Our Strength Lies in Our Differences

As the Director of Business Administration at Evia, I am responsible for integrating Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as part of our company’s corporate culture. As a member of the Evia leadership team, I work to match our business objectives with our company goals of creating a modern, inclusive workplace.

This past October, I attended the sold-out Annual Diversity & Inclusion Conference held by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Aside from the excitement of flying to one of my favorite cities — San Francisco, I was also eager to immerse myself again in the innovative topics of my undergrad studies in Society, Ethics & Human Behavior while at the University of Washington

Here is a glimpse of some of the topics discussed as well as some of the key words and phrases I walked away with. This list is long and just scratches the surface of what we covered at the conference. In your day-to-day work, do you notice you or your company addressing any of these?

  •  Impact of every day biases
  •  Cultural intelligence
  •  Resilience
  •  Micro-aggressions and micro-inclusions
  •  Worldview
  •  Accommodations
  •  Diversity = innovation and creativity
  •  Transgender inclusivity
  •  Inclusive behaviors
  •  Discrimination
  •  Politics and free speech in the workplace
  •  Organizational belonging
  •  Diversity strategy roadmap
  •  How to create a culture where immigrants thrive
  •  Behaviors impacting conversations
  •  Communication and conflict

I left the conference with many notes, action items, ideas, and inspiration. Here are only a handful I brought back to Evia to consider: giving floating holidays for worldview or cultural holidays; reviewing our non-discriminatory policy to be sure gender identity and expression are included; and realizing how much diversity impacts innovation and creativity. The sessions I attended reemphasized that as a company we want to lead with innovation and creativity, but if we are not diverse, we are holding ourselves back.

By the end of the SHRM event, I felt refreshed and ready to take on the challenges we are faced with at Evia to continue to create a diverse and inclusive culture. Some of the challenges I want to tackle include correcting behavior that is not inclusive, acknowledging biases in a productive way, and creating a strategy that aligns with our business goals — this is doable, but just time consuming with the limited resources growing businesses have.

Here are some initial questions to act on for those of you who are managing and running businesses:

  • What steps are you taking to address these paramount topics?
  • Have you reviewed your mission, vision, and values recently?
  • Are you creating company rituals that are inclusive?
  • Have you adjusted your job descriptions to be more gender neutral?
  • What processes do you have in place to foster collaboration and diverse discussions?
  • Have you done a compensation review & created a plan to close the pay gap between men and women?

I will leave you with this quote that really resonated with me in hopes that it may spark something within you as well:

Each human being, however small or weak, has something to bring to humanity. As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other’s stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgment and prejudice to forgiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart.
— Jean Vanier

I would love to hear how others are or have incorporated Diversity & Inclusion into their companies so please reach out if you’d like to continue this invaluable or conversation: lila.williams@evia.events or @lilajwill