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Human Resources – October 5, 2020

Why Focusing on Diversity and Inclusion is Good for Your Workforce – and Your Business

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Organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace often have a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent, and typically see higher employee engagement – all of which can benefit your workforce and bottom line.

Creating a company culture that not only welcomes – but encourages – different viewpoints is not simply achieved overnight. In fact, leading companies say in order to achieve real systemic change, organizations must invest in a multi-pronged approach that creates a sense of belonging in the workplace and provides opportunities for employees to speak up. 

Beth Whitehead, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at American Savings Bank (ASB) says, “There’s no silver bullet to creating a workplace culture that is truly founded on diversity and inclusion. It involves looking at data, tracking it to see how you’re using it to make better decisions, changing your practices and behaviors, and creating a safe space for open, honest dialogue. This must be driven from the top by your leadership team and include everyone in your organization.”

As part of its commitment, ASB formed its Diversity Council, a group of highly engaged teammates that come up with ideas on driving equality and inclusivity at work. For decades, ASB has provided training on workplace safety and sexual harassment, required for all teammates. Since 2018, ASB has enhanced the training annually to further address current issues and practices around diversity and inclusion.

ASB also helped to found Safe Spaces and Workplaces, an initiative that fosters respect in workplaces statewide. Each October, the bank participates in Honolulu Pride Month, leveraging the event to celebrate and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community across the bank and state.

Whitehead adds that diverse viewpoints lead to innovation and stronger results. Teammates also have a sense of belonging, ownership and pride. These benefits are further validated through awards such as Hawaii Business’ Best Places to Work in Hawaii and Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Diversity – both of which ASB has been awarded.

“It’s important to remember that every single one of us has the choice and ability to live aloha and treat one another with dignity. You can start with actions as small as just talking to one another more and learning from different perspectives,” said Whitehead. “At ASB, we always welcome individuals from all walks of life and have a zero tolerance policy on racism, discrimination, or harassment of any kind.” 

Learn more about this topic at a free panel hosted by the Hawaii Employers Council on October 21, which will feature Whitehead and several other LGBTQ+ leaders.

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