It’s an honor for me to coordinate Graebel’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Council. Increasing the diversity in Graebel’s workplaces around the globe and providing opportunities for all employees to make a difference within our company is a priority for our organization.
The idea for the Council was planted about two years ago in a town hall presentation laying out our three-year plan. A bullet point on diversity programming caught my attention!
That led to lots of conversations with executive team members, specifically our COO, Ron Dunlap, and CHRO, Mary Dymond, to plan Graebel’s D&I efforts. We had the opportunity to visit Quicken Loans and meet with their Director of Diversity and Inclusion to learn more about how they started their efforts and why they were hugely successful.
The informal became formal with a revised diversity policy in 2017, and then this past December our Chairman and CEO, Bill Graebel, announced the formation of the D&I Council. I had offered to coordinate the Council given my passion to support the marginalized and underserved and the similar work I do as an active steering committee member in my children’s school district.
The D&I Council
The mission of the Council is an extension of Graebel’s values of Truth, Love and Integrity.
To be a diverse community achieving inclusive excellence, honoring individual uniqueness and providing equitable access and opportunities for all.
I’m joined on the Council in the U.S. by Emily Augsburger, Jerome Davis, Maggie Madsen and Marta Schilling-Gogain and the team is growing globally. Our executive sponsors include Matt Brownlee and Myrla Marshall. The Council’s commitment to take Graebel to the next level is solid and it’s a pleasure to work with such a talented, caring and thoughtful team.
Diversity and Inclusion
There are very few organizations – large, small, privately held or public – that can’t improve their record in hiring a diverse workforce and improving engagement opportunities for all their employees. These improvements don’t happen on their own. Change requires intentional thought and action by everyone within the organization.
Improving diversity is an important first step. But numbers are numbers. Building teams with demographically diverse faces and identities can be a pretty objective mission.
Inclusion is harder. Ensuring that throughout an organization, every person can meaningfully participate is the bigger challenge. Without inclusion, diversity is a hollow victory.
Jerome Davis brings a unique perspective to the Council. He joined Graebel four years ago after more than twenty years as a U.S. Army Ranger. He’s lived in 11 countries and served in seven deployments. Clearly, Jerome knows diversity! In his view, people tend to live in their own “comfort bubbles,” avoiding the unfamiliar. Within these bubbles, it’s easy to subconsciously act according to biases or pre-conceptions about many things – including people.
The Business Case for Inclusion
Diversity & Inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
When every employee is respected and heard, when every team member feels they have an opportunity to earn advancement within an organization, employees are happier. They’re more engaged and motivated. It’s a win-win.
The Path Forward for Graebel’s D&I Council
Training – Training is the first mission of the Council. Later this year, Graebel University will introduce a new D&I curriculum for all employees.
Go global – Graebel is a global brand, and our global diversity brand should be reflected throughout our offices around the world. The Council is exploring strategies for implementing and integrating our D&I initiatives company-wide and world-wide.
Support each other – There’s a special type of mutual support that can only come from others who walk in the same shoes – in other words, from people who are “similarly different.” The Council is exploring the formation of Employee Resource Groups, intentional spaces for employees to compare experiences, share inclusion strategies and generally support each other.
Here’s the approach we’re taking with the Graebel D&I Council. Uncover, educate and correct.
We recognize discomfort may be a byproduct of this work, and we accept that. A sense of unease, of being pushed outside one’s “comfort bubble,” is normal and expected, as Jerome put it so well. In our future, ideal state, everyone will automatically be attuned to the value and contributions of the person next to them. Our goals are to create awareness and provide tools through education so we’ll be a more inclusive workforce and living what we learn.
It’s no secret that biases exist in all of us. This can be crippling to an organization if unchecked. As we move forward, Graebel will have stronger, more productive teams providing optimal experiences for our internal and external customers!
About the Author:
Valencia Culbreath, CRP GMS, joined Graebel in 2007. In addition to heading the Diversity and Inclusion Council, she serves as Director, Global Account Manager, responsible for ensuring top levels of service for Graebel clients in all aspects of their global relocation activities. Valencia has lived abroad in Germany and Mexico where she studied language. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and remains active in her community supporting equity.