“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization.” — Pat Wadors, Head of Human Resources at LinkedIn
Picture it…December 2019. A Naylor employee rounds the corner on the second floor of the Gainesville office to see a colorful, decorative display honoring the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Curiosity piqued, he inquires about the holiday’s meaning which, in turn, sparks an engaging conversation about Kwanzaa’s roots and importance.
The comfortability of cultural expression from “employee A” and the subsequent dialogue with “employee B” is an example of why cultivating an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion is so important. Creating a safe space where employEES can express their unique traits and characteristics (diversity) and employERS embrace the behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome (inclusion) is linked to more than just casual conversation.
The Benefits of Workplace Diversity
Workplace diversity has tangible and direct benefits as well including: higher innovation, higher employee engagement, increased creativity, reduced employee turnover, and faster problem solving to name a few. Companies who have greater workplace diversity outperform their competitors and achieve higher profits!
Recognizing these benefits and the need to create a forum of support for Black employee engagement, the Naylor Black Professionals (NBP) Employee Resource Group was born. Established in 2019 under the joint leadership of John Bacon and Tabitha Jenkins, the group is designed to create an inclusive environment for Black professionals to connect and cultivate relationships in and outside of the workplace. Using Naylor’s core principles as its foundation, NBP strives to promote community engagement through its offerings of educational opportunities, networking events, cultural events, and social gatherings.
Workplace Diversity in Action
Highlighting Naylor’s core value of a commitment to strategically focused goals and initiatives, NBP hosted two writing workshops on December 21, 2019 and January 11, 2020 to assist 10 middle school students with Black History Month essay contest submissions. The contest was sponsored by the Alachua County Democratic Party and included cash prizes for the winners. The workshops were facilitated by Tabitha Jenkins, Jasmin Robinson, Jennifer Allen, Margaret Kuon, Aaron Brand, Jasmine Lillie and Heather Glandorf. Students were charged with writing about an African-American who has inspired them to reach for greater heights. Everyone from LeBron James to Martin Luther King to Misty Copeland were profiled.
The students had opportunity to tour Naylor’s Gainesville office, draft their submissions on computers in our training room and benefit from our editorial staff’s expertise. Each day concluded with food and fellowship. While we didn’t have a winner from our group, the students are still in touch, speak fondly about their experience and are eagerly awaiting our Winter Writing Workshop.
In addition to the workshops, NBP hosted an initial meet and greet in January to get to know members across Naylor offices and a forum in June to extend support for discussion in the wake of events surrounding the killing of George Floyd.
Round the Corner with an Employee Resource Group
The Naylor Black Professionals invite everyone to “round the corner” so we can collectively respect, seek to understand, grow and learn from one another. It is important to note that ALL of our employees are welcome to engage with NBP. Diversity and inclusion should not be just HR buzzwords. They are necessary bricks in the foundation for building a workplace that embraces your authenticity and honors who you are, exactly as you are.