DEI has also been shown to result in an estimated eight (8) times Return on Investment (ROI). A 2021 Forbes article enumerated positive outcomes linked with DEI, including 33 percent likelihood of higher profits at racially diverse organizations, and 21 percent likelihood of achieving better earnings with gender diversity.
Meanwhile many leaders and HR professionals, especially at small and medium businesses (SMBs), don’t know where to start to improve DEI and show ROI, and most don’t have the time and can’t afford experts to make progress. A recent Boston Consulting Group study indicates that 75% of the targeted employees say that they don’t personally benefit from their employers’ DEI efforts.
Sonya Sepahban, CEO of OurOffice, Inc., has witnessed these issues first-hand. Starting as a NASA engineer, she spent most of her career in a male-dominated industry. She was also the first senior executive from an under-represented group at a major corporation, where she tried to improve DEI with mixed results. She has seen it in the Boardrooms, and also hears it from her customers every day. In a conversation with Manage HR magazine’s editorial team, she shared her insights and how the three P’s help customers get results in DEI and workplace culture.
Could you please walk us through your offering and how it helps your clients?
We saw SMBs that knew they needed to focus on DEI to attract and retain talent, but didn’t know how to make progress, were too busy, or couldn’t afford to hire experts. We wanted to empower them with a proven Process, a Professional advisor, and a digital Platform -- what we call the “Three P’s” -- to improve DEI. Our simple and affordable package called DEI as a Service is a great fit for the 300,000 SMBs and their 70 million employees. It makes it easy for managers and HR to assess, plan, measure and track progress to show ROI. It also provides a safe environment for all employees to connect and engage in authentic conversations, build trust, and develop empathy and a sense of inclusion and belonging.
Please shed some more light on the methodology, features, and benefits involved.
Our methodology is based on the ACT process which we designed based on our lessons learned and lived experiences in helping many organizations. “The acronym “ACT” stands for Align, Connect and Transform, and also reminds us that ACTion is needed for progress. Our customers derive significant benefit from each step of the process.
The Align step is about defining and communicating DEI objectives that are linked with the organization’s strategic priorities to increase the visibility and sustainability of the objectives. For example, including diverse employee voices in their product development and marketing decisions has helped our customers attract broader audiences and expand markets.
We simplify building diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces for small and medium businesses to attract and retain talent
The Transform step is about measuring and tracking progress with 50 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), a central hub for best practices and initiatives, as well as professional guidance by OurOffice DEI Advisors throughout the journey.
Could you please cite any case study on how you have enabled clients to overcome hurdles and attain desired outcomes with your innovative solution?
One of our mid-west clients was having trouble engaging their employees with surveys, CEO webcasts and suggestion boxes. When they launched OurOffice, employees were excited to opt-in to browse and share experiences and ideas on the platform. We encouraged the leaders to occasionally post stories and react and respond to others, which provided a rare opportunity for direct visibility and engagement with employees. As a result, the employee engagement surged by four (4) times in the first month, the highest it had ever been. They also began to receive positive feedback from new hires about their onboarding experience, which converted them into brand ambassadors through their social networks.
Another client is a manufacturing company who was mostly focused on diversity hiring at the entry level. Once they started drilling down into their analytics on OurOffice platform, they noticed the gender and racial gap in management. This awareness naturally led them to make different business decisions, resulting in an increase of 35% in management diversity, as well as higher employee retention in the months that followed.
What strategies are employed by OurOffice to thwart market competition, and what are the key differentiating factors that give it a competitive edge?
We’re delighted that this space is growing with new thinking and solutions. Our strategy is to be the most affordable one stop shop for small and medium businesses to access everything they need to get better results faster from their DEI efforts -- i.e. the Process, the Professional guidance and the digital Platform. We are also constantly scanning the ecosystem and partnering with vetted third parties to save our customers the time to select, onboard and manage new vendors, and to meet their evolving needs for DEI training, coaching, workshops, branding, and so on, often at better prices than they can get on their own.
What does the future hold for your organization? Any footprint expansion plans or platform enhancement strategies that you can shed light upon?
As an agile team, our main area of focus is providing better insights faster to leaders, HR professionals and individual contributors to help them become more inclusive. We use machine learning to incorporate insights from our customers and DEI Advisors into the OurOffice platform through periodic updates. In addition, we have a DEI Institute where we conduct research and lead regular Future of Work Roundtables with experts and thought leaders to grow the body of knowledge for the community and add more value for our customers.
As for our footprint, our customers already represent iconic brands, publicly-traded companies, mission-oriented nonprofits and private firms across many diverse industries. Geographically, our plan is to make DEI as a Service available everywhere. There are exciting opportunities to add tailored solutions for specific regions based on their unique cultures and challenges.
To learn more, go to www.ouroffice.io, or email firstname.lastname@example.org