Last year, in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd, there was a massive outpouring of solidarity and condemnation of systemic racism and discrimination. The Black Lives Matter movement dominated headlines and many companies made public statements of support under the #blm hashtag on social media.
Now the dust has settled a little and (to some extent) the topic has been buried under the never-ending torrent of covid-related news.
However, the issue of discrimination still very much needs our ongoing attention and care. Stuart is fully committed to diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and we have launched a company-wide DEI plan along with local DEI committees, affinity groups and a global DEI council. Notably, the UK DEI Committee, our most long-standing and established committee, is made up of ten Stuart employees who meet regularly to discuss DEI issues and take steps to tackle them.
What DEI means
So what do we mean by “DEI issues”? Let’s quickly define each one in turn:
- Diversity refers to the traits that make each of us unique and can include things like race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities, education, beliefs etc. A diverse workplace understands, accepts and values these traits and celebrates the differences between people;
- Equity is about fairness. On understanding an individual’s traits, we learn what their needs are and can support and respect them;
- Inclusion is giving everyone a sense of belonging and is accomplished at work by creating a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation and contribution of all employees.
The purpose of our global DEI plan is to foster a diverse environment of inclusion & belonging by developing inclusive talent processes and diverse leaders to enable employees to deliver results related to our company Mission.
The local committees support the People Team to strengthen and disseminate this mission at a country level.
Stuart has consciously worked for several years to foster a positive and supportive culture. These are formalised in six core values: Start With Humility, Build By Empowerment, Share Through Cooperation, Turn Facts Into Insights, Solve The Problem Right, and Think Outside The Parcel.
The first three of these particularly strongly promote an inclusive culture:
In short, we work together and help each other with respect, acceptance, and humility. This is super-important to us and is the very foundation of how we work as a company.
Upping Our Game (or, stuff we’ve already done)
Building on the company values, we have identified several concrete ways we could promote and address DEI issues at Stuart:
- We started organising monthly initiatives based on the DEI calendar that our HR team put together. This allows us to promote awareness and causes such as Black History Month. In the UK, to the celebrate BHM we were joined virtually by Ben McBean, an inspiring former marine and double amputee injured in Afghanistan. In February, in honour of LGBTQ+ History Month, we were joined by rugby legend and LGBTQ+ activst Gareth Thomas CBE for a frank and open chat about the issues he has experienced as a gay man in the sporting community.
- Internally we have run panels, made up of our own employees, to discuss the challenges they have faced and share their experiences both during Women’s History Month - covering topics such as Women in Leadership - and for Autism Awareness Month. The latter comprised of team members sharing their stories about their experiences through family members and friends, helping educate the team on what autism actually means. Both sessions were extremely powerful and showed how much Stuart’s values are embodied by our teammates.
Talent Acquisition & Development
- We ran training sessions for all employees to learn about DEI and related topics, such as unconscious bias & non-violent communication;
- We implemented holiday “floating” days - 3 UK Bank holidays that can be exchanged are Christmas Day (25th December), Good Friday and Easter Monday.
- And ran workshops to review hiring processes so we can identify bias and mitigate it as much as possible to ensure we attract a diverse range of new employees
- We have launched a sister committee in Spain and are currently building the French equivalent
- We created a global Inclusion Calendar made up of both daily and monthly (both local and global celebrations) related to various social causes, cultures, religions and sustainability topics.
- Regular company-wide surveys with DEI related questions
- We ensured our quarterly employee engagement surveys were updated with relevant questions on DEI topics.
- We started a Stuart book club so the team could enjoy a variety of books spanning across different genres throughout the year. This allowed us to share and learn new perspectives and participate in healthy debate - an essential part of a healthy and inclusive culture!
- Affinity Groups: These are employee-led and facilitated groups formed around backgrounds, identities, and common interests (i.e. Parents @ Stuart, Women @ Stuart). These have helped us to foster a more positive work environment and to ensure our Stuwies feel a sense of inclusiveness and comfort within the Stuart community.
Going The Distance
We’re committed to keeping our DEI efforts moving in 2021 and the committee officers will be working closely with each of the departments to deliver more events, more training & more improvements to our business practices.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT? STAY TUNED
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