Case Study

Keeping it Real in the Workplace

Within the corridors of a Fortune 100 financial institution beats the heart of a commitment—a commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) that permeates every facet of its operations. Recognizing the importance of fostering a workplace culture where all employees feel valued and respected, the institution had long championed robust DIB programs and policies. However, despite high-profile support from the C-Suite, leaders of DIB found themselves at a crossroads, unsure of how their efforts were resonating with employees. Eager to bridge the gap between intention and impact, they embarked on a journey to uncover the truths and insights that would guide them in their quest to cultivate a culture of inclusion.

The Problem
An F100 financial institution had long recognized the importance of strengthening its commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging – both across its business units and at the leadership level.  And although a robust, well-resourced program had been established years earlier and had recently been given high-profile support from the C-Suite, leaders of DIB were unsure how their efforts were landing with employees.  DIB leadership wanted to learn more about how well the organization’s core values and culture aligned with DIB programs and policies. Moreover, they were keenly interested in what was not resonating with employees – in order to take actions needed to improve workplace culture and increase career opportunities for all employees. 

Our Approach
Because of the complex and sensitive nature of DIB discussions, Southpaw Insights recommended conducting in-depth, one-on-one conversations via Zoom. We interviewed over 140 employees representing a wide range of roles/tenure/levels and different personal identity groups (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and veteran status). Using a diverse team of 9 interviewers, we were able to match our interviewers with the employee profiles to increase their comfort and create conditions for them to candidly share their lived reality with us. The interviews were an hour long, and participants were assured of complete confidentiality. In addition, participants received a high-level summary of the findings both as a thank-you for their involvement and as a confirmation that their voices had been truly heard.

The Solution
We learned that a large majority of employees see their employer’s DIB efforts as well-intentioned and meaningful. But they also said that while their employer has made a good start, a big question remains about meaningful follow-through. Will the DIB efforts move from good intentions to action? They cited numerous specific – and systemic – ways in which the DIB team can improve their current approach and advance DIB in a more holistic, effective way.

Participants in the study were gratified to be asked for their opinions, and the depth and breadth of the study itself was seen as important proof that the company is serious about DIB. The insights we provided helped clarify for leadership how they’ve succeeded, where they’ve missed the mark, and provided actionable ways to make real and immediate changes to fulfill the company’s commitment to furthering DIB.

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