What does diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) mean to you? Everyone is talking about it but why does it matter and how do you launch a DE&I survey?
Often when we hear about successful DE&I programmes, we learn from large multi-national private companies or professional services firms with an already strong culture, a highly internationalised and mobile workforce and employees who are overwhelmingly classed as white-collar.
Well in this Oven-Ready HR episode, I wanted to explore a successful DE&I Climate Survey programme in a completely different sort of organisation; publicly owned, an overwhelmingly blue-collar and unionised workforce classed as ‘essential workers’; two thirds of whom already come from an ethnic-minority background and who often work all day in complete isolation. Adding to the complexity, this DE&I programme was run during the George Floyd protests and a global pandemic.
The Southeastern Pennslyvannia Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is one of the largest and most complex US rapid transit systems providing public transportation services for some 4 million people in and around Philadelphia. It employs some 9,000 employees.
Joining me to discuss how and why this DE&I research project was created and delivered during such a difficult time are the projects two leads; Jacqueline Hopkins who was then SEPTA’s executive responsible for diversity, inclusion and employee relations and Dr Fiona Jamison, CEO of Spring International, a Philadelphia based women-owned research analytics and consulting firm. Spring International helps organisations throughout the US and internationally build better workplaces and enhance the employee experience ultimately of course to drive business performance.
What you’ll discover in this Oven-Ready HR Podcast episode:
- How the project team managed the communications surrounding the survey to a workforce who overwhelmingly were frontline workers without access to email;
- How the project highlighted the communications gulf between the corporate and frontline workers and how easy it is to communicate to a head-office team compared to those working on the frontline;
- Why SEPTA felt impelled to run this project despite the serious protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd and the Covid pandemic;
- Why SEPTA created an advisory council to help with diversity, equity and belonging;
- The importance of using anonymity to overcome fear, cynicism and mistrust with leadership;
- Why it’s important to involve other stakeholders such as unions to help promote and deliver DE&I surveys; and
- The importance of following up the survey results.