How We Challenged Ourselves To Improve Our Efforts In Making An Impact
By: Jessica Pelaez
As a B Corp since 2016, we believe in the power of business to drive social change. Our commitment to equality drives the way we do business;it keeps us focused, mission-driven, and ready to think about the impact of our business from different perspectives.
This year, we decided to once again take on B Corps’ Inclusive Economy Challenge, a global call to action that pushes companies to make measurable improvements to the way they do business based on their Inclusive Economy Metric Set. Last year, our metrics included diversity and inclusion, and financial services for employees.We learned so much from challenging ourselves and became a better company because of it.
This time around, we sought out to challenge ourselves in different ways and get the whole team on board with our work on energy efficiency, diversity and inclusion training, and management of diversity, equality, and inclusion.
Facility and Energy Efficiency
Every effort counts when working to make the world a better place. Although we don’t own our office space, we take every opportunity to be as energy efficient as possible. We started with our energy consumption: we set up automatic timers on all of our electronics, transitioned to high efficiency task lighting where possible, and switched to CF light bulbs.
We also sat down with employees to gather ideas and suggestions for ways we could be more eco-friendly. We now collect plastic bags in one place so that we can recycle them properly at a retail store, and continue to emphasize the importance of refusing single-use plastics. We cut our use of the dishwasher, a convenience that can be wasteful when it’s not used consciously. We carry our daily compost for recycling to Bryant Park, and posted a list of eco-friendly challenges and suggestions for employees to try in the office and at home. A member of our team even provided hand towels and bars of her handcrafted, eco-friendly soap for us to use in lieu of the plastic-packaged alternatives.
Diversity and Inclusion Training
Each month, we invite a speaker to our office to teach us more about topics we care about as a team. This year, we saw it as an opportunity to expand our understanding of topics that will help us be more inclusive as a company. While we know that members of our team are personally committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, it never hurts to get an education!
As with many companies, Discrimination and Harassment training was a high priority. We completed this first with specific, individual courses for managers and employees.
Our second training, on empathy, was facilitated during one of our monthly Community Hours, which is a safe space for the team to talk about what’s going on in the world and what’s weighing on us, and where our team already feels comfortable speaking up. The Empathy training coincided with our Leading With Empathy Series, where we’re hosting a series of community events around creating an empathetic work environment. In addition to our training, employees are able to attend and participate in these events as ongoing learning and development.
We also wanted to educate ourselves on cross-cultural interaction. We hostedaLunch and Learnled by a member of EllevateHER, ourscholarship program where we grant year-long memberships to the women in our community who might otherwise be unable to access Ellevate’s resources. The Lunch and Learn was impactful in ways we couldn’t have imaged. We went deeper than cross-cultural interactions with members of our community and outside the workplace, and discussed cultural competency within the team. Afterwards, we discussed ways we could make this an ongoing conversation.
Management of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
This year, we created an internship that would have a real impact on women who want to learn about the business world. We’ve always had a diverse group of interns, so our focus this time around was on providing a program that would not only allow them to put theory into practice, but also help them build skills that they can apply to their future careers. We developed a structured internship program where interns work on cross-team projects and get exposure to different areas of the business, as well as a series of bi-weekly professional skills workshops and one-on-ones with a manager to discuss professional development.
It was exciting to see the team come together and build on top of what was required for the Inclusive Economy Challenge. Once again, we rallied around what we believed could make a difference. Ellevate Network will continue to find ways to improve all areas of our business — and we’re looking forward to the next challenge!