Nexa Receptionists launched its Diversity & Inclusion Council in November 2020. Since then, the initiative, which is focused on fostering inclusion and creating awareness and deeper understanding of the diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences within our organization, has implemented purchase policies to intentionally direct spending toward minority-owned businesses, donated more than $2,500 to community organizations, stood up the D&I Forum as an internal employee resource and updated employee surveys to include questions about diversity and inclusion. Read on for a Q&A with Kenya Gillespie, Nexa’s director of strategic business & initiatives and diversity & inclusion council chairperson, to learn more about ways the organization is creating a more inclusive workplace.
Nexa Culture: Emphasizing The Importance Of Diversity In The Workplace
A 2019 report by Harver about the advantages of diversity in the workplace shows that 87 percent of organizations surveyed around the world list “diversity” as either a stated value or priority area for development. The study also found that “inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their field.” And, diverse companies can be up to 35 percent more likely to outperform their competitors.
Organizations that are made-up of diverse perspectives are better able to serve a wider range of customers. When you foster an inclusive workplace and make space for all lived experiences, you create an environment where innovation and creativity flourish. That’s because, according to Harvard Business Review, diverse teams solve problems faster. When you bring together people with different experiences, background and skills, each member is likely to tackle a challenge with their unique ideas and perspectives—presenting more solutions than would otherwise be possible.
But the importance of diversity in the workplace isn’t just about productivity. It’s also about company culture. From a values perspective, inclusion can mean embracing differences, engaging in meaningful (sometimes difficult) conversations and bridging gaps in communication. This can make an incredible difference in talent retention and overall employee morale.
In November 2020, Nexa established its Diversity & Inclusion Council, an initiative focused on fostering inclusion and creating awareness and deeper understanding of the diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences within our organization. In February, the group launched the D&I Forum, an internal site for team members to engage, communicate and learn about various aspects of diversity and inclusion topics.
But this is just the start of the group’s efforts. For the complete rundown, let’s turn to this Q&A with Kenya Gillespie, Nexa’s director of strategic business & initiatives and the diversity & inclusion council chairperson.
How did Nexa’s Diversity & Inclusion Council get its start and what was the motivation behind creating it?
The Diversity & Inclusion Council at Nexa attributes its origin to George Floyd’s unfortunate and untimely death, and the global awakening and conscious realization of racially motivated biases and influences that still exist today, including in the workplace. These biases influence our daily interactions and thought processes. They shape our perceptions and contribute to the perpetuation of systemic racism, racial injustice, inequity and exclusion. George Floyd’s death was so painful, we knew we had to do something! Our nation—and our team members—were hurting.
Our first step was to engage our employees who desired to participate in crucial conversations around the current state of race relations in America. These conversations were poignant, unscripted, thoughtful and transparent. From this came the ideation and subsequent creation of the D&I Council, which works to strategize and implement sustainable initiatives with a heightened focus on meaningful change within our organization and the communities we serve.
As D&I Chairperson, what is your day-to-day role within this group?
My day-to-day role is to be of service in any manner that aligns with furthering our D&I agenda and supporting a culture of acceptance, belonging and inclusion. My daily activities include collaborating with other D&I Council members on their initiatives, making regular content contributions to the D&I Forum, proactively engaging Nexa team members for improvement ideas, overseeing the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Employee Pulse Surveys, and being a watchful eye and listening ear for all things that could have an impact (positive or negative) to the D&I culture we’ve envisioned.
What are 3 key initiatives the D&I Council is working on in 2021?
- Implementing tools to assess and measure Nexa’s culture of diversity and inclusiveness
- Creating a corporate footprint supporting outreach programs for minorities, at-risk youth and the economically disadvantaged
- Purposefully sourcing products and services from minority-owned businesses when available
What is one thing that you personally hope Nexa employees gain from the D&I Council?
I would like for Nexa employees to better understand how various cultures and their experience in America differ from their own. I would also like Nexa employees to understand that diversity and inclusion extends far beyond race. There are other demographics (communities) that we must be cognizant of—those segmented by race is only one.
We must be diligent to not unintentionally exclude in our desire to include. Most importantly, I would like them to embrace our differences, engage in meaningful dialogue and welcome new learning opportunities while building relationships and bridging communication gaps across all demographics, for a better tomorrow.
How will the D&I Council measure success?
In the short-term, success is measured by progress. Every step we take to creating an organizational culture full of diversity, where individuals feel welcomed, supported and equally-considered is progress. We started with a blank slate in November 2020 and within a few months implemented purchase policies to specifically direct our spending toward minority-owned businesses. We donated more than $2,500 to community organizations. We’ve stood up the D&I Council, created the D&I Forum and updated the NPS Survey to include diversity and inclusion questions. In my eyes, we’re already a huge success.
What does equity in the workplace look like to you?
Equity requires intentionality—and purpose. For me personally, equity in its simplest terms means “fair” and “just.” Did I make the right decision for the right reason at the right time? It’s a simple concept. I don’t want to overcomplicate it.