Making diversity reality, not a goal: HQ Raleigh’s journey to intentional inclusive innovation

RALEIGH – The beginning of February marks the start of Black History month. Traditionally, this is the one month (and unfortunately sometimes the only month) when organizations highlight their diversity efforts. Two years ago, this might have been our only approach to diversity and inclusion as well. We were a company with a great culture and incredible core values so we felt that by having a warm, compassionate environment, we were building an inclusive culture. However, this was before we learned the importance of being intentional.

My journey to truly understanding diversity and inclusion came in late 2016 following a conversation with community leader, Ken Lewis and HQ co-founder, Christopher Gergen. Ken and Christopher found themselves having the same conversations about diversity and inclusion with startups and large companies in the Triangle Area. Everyone wanted to do the right thing but pointed back to having “pipeline” issues or saying that they would hire more diverse candidates but “the candidates just weren’t there.” Ken and Christopher found themselves in front of well-meaning companies who became involved in different activities, but lacked the readiness to move the needle. So together they developed the Triangle Diversity Business Council which is a collective group of companies in the Triangle who want to be more intentional about increasing diversity at the leadership level and building inclusive cultures to match. As a part of this membership, companies sign the “Diversity Pledge” which underlines their general commitment to diversity and inclusion, specifically asking them to implement the Rooney Rule and to track and publish their data.

Following the inception of this organization, HQ decided that while we were creating an authentic culture ourselves, we needed to be far more intentional in diversifying our team and our community.  So in 2016, we added a new core value, “Embrace Diversity.”

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By Jess Porta