Now more than ever, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is crucial. Hear from LaShandra Sartor, Vice President of Client Experience Ops at Quicken Loans, on tips and best practices for implementing D&I initiatives in the workplace.
Why is it important for businesses of all sizes to be considering Diversity & Inclusion initiatives?
Investing time and resources into Diversity, Equity & Inclusion(DEI) initiatives improves morale and results in greater productivity and increased revenue. Surely these are outcomes any organization, regardless of size, should aspire to achieve consistently. Organizations with highly diverse talent and an inclusive work environment inspire trust, leading to greater retention and heightened engagement from team members and leaders. DEI initiatives give individuals space to express their authentic self, promote diverse hiring practices which lead to greater talent acquisition and create an empowering atmosphere that allows individuals to thrive. By promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive environment, you are paving the way for creativity and innovation that can drive transformational change in your industry.
What advice do you have for businesses to start being more inclusive in the workplace?
Initiate dialogue with your team members on a consistent basis to gain insight about their experience working within the organization. Consider conducting feedback sessions with small groups of individuals (4-10 people) throughout the organization and ask them the questions below. You may be surprised at the dialogue and insight it sparks.
- How would you describe your experience working here?
- What are the tools and resources you need to excel in your career and are they accessible to you?
- Do you feel your voice and opinions matter?
- As your leader, what can I do to better support you?
When you gather feedback, themes may begin to emerge that will provide insight on how you can become more inclusive. As you make changes driven by this feedback, be sure to communicate back to the team. Building a consistent track record for executing on feedback is a powerful trust builder and contributes to an inclusive environment.
Encourage the formation of Team Member Resource Networks (TMRNs). These groups give individuals with common interests and life experiences the opportunity to connect. For example, at Quicken Loans our TMRN focus areas include veteran and women’s networking, multicultural advancement and LGBTQ+. Membership is open to all and TMRNs also provide a great opportunity for allies to get involved and gain a better understanding of how to be supportive partners. Leverage the feedback and insight you receive to broaden perspective and drive organizational change. TMRNs are usually voluntarily led by team members with the support and guidance of senior leaders, so leadership engagement is key to their success.
Look for ways to highlight and celebrate diversity within the workplace. Host cultural events or facilitate activities that are fun, engaging, and educational. Invite team members to contribute to these events and encourage them to participate through storytelling and sharing cultural experiences in an open and safe environment. You can also align these events with nationally recognized days or months. For example, March is designated as Women’s History Month. This would be a great opportunity to highlight powerful women in your organization that are impacting change. It also opens up a platform for them to talk about their life experiences and how it’s shaped their lives both personally and professionally.
What is your perspective on current events and how has it influenced Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace today?
Current events have underscored the importance of having DEI initiatives in the workplace. Over the past year, people have experienced varying levels of pain, uncertainty and frustration. These emotions – heightened by a pandemic, social injustice and a divisive political climate – impact how individuals show up and engage every day. The desire for TMRNs has grown because people are seeking the sense of community they feel was lost in the wake of the pandemic. Drastic shifts in the workplace also required organizations to quickly pivot and re-think how they conduct business while maintaining an inclusive work environment. This is where diverse representation matters because it broadens our perspective and drives us towards innovative solutions that better serve a wider market.
What are some of your favorite resources to share with companies on Diversity & Inclusion?
Investing time to understand our own unconscious bias and blind spots is key. As we gain awareness about ourselves and our biases, we can begin making the connection between how those biases manifest in our decision-making, company culture, hiring practices and overall leadership style. The Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT) is a widely used to tool that sparks such introspection as it relates to unconscious bias. It’s not uncommon for people to be surprised by the results of their IAT – after all, it highlights biases we may not even be aware we have. Whether you agree with the results or not, there’s value in this kind of self-reflection and the impact it can have on diversity and inclusion. Getting curious about the results allows you to gain awareness around judgments you unconsciously make that could be impacting the level of diversity and inclusivity within your organization.
What is your background experience and how has it influenced your leadership with Diversity & Inclusion?
I’ve been with Quicken Loans for 16 years and in leadership for the past 10 years. Prior to becoming a leader, I was a Business Consultant focused on continuous process improvement within the organization. I believe promoting a diverse and inclusive environment is one of the most important responsibilities a leader has. It sets the tone for morale and is directly tied to an organization’s ability to meet the needs of a diverse market and deliver transformational results.