Under a LGBT Pride Flag, taken at Exeter Pride Parade, public event.

If you ask our CEO, Jeffrey Brown, he’ll tell you that “if we take care of the culture, everything else will take care of itself.”

And the research we’re looking at proves this – Kris Boesch, founder and CEO of Choose People and author of Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace, shared that businesses with a dedicated focus on culture experience 26 percent fewer mistakes, 22 percent higher productivity, 41 percent lower absenteeism, and 30 percent stronger customer satisfaction.

The importance of establishing a welcoming environment for a diverse staff simply can’t be overstated. In a recent episode of Your Cheddar, our Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Early Talent Programs, Reggie Willis, discussed this topic and said “If we can create an inclusive environment and celebrate people’s differences, that diversity will come. It’s about making sure people can be their authentic selves, they feel safe coming into the workplace.”

The way we see it, if we create an environment where people are encouraged to share their ideas, knowledge, and skills, employees will be more satisfied with the work they’re doing, and it creates an environment where people feel they can be their authentic selves. Happy, fulfilled employees lead to happier customers, which leads to better business results. Makes sense, right?

Progress is a Process, but More Businesses are Starting to See the Importance

In the business world today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an organization that doesn’t see the importance of having a diverse and inclusive company (and that’s progress!). But while the recognition of the need is there, too often the execution falls short. Nearly one-third of companies in a Deloitte survey said they are unprepared in this area.

But why is that? Not only is it the fair and right thing to do in terms offering opportunity to everyone, but the positives from a business perspective are clear, with the data to back it up. According to research from Deloitte, organizations that support diversity and make employees feel included are much more likely to meet business goals than those that don’t. Sara Ellison, an MIT economist, says that “having a more diverse set of employees means you have a more diverse set of skills [which] could result in an office that functions better.” And a McKinsey study showed that companies in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above-average profits.

Sure, the bottom line boosts are important, but there are so many other benefits that diversity in the workplace brings that are priceless, such as a happy, inspired, open, and caring company culture. Our Ally team has its sights continually trained on “Doing it Right,” and that includes fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace in any way we can. Getting there just starts with a little understanding of how to turn the concept into reality, and a lot of help from forward-thinkers like Reggie Willis.

Building a diverse workforce doesn’t just happen overnight. As they say, “inclusive practices weren’t built in a day” (or something like that), and there is always room to improve on what is in place. It takes more than a one-time initiative to create a truly welcoming workplace and culture. It takes conscious awareness, personal commitment, and plenty of moments when you ask, “Is this inclusive to all of our employees? If not, how can I make it so? Are we hiring enough people from different backgrounds and ways of life to expand our worldview? If not, how can I change that?”

Diversity and Inclusion: What’s the Difference?

While the two terms are often used together in reference to the workplace, diversity and inclusion aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Diversity focuses on who you have in your organization: their gender, race, sexual orientation, experience, and background. Inclusion takes into consideration how people feel and experience work while they are there.

At Ally, we strive to achieve a high degree of success in both areas. By developing a group of employees that has diverse perspectives and life experiences, a company can address problems and find solutions through a multitude of lenses, and in a way you most likely wouldn’t have seen before. And on top of that, an inclusive environment ensures everyone feels comfortable being true to themselves and at ease sharing their unique perspectives. So in essence, one doesn’t truly work without the other.

What We’re Working on at Ally

One way we try to make Ally a welcoming place to work is through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).  ERGs are Ally’s open forums for teammates who share common interests to meet and support one another. From Asian/Middle Eastern ALLYs, to Diverse Abilities ALLYs, to Veteran ALLYs, LGBTQ ALLYs, and Women ALLYs, we hope to hear every group’s voice. Our ERGs focus on training, community outreach, and business connectivity to make that hope a reality and leave no group unnoticed.

We’re also focusing on ensuring our benefits are truly helpful to our employees for whatever life throws at them. Parental leave, adoption assistance, military leave, work environment accommodations, you name it – we want to be the ally to our employees that our employees are to our customers.

We celebrate all our employees, whose unique outlooks on life have helped us to grow into a company we’re all proud of.

Read more of our thoughts on diversity and inclusion: https://www.ally.com/about/diversity-inclusion/