At CivicPlus, we believe that diversity drives innovation. A recent report from Gartner indicated a notable difference in performance between nondiverse and diverse organizations. Companies that reflected diversity across their teams are expected to exceed their financial targets at a rate of 75 percent by the end of 2022. It’s clear that diversity of age, gender, race, and ethnicity serves as a catalyst to high and growing levels of innovation and success.
We believe our workforce should reflect the communities we serve. So as a company, we are committed to attracting and retaining those who share our mission of helping government work better through an employee development strategy built on equity and equal opportunity.
Elliot Olson, CivicPlus 2022 DEIB Committee co-chair, reinforces that point by saying, “We are a company that represents and works for diverse communities and customers, and if we don’t pursue that same kind of diversity within our organization, we won’t be able to serve those people adequately.” Olson added, “It’s just the right thing to do. No one wants to walk through life feeling like they are at a disadvantage for things they have no control over. We want to make sure none of our employees feel marginalized or disadvantaged.”
The Formation of a DEIB Committee
In the summer of 2020, CivicPlus set out to determine how it could put diversity at the forefront of its focus. The company sent out a survey, and the formation of the DEIB committee was one of the things that came out of those responses.
The committee serves as a group dedicated to ensuring an organizational commitment to fostering a culture of inclusion where everyone feels respected, appreciated, and welcome. Together, we create technology to build a better community.
In addition to the benefits of creating a more diverse and inclusive environment for our employees, additional benefits have been seen, such as:
- Diversifying products in terms of accessibility
- Transitioning to the use of more inclusive language
- Reaching and connecting with new communities
The DEIB committee has led to the creation of four subcommittees, each with its own focus.
“Each subcommittee has its own goals for 2022 but as a whole, we’ll be focused on things like graduating new mentors within our mentorship program, training hours and opportunities, DEIB learning events, and attracting diverse applicants,” Olson said. "Our committee set measurable goals to address the biggest needs we see—while our goals get into specifics, the bottom line is that we want our company to be diverse, educated, and empowered to see and address the intersections of identity that affect our customers and their residents."
Advice for Local Governments Looking to Start a DEIB Initiative
DEIB is a broad and complex topic, and it can be hard to know where to start. Still, the first step is simple and straightforward: ensure you invite all the right people to the table to have the necessary conversations to make improvements and change toward inclusivity. If you know your organization doesn’t fully reflect the communities it serves, act by bringing in diverse voices to help, and determine what the next steps can be. Form committees and subcommittees, plan events, send out surveys, and coach your teams to realize all the benefits.
“It’s been challenging,” Olson said about her role and work with the committee. “It forces you to have uncomfortable conversations at times, but it is extremely rewarding.”
Olson describes her time serving on the CivicPlus DEIB committee as some of the most rewarding work she’s done or been a part of, saying, “It’s helped me so much in my day-to-day job because I’m interacting with customers and communities with different lenses of experiences from me. It helps build empathy. A lot of people, if they looked outward and tried to find tangible ways to impact their community, I think they would lead happier and more fulfilling lives.”