Revenue is important, but diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are vital components to the success of a company (i.e. the “humans” who make it run) and DEI initiatives should be a key focus for businesses.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in combination with the increased visibility of racial inequalities across the U.S. has made embracing diversity as a first step towards equity and inclusion more important than ever before. As a business leader, it’s essential to provide a safe space for your employees to work, as well as a space in which they are comfortable bringing their whole selves. This is accomplished by enabling and embracing the diversity that is your workforce. During the month of April, TBI participated in Celebrate Diversity Month – an initiative which began in 2004 to recognize and celebrate the diversity surrounding each other. The goal of Celebrate Diversity Month is to acknowledge and celebrate our similarities, and more importantly, our differences. We at TBI honor the humans we interact with (our employees, partners, and customers) and value the backgrounds and experiences of everyone.
But what does diversity mean to you personally? Is diversity a topic of conversation only when discussing the workplace? Depending on whom you ask, or in what setting, diversity can have different meanings and interpretations.
What diversity means has been evolving for some time now, but fundamentally, it’s about recognizing the value in our differences, and encompasses all the facets that make each human unique, including (but certainly not limited to) ethnicity, race, age, gender, personality, beliefs, life experiences, and sexual orientation; not to mention social, physical, and psychological differences. We live in increasingly diverse societies, and technology has accelerated the ability to connect with and learn about others around the world instantaneously. To solve the crises that we are facing, not only as a country but globally, we must accept diversity – diversity in the individuals that we collaborate and surround ourselves with, as well as diversity in the way that we look at and interpret the world around us.
But diversity can’t lie with one single entity. Nowadays, anyone can run a Google search and find any number of articles that explain the importance of diversity. Some of the top reasons why a business needs to focus on DEI include: diverse companies are more likely to financially outperform their peers, a focus on DEI enables growth and innovation, and diversity in the workplace creates effective teams that can pivot and adapt to change more quickly. Which brings me to my next questions - how important is it to you that the company that you work for truly values and supports diversity? What actions are you taking to promote and celebrate diversity?
As TBI is participating in Celebrate Diversity Month and as I write this blog post, I have been reflecting on my almost six years at TBI and our 2021 Word of the Year: “HUMAN”. As the Office Manager at TBI, I am responsible for making sure that TBI offices are running efficiently and effectively. However, there is also a large human component to my job functions as well. Over the past year, I think we have all come to recognize the importance of that human component. I value leading with empathy and compassion and building relationships with individual TBI team members. It is also equally important that I am working every day to create an environment where everyone can be comfortable in their own skin, which is something that TBI places great value upon. Helping to make sure that every human being on the TBI team feels included, respected, acknowledged, and seen matters greatly to me.
Together with Bryan Reynolds, I co-chair TBI’s inclusion and diversity committee, Resonate. Resonate strives to enhance and improve the experience of all TBI employees by working to build an equitable, inclusive, and cohesive environment, encouraging and promoting self-awareness and self-education, and recognizing individual contributions and successes. Resonate has TBI executive sponsorship and buy-in, and the leadership team recognizes the importance of offering a safe space where employees can respectfully share their views and opinions, review educational resources, and participate in conversations that lead to positive change and impactful DEI initiatives.
I say it during every TBI new hire employee onboarding that I conduct, and it bears repeating here: One of the best parts about TBI is our company culture, how diligently every single human being at TBI works to foster that sense of TBI family; that feeling of being included and working together towards common goals, of embracing and celebrating our differences. It’s difficult to find a workplace like that.
I will close with one of my favorite quotes: “Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common…celebrate it every day.” (Winston Churchill)
Let’s not only celebrate diversity in April but rather all year long.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As TBI’s Office Manager and Executive Assistant, Ashley is responsible for ensuring that both the Chicago and Portland offices run smoothly, as well as supporting TBI’s executive team, including Geoff Shepstone, President of TBI. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn.