Company Core Values: A Core Value of Diversity and Inclusion Takes a Commitment to Action
2022 is a big year for us; ArcherPoint is celebrating our 20th anniversary as a Microsoft Dynamics Gold ERP Partner for Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central. We believe our success is in part due to our strong core values, which we intentionally incorporate into our culture. In several articles, we discuss those values, how we decided on them, and what each looks like in daily practice. We have coveredBuilding an Enduring Tribe, Delighting Clients with Amazing Work, and Learning and Always Challenging. The last value we’ll discuss is arguably one of our most challenging and thought-provoking, but also the one of which we are most proud: Cultivating an Environment of Inclusion and Belonging that welcomes and honors diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and origin.
As we discussed in the blog where we introduced our Core Value blog series, the first three core values served us well for 10 years, but major events in our world in 2020 compelled us to take another look at them and add this fourth Core Value. In this blog, we share what went into crafting this Core Value and how we strive to honor it. To learn more, I talked with Tammy Fawcett, ArcherPoint’s COO, Debbie Shumake, Culture Champion and head of Talent and Leadership Development for ArcherPoint, and Matt Cypher, ArcherPoint’s Recruiting Manager, who spearheaded the rollout in 2021 of this new Core Value and was the winner of ArcherPoint’s 2021 Core Value Award for Cultivating an Environment of Inclusion and Belonging.
Time for a Change
Everyone is aware that 2020 and 2021 were turbulent and paradigm-shifting times. On top of the COVID-19 pandemic, major events shone a light on deep racism, sexism, and systemic oppression in our world. We started having conversations we had never had before—more regular conversations around diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity. Although many things in our company culture implied that we care about, value, and respect one another, we began to ask how we as a company wanted to be thinking—and more importantly, acting outwardly—and how would this become part of our culture? We needed to clarify our position and figure out the best way to communicate and live it.
The logical place to start, then, was with our Core Values. Embracing diversity, inclusion and belonging is something that needs to be stated explicitly and unequivocally.
But how would we decide what we wanted to say—where every word would carry so much weight?
It Started with Just Talking
We started by simply talking…meeting every two or three weeks to get a dialogue going around diversity, inclusion and belonging. We started thinking, we know this company cares about our people and our customers; that’s always been clear to us. But we also started feeling like we owed it to the world and the communities in which we live and work to take a stand.
To be completely transparent, there was a lot of debate over how explicit we wanted to be. We did not want to pander nor jump on the bandwagon; we wanted to be specific about what this value truly means for us–realizing, of course, that we would need to ensure our actions and policies were in alignment with that value to demonstrate our sincerity. We did not want to be performative; that would be an insult to everyone who has struggled or fought for inclusion.
At the same time, it was a little scary! Today’s issues can be polarizing, and we did not want to scare people away…or did we? When we turned that argument around and asked, what if we don’t want someone who doesn’t share this value to work at our company? Our answer to that question was that, if our Core Value repelled someone, we would not want them to be part of our organization. That clarified our position, and we moved on.
The next step was to discuss specific language without watering down our message. The language had to contain a “tension”—something we include in all of our Core Values, which clarifies the message so there is no misinterpreting it. As Greg Kaupp, our CEO, once said about tensions: Core values are meant to both attract and repel. We were confident that, if we stated our position clearly, we would attract people who would live and breathe our Core Values with us at ArcherPoint.
We added the new core value in 2021 with very positive response from employees. Granted, this is an area this is changing constantly, with language and everything else evolving very quickly, so we have to keep a close eye on this Core Value in particular to make sure it stands up in a sea of change. We also know our discussions around these issues will be challenging—and that’s ok. Having the conversation is important, and as long as we are willing to have those conversations, we know we’re on the right track.
Walking the Walk
With the Core Value set, the other half of this equation is ensuring we’re walking the walk. How are we behaving as a company to support that core value? Of course, we make sure employees understand how to communicate and work together respectfully, which we have always strived to do. Here are a few ways we walk the walk:
- This one might surprise you. Every year, our CEO and CFO conduct a review around gender pay equality to make sure women and men are compensated equally. We are also proud that we have diversity in our leadership team, although we’re always striving for more.
- We implemented an inclusive holiday schedule. Most North American companies’ holiday schedules revolve around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so forth. We got feedback from employees saying they preferred time off for Hanukkah or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day rather than, for example, Christmas or the day after Thanksgiving. It was an easy transition; we simply offered employees the opportunity to swap out up to two of the company holidays with another day of their choice. There are no restrictions; it’s up to the employee. This benefits all our employees, not just those in North America.
If we don’t do things like this, that core value has no meaning, and we are disingenuous, which we definitely do not want. Our goal is to be a part of the solution, and that means acting in a way that represents who we say we are. That’s why we have a diversity advisory board, with 10 members from all levels of the company, that meets regularly and works on formulating approaches to living more fully into our newest Core Value.
Promoting Diversity in the Industry
Tammy Fawcett, ArcherPoint’s COO, had a lot to say about promoting diversity in the technology industry:
“My passion here started like so many women in any tech industry who have been in the business for any length of time. I am that person that, meeting after meeting, conference after conference, year after year, I was the only female in the room. No one expected a woman outside of payroll or accounts payable as an end user. Even as a teenager, I attended a weeks-long summer program at a university in Michigan for computer programming, and I was only female. The college wasn’t prepared for that, so they had to put me in VIP housing because I couldn’t stay in the dorm with the men.”
Later, I had my own business, and the women who were good candidates were often in their childbearing years. Without having flexibility to work around someone with a family, we would lose excellent talent. That is something that has carried through to ArcherPoint and has expanded to include other groups for me. While some of the limitations (or perceived limitations) that held people back even a couple of years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic had a positive impact, making it “normal” to see and hear children in the background, to accept as normal the idea of flexible schedules, and so on.
ArcherPoint is doing well, at roughly 50/50 men and women, but we need to dig deeper to bring more diversity. We need to go into the middle schools and find out why women are dropping out of technology education in the 8th grade. We need to find ways to encourage them and equip them with internet access and more to pursue these avenues. We are always looking for programs or initiatives to get involved with. For example, we joined with Mouse, a national youth development nonprofit that empowers youth and educators to engage with computer science and creative technology, fostering greater diversity and humanity in STEM. We’re also looking to get involved with programs being spearheaded by Microsoft.”
So far, we believe we’re on the right track. Candidates during the hiring process as well as current employees have expressed their appreciation for our newest Core Value. We hope this will help us attract and retain an even more diverse population of talented candidates. But also, we need to connect with younger people to get them interested in pursuing careers in technology and encouraging them to stick with it through high school and college. We need to continually look for ways we can be more inclusive and encourage diversity in our organization. That’s no easy feat, and it’s a job that does not end, but we’ll keep looking for opportunities, avenues, and partners.
Join the ArcherPoint Team
Does this core value sound compelling? Would you like to work for an organization that truly values diversity, inclusion, and belonging? Then we invite you to explore employment opportunities with ArcherPoint.