What does it mean to be proactive and purposeful about diversity and inclusion? This is a question we’ve challenged ourselves to reflect on this past month. Lucas Group has always been defined by a strong company culture of respect and coworker camaraderie. On paper, our workforce is diverse, representing a range of human differences including – but not limited to – race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender identity, sexual orientation and ability.
As we’ve taken time to reflect, however, we’ve been confronted with an uncomfortable truth: we have achieved “diversity by accident,” and this is woefully insufficient. We must be proactive and purposeful in our approach to diversity and inclusion, creating an environment where every employee is afforded the same rights and opportunities, where every employee feels their voice is reflected in decision-making, and where every employee feels comfortable being their authentic self in the workplace.
Towards an Active and Purposeful Approach to Diversity & Inclusion
We think of ourselves as “one Lucas Group.” Across our different practice groups and branch offices, we are one team committed to transforming lives. But this mindset only tells part of our story. To be the strongest Lucas Group, we must also embrace and celebrate the unique identities of our team members. We are strong not only because a common mission unites us, but also because of our diversity. And we are strongest when every employee feels authentically included.
As recruiters, we have a unique responsibility to engage in social dialogue. From our approach to recruiting top talent for our clients to our own internal hiring practices, we must be the change we want to see in the world. This starts with doing the hard work of examining our own culture building.
These are three steps we are taking to build a more diverse and inclusive culture– and we’re sharing these publically because we are committed to progress and accountability.
- Listen: CEO roundtable and skip-level meetings.
You can’t improve what you don’t know. While we have done baseline diversity training in the past, we can do much better. This month, our leadership team is sitting down with Associates at every level to hear their daily reality in their own words. What is it like being part of the LGBTQ community at Lucas Group? What is it like being a working mother or a single parent? What is it like for you to be Black, Latinx or Asian at Lucas Group?As part of these conversations, we’re also exploring decision-making drivers, which is a key indicator of workplace inclusion. If you would like to bring a similar listening strategy to your workplace, consider using these questions as conversation thought-starters:
- How satisfied are you with how decisions are made?
- Do you feel included in decisions that affect your work?
- Do you feel perspectives like yours are included in decision-making at our company?
- Educate: Unconscious bias training to improve fairness, decision-making and voice in the workplace.
Creating a diverse and inclusive work environment takes much more than eliminating overt acts of discrimination, like hate speech. To truly be inclusive, we must do the hard work of unconscious bias education.Research consistently finds that employee experiences in the workplace are unequal, especially at the intersection of multiple identities, such as gender, race and sexual orientation. This is because the workplace continues to be a manifestation of unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are learned social stereotypes that run contrary to our conscious values yet profoundly impact our attitudes and beliefs– without us even realizing it. These biases impact perceived fairness, decision-making and the power of our voice in the workplace. Culture Amp’s 2019 “Workplace Diversity, Inclusion and Intersectionality” report defines these three criteria as follows:
- Fairness: People from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to succeed.
- Decision-making: Perspectives like mine are included in the decision-making at my company
- Voice: I can voice a contrary opinion without fear of negative consequences.
Unconscious bias training is an important first step towards fostering a more inclusive workplace, one where all our employees can truthfully agree with these statements.
- Amplify: Use our voice to uplift others.
At Lucas Group, we have always been open in our support for diversity internally, but we have not always been publically vocal. We’re evolving our approach to serve as an ally who amplifies the voices of our Associates. We are also using our platform to speak up about our values. When businesses are silent on a critical social issue, there is an assumption that this issue does not matter to the organization, or that the business is too afraid to “say the wrong thing” so the easier choice is to remain silent. We’re committed to showing up and speaking up, today and every day.
These three steps are just a start. Diversity and inclusion must become a practice woven into the fabric of our culture, not a one-off initiative or a checkmark on a corporate to-do list. Our team is putting together an action plan for the coming year with ongoing opportunities for employee education, engagement and community action.
Lucas Group is not an island. Our employees lead vibrant lives at the intersection of multiple identities, and building an inclusive company culture means taking a purposeful and proactive role in our communities. From company-wide volunteer days to internship programs with diversity college career centers, how we show up in our community matters.
As we shared on Juneteenth, let us reflect on the experiences that have given us scars, made us whole, filled us with regret and taught us purpose. As history continues to be defined, let us embrace change, seek to gain understanding, and help create the fabric of equality for us all. Let us not be overwhelmed by the task at hand but instead move forward with a renewed sense of intention, purpose and action.