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Our DEI Journey for a More Inclusive Workplace

The last few months have demonstrated the need for all organizations to reflect on how they can better promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Particularly for Graebel, as a global company dedicated to providing exceptional experiences for people around the world, embracing diversity — in language, age, race, culture, faith, orientation or gender — and connecting with people from all walks of life is necessary to support our mission, vision and values.

Our first action to address our areas of opportunity in being more diverse and inclusive was to establish a director of DEI and promote Valencia Culbreath to the position. In this role, Valencia leads our global DEI Council and the company’s ongoing commitment to foster inclusive behaviors and equitable experiences for everyone, through training, education and client assistance. We’re very happy to have Valencia at the helm of our DEI efforts. Read on below for more from Valencia about our efforts, current and planned, to be a more inclusive company.

—Bill Graebel, Chairman and CEO


I applaud Graebel for recognizing the need to invest more time and effort into its DEI practices and I’m excited to tackle the challenges of my new position. My overarching goal is to eliminate the predictability of access and success based on any one factor (such as race, gender, age) — so that all Graebel employees feel valued and supported; thus creating a strong culture of inclusion. However, my shorter-term goals, for 2020 and 2021, are around education for leaders and addressing inclusivity in recruiting and performance management. To reach those goals, here are a few of the initiatives that are planned:

  • Leadership education and development. Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun working with company leadership on multiple facets of diversity, equity and inclusion. The plan is to support every employee’s knowledge and understanding around these important topics.
    • Leadership team. I’ve been guiding the leadership team through the book “Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify and Stop Microaggressions” by Tiffany Jana and Michael Baran. Through this exercise, Graebel executives are learning how to be more inclusive leaders who can identify and prevent these acts at all levels of the company.
      Extended leaders. The extended leadership team received education on moving from unconscious bias to inclusive behaviors and has also been piloting an inclusive leadership app that covers five categories: recruiting, hiring, leading meetings, team development and performance management. I’m also planning unconscious bias training for our people leaders, related to recruiting and people management. Biases can impact who you recruit and how you choose to groom and mentor employees. Learning to recognize and move past those biases will create a more DEI-friendly workplace.
      All employees. In 2021 and beyond, all employees will have the opportunity to go through similar educational exercises, particularly the unconscious bias training.
  • Expanded DEI Council. Since launching the DEI Council in the U.S. in 2018, we’ve expanded it globally to include 37 members. Within the Council we have regional councils (North America, EMEA and APAC) to address different nuances around the world and cross-regional subcommittees that will tackle issues such as talent management, including recruiting, training and development; mentoring, such as growth and promotion; continuous education, community and activities; and marketing. Moving forward, you can expect regular memos keeping you updated on the Council’s efforts and initiatives.
  • Mentorship program. Myrla Marshall, SVP Transportation Services – Americas, runs a mentorship program for newly promoted employees, to discuss matters that pertain to their new leadership positions. In October I’ll be working with the group to share more about DEI, including what it is, why it matters and how it ties to their new positions.
  • External efforts. We’ll also be working with our supplier partners and clients to promote an inclusive experience throughout the entire relocation experience. In October I’ll be speaking at the Graebel Partner Alliance conference to discuss what DEI means to Graebel and how our supplier partners can be in alignment with us as we journey toward a more inclusive experience for all assignees. Plus, in 2021 I’ll be partnering with the mobility strategy team to review clients’ policies for inclusive language as well as to ensure inclusive and equitable best practices. We will also look at their mobility program from start-to-finish to ensure DEI is integrated into the hiring/selection process, benefits and the overall strategy. We often find that there are some significant gaps that preclude many diverse candidates from being selected, as well as lacking the ongoing support needed for an assignment to succeed. In partnership with our clients’ DEI leadership, we can make recommendations that specifically align with the company’s principles and programs.

We have a lot of work ahead of us as an organization to meet our DEI goals. But by working together, we can identify the gaps and opportunities to dismantle the systems and structures that can create barriers and hurdles for non-dominant groups — and to achieve our goal of a truly inclusive and equitable workplace.


About the Author

Valencia joined Graebel in 2007 and now leads company-wide efforts to educate, coach and lead global transformation in the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) space as a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE®). In addition, Valencia chairs Graebel’s Global DEI Council and recently expanded her team by appointing regional DEI leaders in EMEA, APAC and the Americas to better serve the needs of those in each area. Leveraging her extensive account management experience in talent mobility, Valencia supports current clients, prospects and supplier partners in developing more accessible and inclusive employee experiences. Valencia holds both the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP®) and Global Mobility Specialist (GMS®) designations from the Worldwide ERC®. Valencia is an executive board member for her local school district’s foundation ensuring equitable access and opportunity for every student. She also serves in an advisory role in support of the school district’s goal around equity and inclusiveness by holding the district accountable for interrupting the predictable and unfavorable experiences for the marginalized and underrepresented populations across the district. Valencia is a proven advocate for equity and inclusion, both at work and in her community.

Profile Photo of Valencia Culbreath