Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Town Hall: It’s Our Humanity

We are thrilled to have just surpassed 18 months since formalizing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative company-wide at Forrest Solutions:  We Are One. One and a half years later, we are proud not only of the gains we have made to create an environment of inclusion, diversity, openness, and respect for the many differences that enrich Forrest Solutions’ culture, but of how we share this progress transparently so that we may continue to grow.  Some of the key pillars of community that have helped us get here include:

  • Listening, learning, and acting
  • Committing to a culture where differences are valued
  • Encouraging dialogue of diverse ideas, topics, and issues enabling others to learn from this exchange
  • Promoting employment and leadership opportunities
  • Striving to prepare staff from all backgrounds to foster respect, understanding, awareness, diversity, and cooperation

Last week, we reviewed the successes of this first 18 months as well as how much farther we desire to go in our bi-annual We Are One Town Hall company-wide event. Led by Chief Operating Officer, Juan Pazmino and Head of Learning, Leadership and Career Development, Janet Wise, we were thrilled to see over 200 employees actively engaged as we reviewed the proactive efforts that have helped us all move closer to our goals.

During the November 2021 Town Hall, the Diversity Dialogue Series kicked off with Ivan Cage, Master Facilitator and External Learning Partner leading a brief session focused on Unconscious bias. Ivan’s objective was to Raise Awareness, and increase the Diversity IQ of those in attendance by:

  • Looking at how and why your personal view of the world unconsciously influences “what we see”
  • Identifying ways to expand your thinking to be more inclusive and conscious of the preconceptions we are all prone to
  • WE ARE ONE – it’s our humanity

Following the Town Hall, the following comments were received from Forrest Solutions employees:

“Forrest Solutions has made great strides in creating an environment where people are free to discuss their ideas and experiences without fear of repercussions. The Diversity Dialogue Series were an eye opener.”

“Forrest Solutions reinforced to me we are serious about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. WE are ONE. Very Thankful and proud to be a part of We are ONE here at Forrest Solutions.”

One of the highlights of this past year include the implementation of an internal development Leaders Program or as it is known, L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Excellence, Acceleration, and Development). L.E.A.D. currently has 55 enthusiastic participants from offices across the country. The program is comprised of interactive digital learnings, virtual classroom sessions, peer-to-peer collaboration forums, and personal executive coaching. To learn more about L.E.A.D. read our blog post here.

Another powerful resource established this year was the publishing of our Calendar of Diversity Events. This calendar, emailed monthly by Human Resources, outlines important dates and events celebrated and honored by diverse groups. Since the implementation of the calendar, Forrest Solutions has celebrated Pride Month, Juneteenth, Women’s Equality Day, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Native American Heritage Month, Veteran’s Day, International Day of Tolerance and many others through rich and integrated content campaigns to help highlight and educate a broad audience on the meaning of these celebrations.

Some other major highlights of the past year include:

  • Hosting multiple Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webinars
  • Updating New Hire Orientation—Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from day one
  • Adding pronouns to all employee signatures
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workplace Certificate Program via the University of South Florida Muma College of Business
  • Partnership with PHIPPS Neighborhoods Summer Youth Employment Program

While we are proud of the advances we have made, it is important to recognize that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a continual process that requires long term commitment to stay steady and continue our efforts into next year. Over the last remaining weeks of 2021 and over a majority of Q1 2022, Forrest Solutions plans to amplify diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by:

  • Updating our employee handbook to include proper pronoun usage
  • Continue with the Diversity Dialogue Series with industry leading subject matter experts focused on Diversity Equity and Inclusion topics during the Town Halls
  • Create a Women’s Initiative: The Branding Room at Work – A Vital Voice Series where women authors and influential business leaders are invited to Forrest Solutions to give selected readings and participate in meaningful round table discussions surrounding different topics like imposter syndrome, personal branding, what to say when you’re at the table, and how to build confidence.

At Forrest Solutions, we see the bi-annual Town Hall events; the ‘We are One’ campaign; and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative not only as a way to foster a company culture that is inclusive to all groups of people, but as a way to invest in our employees. By creating a space that is safe, open, and values many voices, we believe Forrest Solutions becomes a more dynamic and productive place for all of us.