It’s 2021, and the need for inclusive and diverse workplaces in all sectors can no longer be ignored.
It’s not enough for a company to want to diversify the workplace to pat themselves on the back. Instead, companies should be explicitly seeking out talent from underrepresented groups (with their needs being considered as a main priority), with the whole team on board — starting from the top.
“This is probably my favorite topic, because I’m really proud of the work ZoomInfo has done with DEI,” Alyssa Lahar, the Chief Human Resources Officer at ZoomInfo, says on an episode of Talent on the Rise.
ZoomInfo, with Alyssa’s guidance, goes above and beyond to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a top priority in its workplace.
- Prioritizing diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented groups should be a top priority in your workplace. A company that takes care of its employees, from all backgrounds and cultures, is going to thrive far better than one that does not.
- “Our leadership team is committed to being inclusive, and that's a part of our hiring, our onboarding and our employee development,” says Alyssa Lahar, Chief Human Resources Officer at ZoomInfo. “Our board is also very much involved and focused on diversity and they take an active interest in supporting it in any way they can as well.”
- The COVID-19 pandemic has created both hindrances and opportunities for historically marginalized groups in the workplace. It’s up to you to make sure you lead a flexible environment that puts your employees’ needs first.
Why is DEI Important?
A workplace that ensures a diversity of backgrounds, thoughts and experiences is going to be much more well-rounded and exploratory than one that only centers on one type of experience. An organization cannot grow when it is only operating from one frame of reference.
DEI is a broad term that incorporates a range of categories and backgrounds. The ZoomInfo team views diversity through a broad lens: from gender identity to race, from military involvement to professional background — all experiences are worth bringing to the table to spark new conversation.
“One of our values at ZoomInfo is defining new possibilities, and to us, that’s not just about innovation, but it’s also about how we can be doing things differently,” Alyssa says. “And people who come in with a different perspective and different experiences are really helping to educate the people around them.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people of color — especially women of color — have been eliminated from the workforce at disproportionate rates, it is particularly important to pay attention to diversity and inclusion: not just hiring people from different backgrounds, but also ensuring they can thrive at your organization.
Here are four tips from Alyssa for fostering and maintaining a diverse environment at your company.
1. Think Beyond ‘Diversity Hiring’
Alyssa acknowledges that consciously expanding your hiring pool to include people from traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups is crucial to cultivating an inclusive and diverse work environment. But it’s important to look beyond “diversity hiring” that boosts your company’s reputation, but abandons the needs of new hires after their first day.
Alyssa says ZoomInfo is focused on building meaningful partnerships with people from underrepresented groups and organizations across the business as an ongoing process within the business.
And the organization’s ongoing relationships and partnerships have become a natural source of referrals.
“It’s really about building different relationships with partners. There are all sorts of different groups out there that we’re able to partner with and that help us bring in additional talent that we otherwise wouldn’t be privy to,” Alyssa says.
Some of the groups Alyssa references are Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where she says the ZoomInfo diversity recruiter spends a lot of time building partnerships.
“We also have a professional diversity network, which is a diversity recruiting platform that spans across gender, race, ability and military involvement,” she explains. “We’re currently sourcing for an engineering bootcamp, and we’re focused on sourcing talent from the HBCUs and the Hispanic serving institutions.”
2. Make Sure Your Whole Team is on Board
When thinking about diversity and inclusion, your company can’t just have one person pulling all the weight to ensure success across the organization.
Alyssa talks about how Henry Schuck, the CEO of ZoomInfo, has expressed great passion and care for this subject, and has really been a part of the push to incorporate DEI into the company’s DNA.
“I don’t think you can really be successful in a proactive way if you don’t have the support that goes all the way to the top,” Alyssa says. “All our employees are extremely engaged. I don’t think we would be successful if this was a top-down mandate. This is something that all employees get involved in and are excited to be a part of.”
With this kind of support, ZoomInfo is able to successfully accomplish some great feats in DEI.
3. Take Care of Your Staff
If your company looks to hire people from a diversity of backgrounds but doesn’t accommodate to help them thrive, you may be doing more harm than good.
ZoomInfo provides a commendable benefits package to its employees that includes items that especially benefit employees from marginalized backgrounds, including gender reassignment surgery being covered as a non-elective medical procedure and ensuring there are counselors representing different genders and races in employee assistance programs.
“I think inclusivity has to be a part of the entire employee life cycle. It has to be embedded in recruiting and the onboarding process, benefits, internal development and obviously the employee experiences,” Alyssa says.
Alyssa also talks about how the human resources department works to ensure the success of all its employees.
“Last year, our HR organization worked with every Black employee within the company to make sure they had an individual development plan, tailoring it to their strengths, their opportunities, and where they were looking to take their careers,” Alyssa says.
ZoomInfo also pays close attention to mental health.
“We’re starting to put together and launch additional employee resource groups, and one of them is around mental health. Getting people to be comfortable and recognize that it’s okay to talk about mental health without a stigma associated with it is really important, so we’re really excited to be launching that,” Alyssa says.
4. Allow Everyone’s Opinions to be Heard
ZoomInfo has embarked on some creative projects to ensure all employees feel like they’re participating and know their worth to the company.
“We do roundtables every week, so we’re pretty active with that. And we check to see engagement when we’re hosting events to see the split between new hires and more tenured employees,” Alyssa says.
One especially unique endeavor the company took on was a Shark Tank-style event, where all employees were invited to present their innovative ideas to the whole company, with the top ideas moving forward to the head of the company.
“It gave an opportunity to every employee, regardless of what part of the organization they were in, to be brainstorming about what we can be doing better. It was really well-received,” Alyssa says.
This article is based on an episode of Talent on the Rise, Brazen’s podcast about transformative leaders and how they got a seat at the table. Subscribe in your preferred podcast app.