Diversity and Inclusion: One Company’s Journey to Doing Better
It’s no secret that 2020 has changed the world and continues to shape the future of tomorrow. While much of this year will go down in history for things we hope to never experience again, we cannot ignore the efficacious outcome and continued optimism for a better future that has stemmed from these events.
In times of significant disruption, we are forced to change, bending to what may seem like the breaking point only to realize that disruption is exactly what we need to evolve. There is a clear cultural shift in America, which emphasizes the need for diversity and inclusion. It’s gone from something that was talked about to being an expectation that every organization is now building into their operating model.
Today, many companies are having courageous conversations allowing vulnerability to be exposed and used to take action. More and more businesses are starting to see that they can do better, ensuring everyone is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religious beliefs, or any other factor that makes us unique as individuals.
Recently we had the pleasure of hearing from MOI, an interior solutions provider, who is at the forefront of this change and committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Aside from the chaos of COVID, there is much discussion related to equality, inclusion, and diversity in our country, and has been for quite some time. It was the recent escalation of events across our nation that resonated with MOI President, David Noel, and the executive leadership of MOI.
Noel stated, “We saw what was happening and made the conscious decision to take action. We are by no means experts and have not mastered diversity and inclusion yet, but we felt that sharing our journey might help others start the conversation.”
MOI is 100% employee-owned, with four working showrooms, one distribution center, and more than 150 employees. “As a company and a family, we asked ourselves how we can be a part of the solution to end racism and promote diversity. This is where our diversity and inclusion program began” shared Noel.
Diversity and Inclusion Program Development
Many companies at this stage would consider making a donation to one of the many organizations that advocate for a more equitable future, but to MOI, the act of writing a check felt like an empty promise. They wanted to learn more about themselves, and if their current practices were helping or hurting the cause. They knew that by taking small actions, they could make a big difference – and that is precisely what they did.
MOI made a call to form a volunteer diversity and inclusion program representative of each division and department in their organization. The initial call resulted in a 32 member group that was full of passion and ready to take action. From the larger group, they established a leadership committee representative of each market to ensure communication flowed to each area of the business.
Through the use of Microsoft OneNote and Teams, they began to collect ideas and feedback pertaining to what this initiative meant to each individual, what they would like to see change, and what they would like to see honored. This provided a platform to educate themselves on their diversity and a springboard to improve workplace culture.
Once all the ideas were collected, there were several key points that were revealed in the responses leading to the establishment of the initial top three objectives. These objectives included enhancing workplace culture, diversity education, and community outreach. Their goal is to perform one activity in each of these objective areas per quarter. MOI approached this initiative with excitement and fervor, and has been successful in launching and accomplishing their goal thus far.
Objectives, Actions & Initiatives
This is one small step in the direction of understanding their people. MOI also instituted a survey encouraging staff members to share their stories of discrimination either anonymously or not. Sharing these stories has exposed the raw nature of how disparaging acts of discrimination can affect a person. These stories have helped to remove the blinders, creating an atmosphere of support and understanding. They use the hashtag #MOIVoices to educate others about what they face day-to-day.
MOI has found diversity education the most challenging of the objectives. MOI sourced a professional with the help of their HR team to teach employees how to approach these sensitive topics as a group. Obtaining this knowledge created a circle of trust, a sort of safe zone where all are free to express their views without facing judgment. MOI sees this as a crucial step to communicating effectively.
MOI offered suggestions and ideas that companies can quickly implement to encourage diversity and inclusion; some of these include:
Build a calendar
Research holidays and events for underrepresented groups and communicate those events to your staff.
Create a communication channel
This channel can be used to easily share resources, blogs, and educational opportunities.
Partner with local nonprofits
Team up with a local organization that aligns with the mission, vision, and values of your diversity and inclusion program.
Establish a space in your office for mothers to nurse and others to take a wellness break. Providing this space is vital for privacy and mental health.
Take a look at your careers page and make sure the visuals are representative of diversity. Make sure you have language that lets everyone know you are an equal opportunity employer.
Regardless if your company is big or small, your people are your greatest asset, and through diversity you become stronger and more successful. It’s about harnessing the power of our similarities and leveraging the strengths of our differences. Change will not happen overnight, but it is encouraging that so many are starting the conversation and beginning to take action on the journey to a more equitable world.