Last month I wrote in quite a bit of detail about my philosophy as it pertains to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Basically that it cannot be forced upon people. It is a gradual process of education and positive action. And a lot of listening and learning.
This month, in a short follow up blog on the same topic, I would like to herald some of the activities and outcomes that have come from listening to our employees tell us what needs to change. This progress is the result of a lot of passionate and committed people putting a shoulder into the strategy and detailed action plans needed to achieve results.
Cooper’s Painted Picture
Every three years we lay out a vision for what the company will look like three years into the future. In 2022 we painted our 4th picture which provides a view to where we will be in 2025 as a company. This Painted Picture document provides direction for decision making throughout our organization in that it is a framework designed to move the company down a path towards specific goals. In that vision we incorporated the following on Diversity:
“Our team is the most diverse group of rental professionals in North America with women and visible minorities making up 40% of the workforce and represented at all levels of the company including senior management positions. We are recognized for our efforts in ensuring women and minorities are given meaningful development and mentorship opportunities so that every Cooper team member has an opportunity to achieve their full potential. Cooper Equipment Rentals is a place where everyone feels safe and comfortable to come to work as their true self.”
Working towards Gender Parity
In 2020 we set out on a path towards gender parity in our workplace. Working with the Women in Governance organization we applied for Parity Certification. This is a diagnostic tool that helps organizations assess their current status, identifying gaps in policies, systems, and processes related to gender parity while accounting for the positive impact of achieving parity in the workforce.
Our first attempt was very enlightening, achieving a parity score of 29.75 points. We had a lot of work to do, given that a Bronze level certification requires a minimum score of 40 points.
So, in June 2021 we set up a Women in Governance Committee made up of members from our Senior Leadership, People and Culture, Operations, and Sales and Marketing teams.
In 2021 we tried again and once again we failed to achieve the Bronze level of 40 points, but we came close with a score of 38.8 points. We were encouraged but there was still more work to do. We knew if we did not become discouraged and remained committed to the process we would ultimately succeed.
So, in November 2021 we engaged Synclusiv, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant to help us build the strategy and develop the specific actions and timelines for realizing the vision. One of the early recommendations from Synclusiv was to create a DE & I Advisor position in the company. We set out to fill this position and are happy to report that in April 2022 we promoted Anna Somogyi, who had been working as a Rental Coordinator in our Burlington location, to the position of DE & I Advisor. Anna has since expanded her team to include three dedicated DE & I Ambassadors from different functions of the Cooper business.
In 2022, we once again applied for Parity Certification and I am ecstatic to report we achieved a score of 59.11 points, just 0.89 points below the Silver level.
We are “Going for Gold” in 2023!
Long term Strategy
To get us from where we are today to where we want to go, we need a Strategy. Our strategy is built on four main pillars:
- Key Business Relationships
- Commitment to an inclusive workplace that represents our community where communication is respectful and customers are treated to high standards of integrity.
- Cooper aims to do business with likeminded businesses that value diversity.
- Keeping employees safe and part of the communities we serve. Cooper is regarded as a safe and respectful place to work.
- Hiring and Onboarding
- Committed to an inclusive workplace that reflects the communities where we operate
- Clear roadmap for employees to what they can achieve at Cooper
- Equal opportunities for all beginning with an unbiased recruitment process
- Target specific untapped pools of candidates
- Health, Safety, and Wellness
- Address employee/prospective employee concerns and provide resources for health, safety, and well-being
- Foster a culture of acceptance – come as your authentic self – we got your back
- Processes and procedures for employees if they are treated disrespectfully or are harassed
- Aim to attract the right people to Cooper whose values align with ours
- Growth, Promotion, and Beyond
- Internal training leading to better customer experience; more consistency through less turnover
- Mentorship and Sponsorship programs to drive engagement and employee advancement
- Learning and development opportunities for all employees to empower them and support their career growth
- Focus on helping people develop transferable skills that will be of use to them personally and professionally throughout their lives – whether at Cooper or not
I know I said I would keep it short and the above outlines just some of the main initiatives that we have taken as a company to make us better. And as I like to say “Better is Good”.
That’s all for this month.