What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to your organization?
Gloria Cotton: At inQUEST, diversity refers to all aspects of any/all human beings, known and unknown, evident and obscure. Equity refers to the resources and support people need to be successful and to feel included that meet the needs of their unique diversity. Inclusion refers to the experience people have in working and being with others and the behaviors that result in them feeling welcome, valued, respected, heard, understood and supported for who they are as human beings, for the job/work they do and how they do it. We want everyone to know they have a right to expect to be seen and heard for who they are, that they add and have the potential to add value, that they’ll feel safe to be themselves when we agree or disagree, and that our supplying the accommodations they need is one of the ways we prove we see and hear them individually, not stereotypically or unrealistically.
Samantha Lewandowski: DEI means acceptance for all who are employed with TAWANI Enterprises, now and in the future. Our staff represents a range of races, nationalities, sexualities, genders, religions and ages, and we value each person coming from a different background with unique experiences. We encourage our staff to use empathy in all work situations to build a stronger, more connected workforce. Jennifer N. Pritzker, our president and CEO, has publicly supported inclusion and anti-discrimination legislation and practices and truly leads by example in creating a welcoming environment for all.
Rheaana Guess: At Delta Dental of Illinois, DEI doesn’t just mean hiring, retaining and promoting diverse talent, it also means creating an environment where employees feel seen, heard, respected, understood and motivated to contribute. We strive to be a safe place where constructive two-way communication and cross-cultural understanding empowers all employees to be authentic. This enables employees to better connect with and understand each other, our clients and those in the community we serve.
Pamela Moore-Thompson: UScellular embraces diversity as one of the foundational values important to our strong culture. We commit daily to openly supporting the individual strengths of each of our associates and valuing the uniqueness of their perspectives. We know that having a diverse workforce across all levels and within all functions of our organization is important to serving customers in our local communities, attracting extraordinary talent and creating a culture that’s inclusive of differing experiences and perspectives.
What’s the biggest challenge your organization faces when seeking to recruit and hire a diverse workforce?
Lewandowski: Our biggest challenge is connecting with a diverse audience. We post openings on a variety of job boards to attract the best talent, rather than relying on one source to bring in prospective candidates. Because we’re a small organization, it can be a challenge competing with larger organizations looking for the same great talent. We try to separate ourselves in the recruiting process by illuminating our core values, generous benefits, entrepreneurial opportunities and a warm and welcoming experience for all applicants.
Moore-Thompson: Many talented employees and candidates have reset their baseline for what they want from an employer. Societal influences, such as COVID-19, have had a significant impact on the labor market. Feedback from current associates, as well as applicants, suggests that flexibility is a high priority, and they feel—and we agree—that flexibility has been earned over the last 18 months.
Guess: Recruiting in the western suburbs, where we have our headquarters, and in the insurance industry in general can be a challenge. Through our DEI work, development programs and benefit offerings, we strive to present candidates a dynamic workplace environment where they can grow and develop. Additionally, we’ve introduced a hybrid/remote work model, which helps attract more diverse talent.
How does your organization promote diversity in recruiting employees?
Moore-Thompson: We focus on communicating the robust benefits that job seekers will experience when becoming a part of our organization. We also have strong relationships with partner organizations that help us access a broad group of diverse talent. We participate in events that attract diverse candidates, recruit through inclusive organizations and diversify our employment advertising to reach talent in local communities. Our equitable recruiting practices include pursuing diverse interview teams, compelling job descriptions aimed at attracting broad groups of interested candidates, and diversity and inclusion training for all leaders of people. We practice continuous improvement and regularly analyze every step of our recruiting process to ensure that we’re appealing to a broad and diverse group of potential candidates.
Guess: We’re very intentional and strategic. We don’t simply post a job and cross our fingers. We target local diverse professional organizations and university groups to make sure we’re connecting directly with our candidates. We find this more focused approach shows potential employees that we’re serious about our commitment to recruiting diverse talent, and more efficient yields result.
Lewandowski: We emphasize education and professional skills. Throughout the interview process, we learn how a candidate wants to add value to our organization, and how we can provide value to their career. We let them know that we invest in our employees by providing them with the tools they need to be successful and promote from within when skills align with an opportunity.