At Holler we recently hosted a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) half-day virtual offsite for all employees, dedicated to learning and improving our own DIB impact. Our goal for the offsite was to improve employees’ DIB awareness as well as their ability to take action. Our theme for the day was “Be Part of the Solution.”
We wanted everyone to understand that we all have the ability to make a difference - at a personal and company level as well as at an industry and community level.
To create a meaningful learning experience for our employees, we partnered with Boston-based startup Electives.io, a company dedicated to creating safe learning environments with unique subject matter experts who facilitate thoughtful conversations with employees. Based on our goals, the Electives team curated an amazing and diverse faculty for our team:
- Monica Livingston - former professional football player and founder of a school in Washington, D.C. for incarcerated youth
- Anika Orrock - author of The Incredible Women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
- AK Ikwaukor - former professional athlete, entrepreneur, and corporate trainer
- Syndee Winters - Broadway Performer (Hamilton, Motown the Musical, Lion King)
Collectively, the curated group of Electives teachers delivered an engaging workshop on implicit bias with all employees followed by teacher-led small group breakout conversations on Gender Equity, Racial Equity, and LGBTQ+ rights and allyship. We closed the day with a musical performance to celebrate the collective learning.
One of our employees shared, “Hearing the stories of not only the speakers but also of our colleagues at Holler has had a profound impact on me. I knew these issues existed but to hear how it’s impacted the lives of your colleagues and friends showcases how far we have to come from an entirely different lens.”
Did the virtual offsite accomplish our goals?
Yes, and more!
Before the session, we asked every employee to complete a baseline capacity assessment: five questions focused on DIB awareness and five questions focused on DIB action. We’re proud to share that after the virtual offsite, all ten assessment questions improved!
On the awareness front, as an example, our employees consideration on how they can be useful to historically marginalized communities improved from 69% agreement to 96%:
As it relates to capacity to take action, our employees learned new tools and strategies to overcome their fear of being uncomfortable to act and gained the confidence to stand up against injustice.
We are thrilled to see the needle move across the board and cannot wait to continue building off this momentum.
Two days after our DIB retreat, our employees reflected on the offsite learning experiences in small group sessions. Each person shared their takeaways from the sessions and what action they would take as an individual to create meaningful change in the space. Here are three example of our employees’ commitments that we hope will inspire other employees to do the same:
“With my new understanding of what I can do to make an impact I’m ready to move from learning about systemic barriers that exist and move to action. I’m committed to finding an organization that I can partner with and build a lasting relationship with.”
“I think what most stood out to me is how powerful a safe space can be for sharing stories and experiences. And how as an organization this is what we should always be striving to uphold and we shouldn't be afraid to challenge anything that comprises this.”
Our next areas of focus from a learning perspective are ethnic and religious minorities and a deeper dive on Microaggressions.
Our goal at Holler has been and continues to be to lead by example as it relates to improving Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. To us, DIB is not a “check the box” item. DIB must be a fabric within our company culture and we must give employees the ability to lead with inclusive values inside and outside the office.
It was important for us to pause as a team and spend a dedicated half day together in conversation and reflection. When we know better, we do better. And our employees have improved their empathy, they are inspired to make changes, and more people on our team now have a stronger ability to make an impact.
To spread our learnings, we’ll close with one of our favorite lines from the day: “What's said at the offsite stays here. What's learned at the offsite leaves here…”