How these 7 Chicago companies foster more inclusive workplaces


Suzi Lilley, a director of global talent acquisition at customer engagement agency tms (formerly The Marketing Store), said inclusion groups need to have a cross section of leadership representation in order to be successful. For change to happen, everyone has to be involved.

How does your company approach intersectionality in the workplace, and how does that help shape your broader DEI initiatives?

Our approach to inclusion is grounded in enabling our people and operations to support the equitable opportunity of all people. We believe in creating a professional space where people can bring their whole selves to work and be met with acceptance, respect, dignity and legitimacy. It is, therefore, critical that we support our people to act inclusively and understand what “all” really means.

To help us to do this, we introduced the concept of intersectionality as a framework to enable us to understand the multiple facets of how a person can be identified, such as race, ethnicity, gender and parental status. We created a short video to help us to articulate what intersectionality is and shared with our employees and our followers on our social channels.

We have run a “lunch and listen” in respect of the Black Lives Matter movement. We provide an open forum for our people to share their experiences with their colleagues and peers in a safe space. We partnered with Howard Brown Health Centre to run mandatory transgender and gender non-conformity training. We added pronouns to our signatures to ensure we put this training into meaningful action.

We facilitated panels with external speakers to discuss Black History Month, microaggressions and allyship for the LGBTQ+ community. We shared educational resources to highlight pivotal events, such as Juneteenth, in our inclusion calendar. We introduced an inclusion newsletter to ensure we have continual thought leadership and knowledge-sharing circulating to our people on a regular basis. Here we introduce concepts such as microaggression, share educational resources and spotlight our own employees to hear their stories.

Intersectionality is critical to our DEI work. It is the filter we seek to put across all our work to hold ourselves accountable for recognizing everyone who fits into the “all” we want to include.

What has been the most impactful action your company has taken to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment?

At the start of the year we committed to inclusion being a critical component in our business plan. We recognized that we had work to do in this space, and in order for that work to be meaningful and sustainable, inclusion had to be a priority and a stand-alone component of our overall business strategy.

One of the first actions we set out to deliver was to build teams in each of our global locations that would help us deliver on our inclusion ambitions. The inclusion teams are comprised of people from varying levels across each of our local businesses and are led by an inclusion lead who also sits in the local people team. They are structured in a specific way to ideate and deliver output across four key tenants: culture, communications, acts of inclusion and tracking our inclusion progress.

Implementing our inclusion team has been the single most effective output of all of our inclusion efforts this year. It has amplified the voices of our diverse people and enabled them to effect meaningful change in our organization.

Read the full article, originally published by Built In Chicago, here.