Posts Tagged ‘diversity and inclusion’

A Best Practice in Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Resource Groups from Advance Auto Parts

Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts, Speaker at the North Carolina Diversity Best Practices Meeting.

In the diversity and inclusion field, there continues to be continued discussion on the importance of Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs. Traditionally, they have been referred to as “affinity groups” as they bring together employees around a common constituency factor such as Black, Hispanic, Women, Young Professionals, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), Veterans and more. These groups help make employees feel more at home and included in the workplace, and provide activities such as professional and social networking, mentoring and community involvement.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, I often attend various workshops to continue to pick up the latest development in my field. In early July, I attended a half day “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices” seminar organized by the National Diversity Council – Carolinas in Durham, NC. One of the presenters was Kiwanda Stansbury, Director, Inclusion and Diversity, Advance Auto Parts.

Ms. Stansbury started off by stating that Advance Auto Part’s and her mode of operation is to foster change and target to do things differently and better. That was evident in the way they structure and execute their employee resource groups, which they call “Team Member Networks” which follows their corporate nomenclature of referring to their employees as team members. Current Team Member Networks include:
• Women in Motion Network (WIMN)
• Knowledge Network – Diversity of Thought
• A.L.I.G.N. – African Americans Leading Inclusion and Growth Network
• S.E.R.V.I.C.E. – Serve, Educate, Recruit, Value, Celebrate and Empower (Veterans)
• #Connext – Millennial Network
• Amigos Unidos – Hispanic / Latino
• Advance Pride – LGBTQ
• R.I.C.E. – Recognizing International Cultures and Ethnicities

And Ms. Stansbury’s position title was different than normally found in the diversity and inclusion field in that her title is Director, Inclusion and Diversity. This highlights that inclusion is the real emphasis since that is where the work happens. Diversity is a fact of life, but inclusion is the hard work or making sure everyone is welcomed and valued in the workplace.

Company Resource Groups very often staff booths and tables at community diversity activities like this one I attended on my 60th birthday.

The major best practice that Ms. Stansbury shared was Advance Auto Parts’ robust and structured approach to inclusion and diversity which includes aligning their Team Member Networks to the overall organization’s strategy. They have established a structure and approach around four agreed upon key focus areas (i.e. pillars) that keep the networks aligned with corporate strategy:
Team Member Inclusion and Development
Talent Acquisition and Retention
Customer and Community Outreach which involves connecting team members to the customers and communities they serve through outreach and community service projects.
Business Alignment which includes aligning with the cultural shift, corporate strategy, tying to organizational health and establishing metrics to measure efforts.

Providing a strong framework around inclusion efforts will surely benefit Advance Auto Parts’ Team Member Networks by providing them a structure to operate so they thrive and be effective for both the corporation and the team members over the long term.

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Other Blogs I have written about Employee Network Groups:

Evolving Employee Resource Groups – a Creative Approach from Erie Insurance, which I wrote after the 2016 National Diversity Council – Carolinas Best Practices meeting.

Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups – Not “either / or,” but “both / and” which I wrote in response to one firm planning to close down their employee resource groups.

Diversity and Inclusion Wisdom from a College Student

Enjoying Georgia Tech homecoming 2017 with mascot Buzz

Often in my “off-work” life I am on the look out for good material for my blog, especially since I try to publish an entry three or four times a month. And I lucked out while attending by 40th college class reunion at Georgia Tech in late October this year.

The Georgia Tech Alumni Association offered a robust series of events on Homecoming Friday at their new Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. One session I attended was the student panel talking about student life at Georgia Tech. I knew it would be fun to see how campus life differed from my time (1973 – 1977) 0n campus.

The panel included 2 male and 3 female students from various majors involved with a wide range of activities on campus. The panel moderator opened the discussion with a few planned questions before opening the floor to alumni, most of who were attending their 40th and 50th class reunions. Discussions included topics such as favorite traditions, hardest classes and easiest classes. Certainly there have been many changes over the past 40 or 50 years.

One of the more notable changes is the gender make up of the entering class. When I arrived at Georgia Tech, approximately 10% of the student body was women. Now the latest entering class was over 40% women. It is great to see the drastic increase in women pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and careers.

Then one gentleman in the audience asked a particularly fascination question of the students, “Who do you feel are smarter at Tech – the men or the women?”

After a short somewhat awkward pause, one of the women on the panel gave a profound answer. She said:

“I have been on project work teams in my classes where I was the only woman. I have also been on project teams that have been entirely women. And I have found the most successful project teams have been those with a good mix of men and women. We often have different ways of looking at issues and problems, and it seems that teams that have more diverse ways of thinking end of with the best results.”

As a diversity and inclusion consultant and trainer, I was so heartened that this young woman could articulate the value of diversity of thought that many organizations still need to learn. Often diversity breeds an increase in creative thinking leading to the best solution to business challenges, the best product offerings and the best customer support. This makes me enthusiastic about the future of American business and the future business leaders coming out of universities such as Georgia Tech.

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