Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, at Aspida
As it should always have been, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is becoming a mainstay in business culture to not only connect with employees and their individual needs, but also to stay competitive with recruiting and ensuring a wide and diverse set of in-house talent.
At Aspida, we have made DEI a priority and a prominent piece of our culture. DISC, our Diversity and Inclusion Steering Council, was an idea long in the making. Officially established in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and spurred on by the active social unrest at that time, DISC operates with a governing body of 11 board members and 30+ additional employees on the committee.
Its mission is threefold: to educate employees on life experiences to raise the level of consciousness regarding diverse perspectives; to attract, develop, and retain the best talent; and to encourage innovation in pursuit of the company’s mission.
In a few short months, DISC has implemented several initiatives to create a more inclusive environment and a safe space to both educate and discuss tough issues.
- Coffee in the Clouds: A bi-weekly informal check-in for people to come together, drink their coffee, and discuss current events in our community and our world.
- Drinks and Diversity: Similarly, this is a bi-weekly check-in to discuss current events, but takes place at the end of the workday, and often includes a refreshing beverage.
- Let’s Talk About It: This session meets monthly and focuses on a piece of media that attendees are expected to have digested before they arrive. It might be a book, a TED Talk, or an article. After a brief introduction to the larger group, attendees are split into breakout rooms to discuss more specifics about the media, share their perspectives, and learn from one another before coming back for the last few minutes of the hour to compare discussion trends and share insights.
- Communications Program: Our DISC team also regularly creates content to highlight community and national celebrations, such as Junteenth, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, International Women’s Day, and much more.
“There has never been a more important time in our company’s and our nation’s history to bring enlightenment and work towards change for the better,” said Dwan Tabor, co-founder and leader of DISC. “I didn’t want to just be involved, I wanted to lead this initiative. As a woman of color, and as the Director of Learning and Development, I felt I could bring a lot to the table. DISC is the perfect resource group to spark curiosity around issues that impact marginalized groups, to celebrate the underrepresented, and to foster a collective DEI growth mindset.”
Brandon Mitchell, VP and Associate General Counsel, co-founded DISC with Ms. Tabor. “The work we’re doing is not only beneficial to the company, it’s necessary. It allows us to attract and retain the right talent, get more diverse perspectives as we build products, and interact more meaningfully with our community.”
In fact, according to a white paper published by O.C. Tanner, Gen Z makes up roughly 1/3 of the workforce, and it’s the most diverse generation in the U.S. Employees in this generation are highly connected to social issues and want to make a difference in their jobs as opposed to climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, 30% of Gen Z employees would take a 10%–20% pay cut to work for a cause they care about. They also, surprisingly, crave in-person connection and want to feel they belong. Check out how Gen Z compares to the previous generations:
And it’s not just all about talent. According to a McKinsey & Young report from 2019 entitled “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters,” the analyses finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21 percent in 2017 and 15 percent in 2014.
“Throughout the rest of 2021 and into the coming years, I would like to see our DISC program grow and incorporate even more activities,” says Ms. Tabor. “I am also looking forward to reviewing and analyzing the metrics we’ve collected, not only to confirm what I already know – that DEI programs in corporate settings make a positive difference – but to measure just how effective we’re being at Aspida. From there we can chart the appropriate course for the future of DISC. ”