Culture

Putting DEI into Action: Moving from Intention to Action

By Ariffa Bevin on February 17, 2021
Team Unite Us

At Unite Us, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) drives the work we do and the impact we make. DEI is reflected in our products, our team members, and our intentional hiring approach of recruiting directly from the communities we serve with the ultimate goal of creating a representative team. Therefore, our commitment to DEI as an organization is a natural progression that strongly ties to sustainable change, driven by intentional strategies that impact our team, community, and partners.

 

Before DEI became a corporate buzz phrase, the small but mighty Unite Us team had an action-planned dialogue at our December 2019 summit about creating and sustaining an ethical workplace culture. This initial discussion led to the birth of our internal DEI committee and company definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of our formal commitment to DEI, we recognized that we needed to define these terms by viewing them as verbs and questioning the impact, intention, and reach we wanted. Our definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion reflect just that.

 

Initiatives in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

With a clear “why” established for our platform and team members to reflect our commitment to DEI, we moved on to define the “how.” How will we embed a DEI lens across all departments and include it in conversations with partners, team members, and even career candidates?

Internal cross-function committees

With the establishment of a DEI steering committee and cross-department sub-committees we have put our intention to work: mobilizing our team, focusing on impact. 

We focus on: 

  • Driving government policies to mitigate health disparities and support health equity in communities. 
  • Working closely with our People Operations team to ensure that internal HR policies and procedures are equitable.
  • Enhancing our community engagement strategies and approaches – ensuring that we are conducting these efforts with an equitable and inclusive lens. 
  • Establishing leadership roles on our team dedicated to DEI, including our new Director of Tribal Affairs and DEI Manager.

 

Workshops and trainings

Continuous learning is critical to any DEI effort and is core to our commitment. At Unite Us, we offer internal workshops and trainings to meet team members where they are on their DEI journeys and emphasize Unite Us’ expectations of how we treat one another and others outside of our organization. When deciding on workshops and trainings, we ask our team for feedback on what they are most interested in learning. We bring in speakers who represent different races and cultures and work to understand how these sessions can support the work we do in communities. Workshops are not only held on a regular basis, but the same or similar topics are discussed periodically with new approaches. We have also learned that post-workshop conversations summarizing the team’s learnings and action steps is vital for successful implementation and impact. Former and upcoming workshop topics include race and historical trauma, sex and gender identity, body size inclusion, disability inclusion, microaggressions in the workplace, and much more.

 

Book club

Courageous conversations should be at the center of any DEI effort. Our team coordinates a quarterly DEI book club as an opportunity to discuss experiences that are both shared and educational, which replenish our energy and help us work better together as a team. And who doesn’t love a book club? Our DEI book club includes genres and authors representing several aspects of diversity that includes race, ethnicity, religion, gender, culture, and more. So far, we’ve reviewed lyric poetry on race relations in the US, a nonfiction account of the history of racial segregation, a fresh take on children’s fairytales that incorporated magical realism, and short stories that covered contemporary Chinese and Chinese American experiences. 

 

Defining Success

Strategic communication and tracking progress

We have learned that several key factors define the measure of success in these initiatives. The first is how well DEI-related information, updates, and changes are communicated and implemented throughout the organization – is our team feeling an impact? DEI focus and initiatives are embedded throughout Unite Us from the executive team to all departments defining our culture and values in the workplace.

 

Feedback loops

Our regular anonymous pulse surveys provide a consistent opportunity to gauge and measure how our team is feeling when it comes to inclusion and mental health. The results are then used to identify gaps and opportunities in our offerings. The goal of enhancing inclusion and psychological safety will expand to Unite Us employee resource groups this year and next.

 

Intentional recruiting practices and procedures have been implemented in our recruiting team to increase the representation of our team members across all levels within Unite Us. Effective this year, each department has their own DEI-specific goal that all link to our organizational-wide DEI metrics. At Unite Us, team members who identify as non-white represent 39% of our organization as of January 2021. Success for us in this context is to not only have Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) represent 42% of Unite Us by 2022, but to also achieve parity across all levels of management in 2022 by increased representation of BIPOC team members in mid-level and executive-level positions. We want to continue to hire a diverse team and ensure they have the opportunity to grow within Unite Us.

 

Unite Us' Current BIPOC Representation
Graphs for Uniteus-01-1

 

Gender Representation over Time

Graphs for Uniteus-02-1

 

Accountability and transparency

At Unite Us, we acknowledge that true impact and change in DEI-related efforts must be consistent in order to make a difference. Although our representation of BIPOC team members and women are above tech industry standards as noted in diversityreports.org, it’s crucial to recognize that this work and the impact we aim to make must be an ongoing process. We commit to maintaining transparency on our employment demographics as a way to hold ourselves accountable – we acknowledge we are not perfect, but we want to continue to have open, honest conversations and support our team's growth, in and outside of Unite Us.

 

Our team and partnerships throughout the United States continue to expand, so our conversations and efforts in DEI must also progress, grow, and continue with the intention for team members of various backgrounds to be represented at all levels throughout Unite Us. This work is driven by intention: the intention to continually go beyond what's expected and rise above the norm.

 

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