At Salo, we see DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) as a human imperative. The national events of the last 18 months taught us that our past attempts at DEI work weren’t cutting it. We had good intentions and great, big blind spots. We were talking about diversity, but not taking enough action. It’s not that we weren’t trying, but we weren’t being as intentional, creative, and thoughtful as we could be. We needed to do better.
Although we still have a long way to go, over the past year, we’ve made some big strides in our DEI efforts. And they’ve made a meaningful impact on our organization. Here are some of the recent DEI initiatives we’re proud of:
- Diversity council—In the past, our company had a diversity committee. It was made up of people who were already interested in diversity issues. They had great discussions, book clubs, and more. However, there wasn’t a way to spread those insights to the rest of the company. So, in 2020 we retired the committee and established a diversity council. A group of cross-functional team members, the council is focused on creating a more inclusive company and culture. They’re tasked with taking actions that ensure the entire company is part of the diversity work.
- Diverse hiring and onboarding practices—We’ve upped our commitment to diversity in recruiting—requiring a truly diverse slate of candidates for each hire. In today’s market, it’s hard to find people, period. Even though insisting on a diverse slate prolongs our hiring process for roles we’re desperate to fill, we’re not going to settle. Additionally, this year, we had a company-wide goal to expand our network to include people from different backgrounds and communities than our traditional networks (e.g., BIPoC, LGBTQIA, veterans, people with disabilities). As a result, we’ve met (and hired) amazing people. We’re also tackling onboarding practices and policies—figuring out how we can be welcoming to every hire from day one.
- Diversity dialogs—Diversity dialogs are company-wide listening and learning events for our corporate team and consultants. We choose a diverse topic, provide some content (i.e., TED talk videos, articles, or a live speaker), and then discuss the topics in depth. The sessions introduce new concepts and create common language to talk about a wide variety of diversity issues—from racial bias to personal pronouns.We expect everyone to participate. We want their perspectives. Depending on the topic, people can be in vastly different places, and the conversation can get intense. And we celebrate it because if we all agreed on everything nobody would be learning. It’s not about telling people what to think; it’s about helping people make informed choices about how they show up in the world. The conversation continues for weeks after the session—with the team sharing ideas and content amongst themselves.
- Individual employee actions—At Salo, we believe that leadership and our diversity council can set the pace, but we won’t truly make progress unless our employees get involved. So, in addition to participating in diversity dialogs, each employee undergoes diversity training and every person on our team has a diversity goal. In the past, we let people choose their diversity goal, but this year we asked each person to make a goal about expanding their networks to align with our diverse hiring and onboarding initiatives. Setting aside time for each employee to focus on diversity goals ensures everyone is included in DEI work.
- Community partnerships—Finally, we’re proud of our continued partnerships with The Sanneh Foundation, The Cristo Rey Work Study Program, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, National Black MBA Association, National Association of Black Accountants, Association for Latino Professionals For America, and National Association of African Americans in Human Resources —which help those in our diverse communities.
DEI is an ongoing talent industry opportunity
In addition to altruistic goals, DEI makes our business stronger. Our mission is to “connect and empower people to make a difference.” It’s our job to find as many talented consultants as we can, figure out what really lights each of them up, and then connect them to businesses that need their talents. Inclusivity is, quite literally, the point of our work.
And it’s not just us. Right now, the talent industry has the opportunity to lead with inclusiveness. The whole country is facing talent crises—candidate scarcities, the great resignation, etc. The only way out is for talent professionals and processes to adapt—to get creative about hiring diverse people, breaking down barriers, and helping diverse professionals succeed in the workplace.
And that applies to all kinds of diversity, from race and sexual orientation to alternative educational backgrounds and people of all ages. It’s about helping women re-enter the workplace, mentoring Black youth, and so much more. If we want diversity—with all its social and business benefits—we need to start with being inclusive. Then follow it up with clear action steps and measurable goals.
At Salo, we’ll keep striving to do better
At Salo, we’re committed to making Salo as inclusive and diverse as possible. However, we’re still figuring it out. We’re being vulnerable and trying new things. That means we aren’t going to get it right every time. We’ll make our share of mistakes. However, we hope—with constructive feedback and encouragement from our employees, stakeholders, and community—we’ll turn our “good intentions” into real progress.