By Elena Sprick, Secretary of DEI Team
Diversity has always been important to HHS. It’s one of our company values, and it’s reflected in our people. We’ve always had a strong internal philosophy of promoting from within, and throughout our history, we’ve seen countless individuals successfully move from hourly positions to management.
Over the past year, we’ve taken a hard look at our company practices to see what we’ve done well, and where we could be doing better. The social uprising in Summer 2020 created a stark reflection point. We realized that we needed to do more to foster an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to create a space where all individuals felt a sense of belonging and support.
This is not something that we can change overnight. The road to true equity and inclusion is long and filled with bumps. We created a DEI Team, comprised of a variety of HHS team members from all walks of life, to guide our efforts.
After careful evaluation by the team, we’ve found a few key areas to focus on to set our foundation. These four points will help HHS, and any company starting down this path, to pave the way for real, meaningful change.
Measure Your Success
When we formed the DEI Team, one of the first questions we asked ourselves was, “How will we know if we’re successful?” Measuring diversity is fairly straightforward, but the ideas and feelings of equity and inclusion are much less visible.
We decided to create a company survey to get the opinions of all HHS team members. We’re asking questions such as “Do you feel like you belong at HHS?” and “Do you see HHS as a place where you can grow and succeed?”
By looking at the responses to these questions by demographic, we can see where we’re succeeding and where we need to step up our game. We’ll plan to repeat this survey on a yearly basis so we can compare our progress year over year to ensure we’re making an impact.
Educate the Team
Though we have big ideas and ambitious goals, we realize that we have to start small. Before we can work on creating any culture changes, we have to ensure our team understands what the issues are and how they can help.
We’re starting off by providing education for all team members on some essential terminology and issues, such as unconscious bias, microaggressions, and diversity in the workplace. Once we have a good base in this area, we can work on building an environment that fosters belonging and allows team members to be their true, authentic selves.
Get Leadership Buy-In
The only way our DEI efforts will be successful is if our leadership is on board with our goals. This includes our operations leaders as well as department leaders, specifically human resources, leadership and development, and risk and compliance.
When these leaders have a good understanding and are in agreement with our goals, we can ensure that our DEI philosophy will be woven into all new and existing programs, policies, and practices. To be successful, we can’t only have “DEI initiatives,” our philosophy has to be involved in every aspect of what we do.
Share Your Progress
One of our first steps is to make sure everyone in the company is aware of what we’re working on. We started by creating a page on our company intranet where employees can access DEI updates. The page includes key DEI definitions, our company DEI statement, our overarching goals, information about the DEI Team, and more.
As we make progress we will update the page, and we’ll also share important updates on other communication platforms, such as in our company newsletter and on our electronic message boards. Additionally, we’re developing information for our website so that we can share our progress with the public and specifically with candidates who may want to know how HHS will support them as an individual.
These four key ideas will allow us to build a strong foundation to build on. We know that we’ll have some ups and downs, but with a continued focus on our goal of making HHS a great place to work for everyone, we’re confident we’ll see progress.