Last year was full of challenges. But for me, 2020 also resulted in huge achievements. Firstly, I feel I excelled in my role as Cavallaro Family Chief Planning Officer and Social Calendar Keeper, and I actually found time to enhance my culinary skills.
Personal accomplishments aside, though, the work I am most proud of is my role in the Euler Hermes Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The initiative certainly tested my self-awareness and pushed my emotional buttons. But it has taught my colleagues and me invaluable lessons about the importance of conversations about diversity, and of taking tangible action against discrimination.
The year we sat up and took notice
I have been at Euler Hermes North America for nearly six years and have spent my entire career in Human Resources. I am now in charge of Talent Attraction and Employee Experience Management. I handle everything from recruitment and onboarding to employer branding and employee engagement.
Diversity and inclusion have always been important for the company and the HR team. However, the alarming events of the summer of 2020 made us realize that there is much more work to be done. I think the Black Lives Matter movement revealed to many of us—not just Americans—our ignorance regarding the experiences of those who face discrimination. When people within the company started talking about the fact that we needed to do more, I knew I wanted to be part of the effort to make our workplace fairer.
Being part of the solution
Our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, comprised of about 20 people, was formed in July 2020. It kicked off with a forum that invited people to share their personal stories of experiencing discrimination. Around half of Euler Hermes’ 400 US employees attended what turned out to be a very moving discussion. It gave me a deeper sense of my own privilege—and of my corresponding responsibilities.
The task force defined its mission to provide oversight on diversity efforts and promote company-wide communication on progress, in a bid to help all employees educate, understand and respect each other.
It chose to focus on five critical areas through dedicated working groups: Communication and Culture; Education and Training; Talent Attraction and Management; Community Outreach; and Data & Metrics. We created a Diversity and Inclusion Resource Center on our intranet, and we issue regular newsletters to keep everyone updated on our actions and results.
One of the initiatives to come out of our task force is also my proudest achievement to date: We’ve created a Minority Development program, which identifies and offers professional development opportunities to Euler Hermes employees with minority backgrounds.
While I am already pleased to see how the conversation is evolving within the task force, I hope our changing attitudes will find their reflection across the company. Last year, we conducted a staff survey on diversity to create a baseline, and we plan to repeat that survey regularly to see how we are moving the needle.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
Society as a whole has a long way to go on understanding and embracing diversity and inclusion. What makes people and companies stand out, however, is their willingness to admit what they do not know and mobilize resources to address issues.
I am proud to be part of the solution, and to work with people who choose to face important issues, however hard they may be. I truly believe that in order for a business and its people to thrive, we must make fairness, equality and inclusion our top priorities.