M&E Journal: Our Evolution With Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
Many companies have begun the hard work of recognising imbalances in hiring, development, and leadership based on race, gender, disability, sexuality, and numerous other factors.
Making lasting change requires diligence and hard work, with some industries having more ground to cover than others.
Richey May is no stranger to these challenges, being a firm that operates in financial services, technology and media and entertainment. Financial services has been perceived as a laggard in diversity, equity and inclusion.
At Richey May, we have recognised the importance of fostering diversity across our firm and have been working on our process to design a more inclusive culture.
While we still have work to do, our experience might help others in similar industries to enact meaningful change. Richey May has cultivated an innovative culture that empowers employees to transform our communities with ingenuity and creativity.
After recognising the ways that diversity, equity and inclusion are a challenge for Richey May, a group of passionate individuals formed an internal committee that’s become known as Elevate.
Elevate has grown to be a group within Richey May, led by a cross-functional team devoted to advancing women, minorities and other under-represented groups at the firm, and in the professional advisory and financial services industries.
Through Elevate, Richey May has been able to begin responding to the current needs of our firm, and develop comprehensive plans for change. The Elevate team has worked to enable change for the firm by identifying actions that can be taken immediately, and over the long term. Three key areas of opportunity included education and training, hiring and promotions, and employee programmes.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS
To begin changing the culture and educating the firm about the importance of diversity in our industry and our firm, the Elevate team organised experts to come and speak to employees on various topics.
The first educational series covered unconscious bias awareness, including topics such as “The By-Product of Bias,” “Strategic Application,” and “Sustainable Growth and Accountability.”
Through this series, participants were provided with tools to understand the impact of each other’s behaviours on effective communication, with a focus on avoiding the problems associated with making assumptions. Participants then explored how bias shows up in performance reviews, in giving feedback, and in our everyday meetings and interactions.
The final part of the series helped employees assess their own behaviours and make developmental plans.
The Elevate team also planned events specifically for women, including topics such as “Workplace Allies – Ways that Women Can Champion Each Other at Work,” and brought in experts on the topic.
Additionally, they have hosted training programmes for leadership to help women recognise areas of opportunity and take action to grow in their careers.
Elevate is currently pursuing education and training programmes for normalising diversity and making sure people feel confident and comfortable talking about these issues across the firm openly and honestly.
EVALUATIONS, HIRING AND PROMOTIONS
We saw this come to life in our cybersecurity department as they recognised their team was comprised of only men. Initially, this team had an unconscious bias that there were few women entering the field of cybersecurity, as female candidates applying for open positions were rare.
However, within our own technology group, Richey May’s business intelligence team is nearly an all-women team.
After identifying this disparity, the cybersecurity team leveraged Elevate for recommendations on how to recruit and hire more women, people of colour, and others from more diverse backgrounds.
We discovered there are many opportunities to recruit people through industry groups like MESA, and opportunities to diversify hiring practices by taking an active role in recruiting candidates from new sources.
This programme empowers employees to develop cross-departmental relationships with leadership who they may not typically work with. It’s much more than a mentoring program, designed to create more opportunities across the firm with an advocacy and allyship component.
This creates an environment that allows more employees to have access to roles they may not have otherwise been considered for. And it helps the firm retain top talent throughout their careers.
Not only do these programmes help train and educate the employees of Richey May, they also help to change our culture, and create a sense of community. Community is at the core of Richey May’s culture, for both its employees and its clients. Our leadership team believes diversity, equity and inclusion will become a more integral part of the culture in the future.
We believe other companies seeking to improve their diversity and equity can look at what we have accomplished as inspiration to begin driving impactful change in their own organisations.
Richey May recognises there is no destination with an initiative such as this, and we’ll continue seeking out ways to foster diversity, equity and inclusion across all categories in our firm, to better serve clients and employees at the highest level.
* By Kathy Sealman, Director, Human Resources, Richey May