for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workspace.
Photo by Rich Smith
Chief Inclusion Officer & VP of External Affairs
How would you explain the importance of DEI in the workplace?
Valuing differences across your organization makes a great company. Companies are strong when their employees contribute different ideas, viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds. Creating an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work is essential. Having a workforce that represents the communities we serve and ensuring all employees feel included are key to our success. Our world is more diverse than ever and so is the talent pool of job candidates, and research shows that companies with greater diversity outperform those without.
How does having a DEI officer benefit employees?
To an extent, an ID&E role can serve as part of the conscience of an organization. There is a person in place who helps shape company culture by integrating themselves into key, critical business areas and asking necessary – sometimes uncomfortable – questions. For example, does a business know how it will address issues related to the emotional and mental health and safety of its employees? Are there opportunities for improving the career path of diverse employees? And how does the business help ensure an inclusive work experience?
What has been the most rewarding aspect of this job?
Being an advocate at heart, I’ve enjoyed shaping our company’s ID&E strategy and seeing its impact on so many employees and our communities. This work is hard at times. As I reflect back over the past two years – from the pandemic to the social justice issues that arose from George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others – being a safe haven for employees to share how they are feeling and providing resources and comfort during such difficult times has been rewarding. Overall, knowing that the work we do today will shape the lives of so many in the future means a lot to me.
What led you to choose this career?
I chose it and I believe it chose me; it was a little of both. At my core, I enjoy being an advocate for others and addressing issues of inequity, both professionally and personally, so my professional career path was a natural fit. Over the past 11 years, I’ve been on a non-traditional career path, from HR to operations, to government and regulatory affairs, and then back to HR. It’s been quite a ride, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.