Closing the gap: Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Over the course of my career as a people leader, I’ve found that a diverse workforce is critical to bringing a corporate purpose and its values to life—for every employee, across every office, every single day.

Most would agree that it simply stands to reason that corporations should build a workforce that reflects the diversity of the markets in which they do business.  Furthermore, I would suggest that corporations have a fiscal responsibility to embed diversity and inclusion throughout their organizations, because time and time again, diverse organizations prove to perform better.

In Diversity Matters, McKinsey & Company found that more diverse companies “are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction and decision making, which leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns, bringing a level of competitive advantage to those companies that can attract and retain diverse talent.” In fact, gender-diverse companies are 15 percent more likely – and ethnically-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely – to see “financial performance above the national industry median.”

At Softchoice, we have committed to providing an engaging and inclusive environment where every employee can bring their whole self to work. Our results have been positive, but we have learned that diversity and inclusion is a work-in-progress, and we know we can do better. In our annual 2017 employee survey, administered by the Great Place to Work Institute, questions specifically related to diversity and inclusion were some of the highest scoring on the survey:

  • 95% agreed “People here are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation.”
  • 94% agreed “People here are treated fairly regardless of their race or ethnicity.”
  • 91% agreed “People here are treated fairly regardless of their sex.”
  • 86% agreed “I can be myself around here.”

When we compared responses from employees of different genders or demographics to the same questions (for example, men vs. women), however, some disparities emerged. This, along with our more recent pulse survey, tells us that we still have work to do.

Here at Softchoice, we have an employee-led diversity and inclusion steering committee, ONEsoftchoice, along with a number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to work with senior leadership to promote the inclusion of all employees, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, religion or cultural background. I have the pleasure to co-executive sponsor ONEsoftchoice, along with Maria Odoardi, our vice president of Operations. It was these types of committees that drew me to Softchoice, as they were strong evidence of an organization that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) and that encourages its employees to unleash their potential by being actively involved in an environment that is supportive.

While our People and Growth team will continue to develop strategies and evolve our recruitment, hiring and training practices through a D&I lens, our ERGs will take the lead on engaging employees through networking, mentoring and providing access to external speakers to strengthen our culture of inclusion. Some of our upcoming ERG initiatives will include:

  • Women in IT Hackathon: For its third year, our Leading Women ERG will welcome female employees, customers, partners and students for a day of innovation and collaboration.
  • Virtual panel calls: Just like our International Women’s Day’s event earlier this year, we will host a company-wide Skype discussion panel in May to hear from organizations who support the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Mentoring programs: Our Leading Women ERG mentoring program connects female employees with senior management.
  • Engaging D&I champions on the ONEsoftchoice committee and ERGs: we will continue to leverage our employees’ experiences and passion for promoting inclusion and social impact throughout the organization.

LinkedIn Talent Solutions reports that “today, diversity is directly tied to company culture and financial performance. Also, “78 percent of companies prioritize diversity to improve culture and 62 percent do so to boost financial performance.” The values-driven work we do at Softchoice to create better communities internally and externally—through employee volunteering, community investments, charitable partnerships and diversity and inclusion—is one of the most important ways we’re working to create a powerful, differentiated culture.

Interested in joining a community of professionals making an impact every single day? Visit our Careers page at www.softchoice.com/careers to find exciting career opportunities across North America at Softchoice.

About Kelly Breedon

Kelly is Softchoice's Senior Vice President of People & Growth. A seasoned human resources executive with over 25 years of experience, Kelly is responsible for talent management, recruitment and retention, organizational development and design, employee engagement, performance initiatives and compensation programs.