WASHINGTON, DC, September 11, 2023 – Fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) where employees feel valued, respected and empowered as individuals can lead to increased productivity, innovation and overall employee satisfaction. An exploration of DEI principles and ways to champion initiatives to drive positive change were the topics of ELFA’s recent webinar, “Building Inclusive Workplaces: You’ve successfully recruited a diverse workforce, now what?”
Session presenters Scott Thacker, CPA, CLFP, Chief Executive Officer, Ivory Consulting Corporation and Chair, ELFA Equity Committee; Christopher Johnson, SVP & President, Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services; Moto Tohda, CLFP, Vice President/Information Systems, Tokyo Century (USA) Inc.; Amy Weum, Regional Vice President, Farm Credit Leasing; and Eboni Preston-Laurent, Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, ELFA, shared expert insights and effective strategies for implementing and sustaining inclusive practices in the workplace.
“The panelists' excellent suggestions and creative ideas around building inclusive workplaces are inspiring and thought provoking, and illustrate that DEI should be a priority for all businesses which desire to outperform their peers,” said Thacker. “I encourage everyone—whether or not you have experience in DEI or believe in the benefits of DEI—to watch the webinar recording as a primer to building a DEI culture, and to access the range of free resources ELFA and the Equity Committee provide to assist you in your journey. I also urge everyone to attend our upcoming second annual Equity Forum to learn from many guest speakers experienced in DEI and to interact and share ideas in a safe space.”
More than 100 industry professionals participated in the August 30 event, which examined the far reaching and positive benefits of a DEI culture throughout the organization. The following are among the webinar highlights.
- Organizational impacts. Efficiency, profitability and engagement all increase in a DEI environment. Having people from diverse walks of life and perspectives working on a business problem or opportunity helps to create greater efficiencies by rethinking the status quo and developing solutions in new ways. It enables greater speed to identify and manage issues, as well as creates richer discourse for more effective responses. Employee satisfaction is higher and motivated employees contribute more when there is open dialogue and an inclusive culture. A DEI culture also enhances recruitment and enables you to attract higher caliber talent.
- Initial steps. Organizations starting on the path to adopting DEI will sometimes attempt to take on too much and exceed what their ability, time and budget allow. Instead, start small, create tangible goals and celebrate successes. For example, select three to five initiatives, including low hanging fruit that can be attained right away, and others than can reasonably be achieved in year one. Assign people with accountability for those goals, meet regularly to share updates, and take time to reflect and share successes throughout the company. This allows for people to talk about DEI in a meaningful, intentional way and share in the process.
- Ongoing formal training. Continuing the conversation with your teams, whether monthly or quarterly, allows your organization to realign and establish your core values and commitment to inclusion throughout the year. This can be facilitated internally or by a diversity trainer. Given the current cultural sensitivity around DEI, it’s equally important to raise cultural awareness and education of DEI in a more informal, light-hearted way. Consider monthly lunch-and-learns around topical events such as Disability Awareness Month, or a religious holiday like Holi. Create opportunities where employees feel free to share their experiences with disabilities such as ADHD or dyslexia. Bringing someone in—or someone on staff—to talk about their experience, can be very impactful.
- Employee resource groups (ERG). ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups of shared characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle or career path (women’s, pride, veteran, Hispanic, ally, young professional, etc.) that support an organization’s DEI goals. These groups should be easily accessible, available on your company’s website and easy to join. They should form a mission statement and have a senior leader to reinforce top-down participation, commitment and core focus. ERGs are a great way to keep people involved on an ongoing basis with programming and special events like community service projects, holiday commemorations and book clubs. Slack channels are an effective way to keep people connected with their particular interests.
- Learning curve. Everyone is on their own personal journey with DEI, and part of the experience is making mistakes. People bring different opinions and perspectives, so they may not know the appropriate word choices or pronouns, and the culture is always evolving. Be open to learning from each other, acknowledge offenses and move forward. Remember that we’re all in this together and we’re supporting each other.
A recording of the August 30 webinar is available here.
The 2023 ELFA Equity Forum will be held September 13-14 in New Orleans, and will feature transformative educational sessions that celebrate diversity and embrace the power of inclusion for the benefit of all. To register or for more information, visit www.elfaonline.org/events/2023/EF.
ELFA’s goals to inspire and develop an inclusive and equitable industry and promote and advance DEI in all areas of the association are key priorities, led by the ELFA Equity Committee. The committee curates information and tools for fostering diversity, equity and inclusion across the association and the equipment finance industry. They are available on ELFA’s Knowledge Hub “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” Industry Topics page.
The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) is the trade association that represents companies in the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, which includes financial services companies and manufacturers engaged in financing capital goods. ELFA members are the driving force behind the growth in the commercial equipment finance market and contribute to capital formation in the U.S. and abroad. Its 580 members include independent and captive leasing and finance companies, banks, financial services corporations, broker/packagers and investment banks, as well as manufacturers and service providers. ELFA has been equipping business for success for more than 60 years. For more information, please visit www.elfaonline.org.
Media/Press Contact: Amy Vogt, Vice President, Communications and Marketing, ELFA, 202-238-3438 or email@example.com