One of the most significant decisions we have made at IMS in recent years has been to fully embrace the essential nature of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) practices. We recognize that each of these elements is of vital importance to the health and success of our employees and our company.
Beginning in 2019, IMS formalized an initiative to integrate all aspects of DEIB into our leadership philosophy and workplace culture. We thoughtfully considered diversity and equity within our organization to implement change and establish sustainable programs. During this time, we have seen firsthand the individual value and collective benefit of an inclusive approach.
Understanding & Fostering Inclusion
The mind naturally categorizes our surroundings—including the people we meet—to help us process and recall information. However, these classifications can intrinsically prevent us from recognizing individual differences among the whole. When we act only on existing beliefs and personal experiences, we run the risk of exclusion based on assumptions. Still, inclusion is not simply the absence of exclusion; it’s more complex.
Promoting inclusion goes beyond preventing the sidelining of others due to stereotypes or discrimination. Inclusion efforts go beyond the procedures that are part of diversity and equity work—like changes to company recruitment and hiring processes—into areas that focus on using empathy. They center on educating, exploring different perspectives, and understanding how or why someone might be biased (often without realizing it). Additionally, they provide safe opportunities to look at personal biases without judgment and encourage appreciation of each employee’s uniqueness.
Inclusion initiatives also protect the “authenticity” of employees; in other words, they promote the celebration and appreciation of every person’s true identity. IMS’ inclusion programs are built around a genuine desire for all employees to embrace one another’s experiences and daily realities. They represent a genuine effort to “leave no one behind” and eliminate barriers to teamwork, confidence, collaboration, and passion of purpose. Ultimately, these initiatives create an environment where people not only feel included—they feel they belong.
The Impact of Inclusion Programs
IMS conducts itself mindfully with five core values that, when combined, articulate the principles that propel us forward to deliver and frequently exceed our clients’ needs. These core values have not only given IMS a competitive edge but also reinforced the demand for sustained high-caliber output.
IMS Core Values
As the modern workplace evolves, we are prescient about the most intelligent options for evolving and remaining relevant. And as current societal changes loom large, inclusion—along with diversity, equity, and belonging—is of deep relevance, both as a concept and a reality. At IMS, the concept of inclusivity merges elegantly with the ideals we have as a company and enables continuous improvement.
How, then, do the benefits of active inclusion programs become tangible? It is with 1) commitment from leaders, 2) the appointment of managers dedicated to planning and implementing programs and initiatives, and 3) consistent, meaningful action. An honest assessment of feedback is also crucial. Like most corporate undertakings, there is both an analytical and an anecdotal manner of evaluating shorter-term impact. If there is optimal integration, the success is experienced on a thoroughly personal level by each employee, as well as reflected in hard data such as quarterly earnings, percentage of repeat clients, or new business earned.
The goal of inclusion initiatives may be aspirational in nature as well. For instance, IMS strives to foster lasting inclusivity by building community, trust, ease, connection, understanding, and flexibility. Each of these is a reasonable objective that can be isolated to drive innovation in its pursuit:
- Building Community: Engage in activities that seek to build shared experiences, such as service projects, especially of other cultures, lifestyles, ethnicities, and traditions, and create interpersonal relationships based on a sense of team, and supportive attitudes, across all functional groups and up and down the organization.
- Building Trust: Ensure that individuals are provided opportunities to manage bigger responsibilities, lead a project, or implement a new approach with positive and fruitful coaching from peers.
- Building Ease: Create programs that legitimize authenticity, encouraging every employee to arrive at work as their authentic selves without fear of judgment from colleagues.
- Building Connection: Focus on celebrating the importance of employees to the company, up and down the organization, and highlighting the “wonderful differences” instead of the “other”. Consider affinity groups.
- Building Understanding: Utilize panels, speakers, roundtables, forums, and other facilitated or mentored programs to forge a new understanding of others’ worlds and life experiences.
- Building Flexibility: Include experiences in which each employee knows that they have an equal and valid voice, promoting exploration of varying viewpoints and fostering innovation for the longer term.
Culture & Clients
There are additional advantages to consistent DEIB program implementation beyond achieving the goals described above. When a company devotes financial and human resources to its inclusion targets—such as IMS has—there are positive outcomes that make as much business sense as they do personal sense:
- Focusing on inclusion allows team members to experience a new way of collaborating as a tight-knit group, free from stressful labels. It leads to work that is more enjoyable, successful, and innovative.
- By reducing or removing the stressors arising from a non-inclusive corporate culture, we can redirect energy from negative to positive undertakings and ultimately work more creatively and effectively for our clients.
- With a new or renewed awareness of how bias can inflict even unintentional damage, team members are better equipped to approach colleagues with intention and mindfulness (making all feel more valued and heard) and deliver our best work.
- By acting as community members in good faith, we serve as examples to ourselves and others of how to live in a more genuine and empathetic fashion, both in and out of the workplace. All of this leads to tighter alignment between strategic business goals and core values, enabling continued growth.
IMS Is Proud to Value Inclusion
The journey to DEIB success (however you measure it) may be an ongoing one, but there is no doubt it is worthwhile. IMS has established a number of effective initiatives to not only foster inclusion but also celebrate diversity, encourage equity, and inspire belonging. We are excited and grateful for the opportunity to create more valuable change in the future by continuing to invest in speakers, programs, and experiences that support our amazing team members, clients, and professional and local communities.