Learning from the past to impact our future

Learning from the past to impact our future

On May 25, 2020, many people’s paradigms shifted. For many, there was a realization that many people did not have the same experiences as they had. They realized that in some communities, life had handed down some harsh realities that seemed unfair and unjust.  

For others, it was not something new. It was simply a replay of events that had plagued family members, friends, and colleagues in their community for decades and in some cases for centuries. The inequities they had been experiencing were exposed, raw and unfiltered for the world to see.  

While this singular event involved the death of George Floyd, an African American man at the hands of a police officer, it was just a punctuation on events happening across various groups of people worldwide:  The xenophobia and hate crimes inflicted on Asians, the homophobia against the LGBTQ+ community, the disparity and violence against women, the indifference shown to persons with disabilities and Native American and Indigeneous peoples, the isolation of those of different faiths.

Over the last year, we have seen the conversations of diversity and inclusion move from the water coolers, cafeteria tables, and back stairwells, to the offices, conference rooms, and the board rooms. 

Our company is a microcosm of the world around us. The convergence of different beliefs, ideals, and value systems is at an all-time high and the “employee awakening” that has happened forces us to look at ourselves and make change…sustaining, long lasting change.

I believe we have taken a hard look over the past year at our organization, what we were doing well and where we needed to improve and this has shaped our future work in diversity and inclusion.

We had just rolled out the new evolution of the company’s GD&I strategy in January 2020 and were implementing the priorities outlined in the strategy: increasing the representation of employees within the organization, ensuring accountability to drive an inclusive culture, continuing to leverage diversity & inclusion to ensure business value and working to transform the external environment, culture, and business landscape.  The events of last year helped to confirm our belief that diversity and inclusion would be growing in importance over the next few years.

Our company has made continuing strides to ensure we are prepared for the future.  We have taken a close look at the past year and have grown.  

We counteracted the distancing across borders, organizations, and individuals with a focus on inclusion, leveraging the pulse surveys to determine where we needed to focus our efforts for ongoing change.   We introduced Bold, Inclusive Conversations to management teams and employees to ensure that we had a framework for engaging in productive dialogue on issues impacting the workplace.  

We have made collective statements of solidarity and made efforts to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We have become allies to all, joined Employee Business Resource Groups, and worked to understand those who look different from us.

Our leaders focused on capabilities to help them to lead in a much more dynamic work environment with more engaged and empowered employees.

We re-emphasized the need to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion were foundational cornerstones of the company.  We knew that our investors, shareholders, employees were demanding more from companies in the way of social and people responsibility.  

Moving to a virtual environment enabled us to participate in diversity and inclusion events from all over the globe.  We saw employees engaging in webinars, Webex meetings, Microsoft team events, and Zoom calls to learn more about diversity and inclusion.  

We know that this past year has been an unprecedented time of change, but we have taken a hard look at ourselves. We are learning from the past year to mobilize the organization, prolong the passion, and ensure lasting change.