Updated: Jun 5
Since members of the leadership team at Rehrig Pacific Company began their Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging work, many milestones along their 2-year journey of Belonging have transformed the company from the C-suite to the frontlines as an exemplary client.
After George Floyd’s murder, they wanted to understand the experience of Black employees and how well the company was doing with having Black employees feel seen. The question of why they were really not moving the needle in DEI work was critical. There was work on unconscious bias, etc. but still things didn’t seem to change. In general, it is still a common practice that the C-suite decides it’s important work to do and then turns it over to HR to get it done. But if the C-suite doesn’t engage in the journey and model the way, then they aren’t going to make any real change. If members of the C-suite can’t be vulnerable, then no one else will be either. It is important for everyone at the table to be vulnerable, including the consultant.
Working on trust and being authentic with each other in the C-suite needs to be done, not to change people, but to accelerate awareness and change culture. And this is not really just about dealing with sensitive topics, but with anything we are working on together. It allows us to move faster because of trust and authenticity. In particular as a CEO, one can’t just stand on the sidelines.
When people feel like they belong somewhere, they can deal better with uncertainty and the unknown. It’s always amazing to see how much talent has always been in a company that was NOT seen. According to my clients, the rewards of this work are hard to put into words, both personally and professionally, but deeply rewarding on both levels.