How to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace for a Bright Future

By: Laura Sehres, VP, Talent Acquisition and Engagement, PSCU

Achieving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace involves much more than simply starting an HR program. To truly embrace D&I in your company culture, it should be recognized as an integrated pillar of your company’s growth and profitability. This means embedding D&I in all areas of your company’s talent lifecycle and in your overall business practices.

At PSCU, we believe successful D&I strengthens the company by promoting dignity and respect for all employees and fostering an environment in which everyone’s differences are valued. It’s proven that employees are more successful and engaged when they feel their uniqueness and authenticity are embraced at work; this drives innovation and collaboration, and attracts and retains a high-performing workforce.

PSCU’s D&I Steering Committee recently established three key strategic enablers to drive D&I initiatives enterprise-wide:

  • Workplace Inclusion: Inclusion is fostered through cultivating a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility and fairness to enable individuals to contribute to their full potential and further employee retention.
  • Workplace Diversity: Recruiting from a diverse, qualified group of potential applicants to secure a high-performing workforce drawn from all segments of society.
  • Sustainability & Accountability: Structures and strategies are developed to equip leaders with the ability to manage diversity, instill accountability, measure results, refine approaches on the basis of such data, and institutionalize a culture of inclusion.

In addition, PSCU’s growing number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a testament to employee engagement.

Our newly-created ERGs are Juntos, dedicated to empowering Hispanic/LatinX members to reach personal and professional goals; and Voice of Tomorrow (VOT), a forum for engaging talents, interests and ideas of emerging leaders through diversity, personal growth and development to strengthen PSCU and the community. We’re also in the planning stages of forming an ERG for veterans.

These groups join PSCU’s three established ERGs: PSCUnity, a community of LGBTQ employees and allies that foster a respectful and diverse environment to support, connect, educate, advocate and celebrate inclusive practices; Sankofa, an African-American ERG dedicated to building an inclusive network of ethnic professionals within PSCU; and the Susan Adams Gender Equality (SAGE) ERG, dedicated to the professional advancement of women at PSCU and spreading awareness of the value of gender balance to increase business performance.

PSCU also offers a certification program for employees focused on educating and raising awareness of D&I in the workplace. In addition, we launched a training program for PSCU leaders on increasing awareness and knowledge of unconscious bias in employee hiring and management.

What Credit Unions Can Do to Cultivate D&I in the Workplace

Being intentional about incorporating D&I into your operational strategies, regularly keeping a pulse on it and weaving it into all areas of your company, involves taking a close look at where unconscious bias will permeate and can be remediated.

  • Establish a diversity recruiting strategy. Is there a metric involved? For instance, PSCU saw a significant increase in female hiring this past year. In fiscal year 2019, 50% of our VP hires and 14% of our engineering hires were female. In the total U.S. workforce, only 13% of engineers are women. Also, if you partner with a staffing company, it is a good idea to select one that is diversity owned.
  • Restructure your pay practices. Establish a grid pay scale for each position and hire candidates based on experience, not their pay history.
  • Consider starting an ERG. Identify what communities are important to your employees and define the group’s structure, roles, outreach activities, events and partnerships.
  • Identify under-represented groups in different sectors of your company and think about how you can equalize thought leadership for those groups.
  • Consider a D&I training program for employees. When developing these programs, make sure you’re including all voices for the benefit of the affinity.

Just like the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” in serving its members, we should all be committed to D&I in the workplace – of culture, of background, of perspective, of beliefs, of personality and thought – so, as one, we can achieve the greatest outcome.

Laura Sehres is the vice president of Talent Acquisition and Engagement at PSCU and Chair of the PSCU D&I Steering Committee. Having worked in all facets of HR, she has spent the past fifteen years focused exclusively on Talent Acquisition where she has brought innovative strategies to attracting and retaining diverse talent. Her work in D&I at PSCU focuses on creating a community and workplace that is equitable and inclusive while celebrating differences.