To empower all minority employees in the workplace, members of National Business Furniture took the initiative to create a new Employee Resource Group (ERG), BOLD365. Diversity, equality, and inclusion, or DEI, is a necessity in companies large and small and has a direct impact on every employee at every level of the company.
"BOLD365 is for everybody; DEI benefits everybody. It isn't just representative of one minority group-- it's here to represent all and we have the benefit of being led by very strong Black leaders within NBF" says Maggie Alefsen, co-chair of BOLD365. "We see the world from a very specific lens and can be aware of how our actions impact everybody as a whole. We focus on the groups who need the most support and in turn we are here for everybody"
Our ERG is a means of support as well as direct action. Meaningful organizational change has a direct impact on employee wellness both in and out of the workplace. Everybody is responsible for making a healthier, DEI-informed environment not just a possibility but a reality.
Representation matters. No matter what your company looks like, you already have employees from different backgrounds and experiences. Embracing DEI expands and enhances your workforce. This is a known driver of happiness, positive wellbeing, and empathy between all employees. Representation also allows your customers to see themselves in you and feel comfortable buying from a company that understands and has their best interests at heart.
Accountability matters. An ERG truly holds senior leadership accountable by giving them direct feedback on the needs, thoughts, and feelings of their team members. While it isn't an easy process, it is a necessary one. It starts with having discussions and acknowledging the need for change. After recognizing what needs to improve, the process of implementing that change is a way to go from "what has always been done" to "what we are doing to move forward."
Voices matter. Employees at the front lines know the power of change, often more so than leadership is aware. Minority employees need to have a voice in executive discussions just as much as they must have a voice among their peers. Creating a sense of understanding and empathy comes naturally with forming a DEI-focused ERG and speaking out brings awareness and welcomes discussions of change and growth.
Engagement matters. Listening, understanding, and feeling the needs of minorities goes beyond the workplace. Engaging with internal initiatives is paramount, be it opportunities for enriching training, internal contests or activities, or collaborative learning opportunities is important for integrating an ERG into the workplace. From there, a strong ERG is able to provide community outreach, such as working with internal teams to give back to a community or share our knowledge with other companies. The ways we can all engage with one another are vast and expansive.
Direct actions matter. The time to build on a healthy, representative workplace is now. Talking about and considering change is only as impactful as the change itself. It's important to see diversity in hiring practices, marketing plans, outreach efforts, and every other aspect of the company. Development is not optional and strategy must come to a reality. The empowerment of our ERG is reflected in a growing, changing organization and this is possible in every industry, every community, every workplace, and everybody.
"BOLD365 is our internal way to represent all of the employees who make up the essence of NBF. We're a voice that steps out and speaks on the behalf of minorities in our organization. We're here to celebrate, represent, and acknowledge the successes of all groups, doing so from a lens of minority employee groups throughout. These groups are growing quickly--as they should--because at the end of the day, everybody needs furniture and the only way we can successfully engage with customers across the country is to have outlook from all viewpoints. BOLD365 pushes our business forward from the inside out."
Maggie Alefsen reminds us of this incredible ERG: "We are Black & minority employee advocates, we are outstanding leaders in our organization, and we are driven to ensure that NBF is a diverse workplace. These multi-faceted lenses are what make us BOLD365 every day."
It all starts with empowering employees to empower one another. Give them the tools, space, voice, and time to be BOLD in every way.