Dr. William T. Lewis, Founder and President, WillHouse GlobalDr. William T. Lewis, Founder and President
Today, every business is adopting innovative diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies to nurture a more positive workplace, generate fresh insights, promote shared experience, improve productivity, and increase profit margin. Large enterprises often do not find it difficult to pivot their strategies with the changing business environment as they can easily hire a full-time consultant or consulting firm to implement and manage new DEI initiatives. However, it is not the same for SMBs. Most of them have a limited budget to allocate specifically for full-time dedicated consultants or DEI training programs.

This is where WillHouse Global makes a world of difference by offering DEI services at an affordable price. Founded by highly experienced and enthusiastic DEI expert Dr. William T. Lewis, the company helps businesses build a winning organizational culture of belonging. WillHouse Global believes, when you create a sense of belonging, employees begin to take ownership of their work, meaning they take personal responsibility for the quality and value they contribute within the organization.

In an interview with Manage HR, Dr. Lewis shares his insights into how the DEI industry has evolved and how WillHouse Global helps clients meet their current needs.

Please tell us about how the DEI has become a significant aspect for businesses over the years.

I have been in the DEI space for nearly 20 years now, and in my opinion, the landscape has shifted to a point where it is seen as a strategic priority instead of just a perk. About two decades ago, it was viewed as a check-the-box task. But, today, companies have realized the importance of bringing in the different schools of thought, different perspectives, and different experiences to tap into a degree of innovation that they couldn’t get in the past in the absence of DEI and a culture of belonging.

There is no doubt that companies have realized that strategic DEI practices provide them with highly skilled talent and increased ability to maintain or move into new markets that they otherwise wouldn’t have been. After the 2020 racial unrest, the relevance of DEI has completely changed. Companies such as Target and Starbucks had also stood against racism and supported the “black lives matter” moment. Companies have started talking about racism openly and making public statements against it. They are taking different initiatives to fight racism. For example, Walt Disney has introduced “black Santa” for the first time. This will help normalize the fact that we live in a multicultural society, and Santa Claus can be of different colors to represent different people within this multicultural society

We envision providing our clients with a community where they never feel isolated and alone

What are the challenges you are currently observing in the marketplace today when it comes to implementing DEI initiatives within an organization?

One of the biggest challenges is introducing the DEI in an organization as it is a change management strategy. We are looking at change management through a DEI lens, as DEI is about changing the structure and culture within the organization. So to bring any organizational change, be it around technology, diversity, sustainability, or the employee experience, the first step we take is to train. However, before training, we need data to know the various aspects that we need to train clients on. The most difficult task is to obtain data related to DEI, including how clients’ culture is, how their people respond to a culture of belonging, and what are their pain points. After understanding the pain points around DEI with a complete assessment, we decide on the type of training, policy change, or any other solution that fits clients’ needs.

Could you elaborate on the services that you deliver to meet clients’ unique demands?

Our proprietary Culture of Belonging Framework is all about obtaining the right insights and information needed to implement any training or change within an organization. The framework looks at seven business levers within a company, including leadership, employee experience, policies and practices, accountability, customer experience, employer choice, and organizational values. Our proprietary survey provides clients with questions related to these seven business levers that drive an organization. We look at these pillars from a culture of belonging lens, and the responses to the questions allow us to pinpoint an aggregate where a client is on a scale from one to five and where they get the lowest score. After analyzing the low score areas, we help clients dedicate more resources toward those.

Unlike others, we are not just a consulting firm but a company that looks at data and technology to deliver the right insights. Our DEI transformative leader vaults is a membership program with three tiers. With each tier, the price point differs, but it allows companies to receive information, resources, and consultation wherever they are within their budgets. Our highest tier cost is $18,000 a year. We are making it affordable for clients to obtain the necessary resources, consulting, and advice while being a part of a community of diversity experts and leaders from across the country, where they can learn, share, and grow.

Could you give us a customer success story?

We have worked with a prominent local nonprofit organization for about six months. Working with the organization’s board, we facilitated brave conversations around race and racism in America, explicitly addressing inequities within local communities. Initially, when we started, the board members were apprehensive about having the conversation on race. But by the time we finished our six-month session, they had transitioned entirely and were willing to open up and engage in the discussions and share their experiences.

What is the key differentiator that sets you apart from others, and what does the future look like for the company? We always try to get more value than what the client pays for. Taking a relational approach instead of transactional, we believe in exceeding the clients’ expectations. As a result, we are rewarded with repeat customers afterward. As we advance, we plan to look at sentiment analysis and predictive analysis for our culture of belonging survey instead of just focusing on the survey process. Our aim is to move from a consulting company to a tech company in three to five years. We also plan to scale our DEI transformative leader vault to become a national model of providing affordable DEI services and solutions to our clients

We envision providing our clients with a community where they never feel isolated and alone. When they are part of our community, they will always have people to engage with, to learn from, to have a shoulder to cry on, someone to call, and to celebrate success with.