5 Takeaways from ELFA’s Webinar on Building Inclusive Workplaces

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association recently hosted a webinar titled, “Building Inclusive Workplaces: You’ve successfully recruited a diverse workforce, now what?” This webinar focused on an exploration of diversity, equity and inclusion principles and ways to champion initiatives to drive positive change.

The webinar’s presenters were:

  • Scott Thacker, CPA, CLFP, CEO of Ivory Consulting and Chair of the ELFA’s Equity Committee
  • Christopher Johnson, Senior Vice President and President of Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services
  • Moto Tohda, CLFP, Vice President of Information Systems at Tokyo Century (USA)
  • Amy Weum, Regional Vice President at Farm Credit Leasing
  • Eboni Preston-Laurent, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the ELFA

Each presenter shared expert insights and effective strategies for implementing and sustaining inclusive practices in the workplace.

“The panelists’ excellent suggestions and creative ideas around building inclusive workplaces are inspiring and thought-provoking, and illustrate that DEI should be a priority for all businesses which desire to outperform their peers,” Thacker said. “I encourage everyone — whether or not you have experience in DEI or believe in the benefits of DEI — to watch the webinar recording as a primer to building a DEI culture and to access the range of free resources ELFA and the Equity Committee provide to assist you in your journey. I also urge everyone to attend our upcoming second annual Equity Forum to learn from many guest speakers experienced in DEI and to interact and share ideas in a safe space.”

More than 100 industry professionals participated in the Aug. 30 webinar, which examined the far reaching and positive benefits of DE&I throughout the organization. Highlights of the webinar included:

  • Organizational impacts. Efficiency, profitability and engagement all increase in an environment dedicated to DE&I. Having people from diverse walks of life and perspectives working on a business problem or opportunity helps to create greater efficiencies by rethinking the status quo and developing solutions in new ways. It enables greater speed to identify and manage issues, and creates richer discourse for more effective responses. Employee satisfaction is higher, and motivated employees contribute more when there is open dialogue and an inclusive culture. A culture of DE&I also enhances recruitment and enables companies to attract higher caliber talent.
  • Initial steps. Organizations starting on the path to adopting a culture of DE&I will sometimes attempt to take on too much and exceed what their ability, time and budget allow. Instead, organizations should start small, create tangible goals and celebrate successes. For example, select three to five initiatives, including low hanging fruit that can be attained right away and others that can reasonably be achieved in year one. Assign people with accountability for those goals, meet regularly to share updates and take time to reflect and share successes throughout the company. This allows for people to talk about DE&I in a meaningful, intentional way and share in the process.
  • Ongoing formal training. Continuing the conversation with an organization’s teams, whether monthly or quarterly, allows an organization to realign and establish its core values and commitment to inclusion throughout the year. This can be facilitated internally or by a diversity trainer. Given the current cultural sensitivity around DE&I, it’s equally important to raise cultural awareness and education of DE&I in a more informal, light-hearted way. Consider monthly lunch-and-learns around topical events such as Disability Awareness Month or a religious holiday like Holi, or create opportunities where employees feel free to share their experiences with disabilities, such as ADHD or dyslexia. Bringing someone in — or someone on staff — to talk about their experience can be very impactful.
  • Employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups of shared characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle or career path (women’s, pride, veteran, Hispanic, ally, young professional, etc.) that support an organization’s DE&I goals. These groups should be easily accessible, available on your company’s website and easy to join. They should form a mission statement and have a senior leader to reinforce top-down participation, commitment and core focus. ERGs are a great way to keep people involved on an ongoing basis with programming and special events like community service projects, holiday commemorations and book clubs. Slack channels are an effective way to keep people connected with their particular interests.
  • Learning curve. Everyone is on their own personal journey with DE&I, and part of the experience is making mistakes. People bring different opinions and perspectives, so they may not know the appropriate word choices or pronouns, and culture is always evolving. Be open to learning from each other, acknowledge offenses and move forward. Remember that we’re all in this together and we’re supporting each other.

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