As author Liz Fosslien once said, “Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.”
We want everyone to feel seen, heard, valued and respected. But that requires action based on fact, not assumption. And we don’t just want to take action for the sake of saying that we’re doing something. We want to support all Zebras and our communities in a very thoughtful way, even if that means taking action in new and different ways to create a culture of belonging. We’ve been focused on listening to the Zebra nation while also seeking inspiration from outside sources. The reality is that we’ll always raise the bar on ourselves to ensure we’re moving the needle on this important work, but the most important thing is that we continue to act. Though we still have a lot of listening and learning to do, Zebra is now taking substantive steps to drive change from the inside out right now.
Step One: Expand Our I&D Leadership Team
For years, there was one person spearheading all of Zebra’s I&D efforts with the help of a number of committees. While we made progress during that time, the executive leadership team felt it was critical to dedicate more resources to accelerate our progress. As a result, three new roles were created and filled in September to form an I&D and Employer Brand team, including mine. We will harness our collective energy and passion to build on our foundation to create meaningful momentum around the issues that matter most to our Zebra community and the global community.
Step Two: Listen Externally, Engage Internally
Right now, our priorities are to increase representation within Zebra Nation; give every person the opportunity to speak up about what he or she feels, needs and wants; and then develop programs that allow us to collaboratively progress toward our goal of creating a more inclusive workplace and society, where everyone feels they belong.
Our inclusion networks play a key role in all of this, and the I&D team is actively supporting the great work each network is doing.
§ Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN) – Zebra’s first inclusion network, launched in 2018.
§ Zebra Equality Alliance (ZEAL) – Launched May 2019 to support LGBTQ+ employees.
§ Veteran’s Network (VETZ) - Launched November 2019 (on Veterans Day) to support employees who have served in the military.
§ Zebras of African Descent (ZAD) – Launched February 2019 (during Black History Month) to support Black employees.
§ Empowering Dynamic Generational Employees (EDGE) – A group focused our next generation of talent launched August 2020 to support our Millennial and Gen Z employees. This is part of a larger multi-generational initiative that will help our employees successfully work between generations, engage in the exchanges of idea and retain intellectual intelligence as talent leaves the organization.
§ Unidoz – Launched September 2020 (during Hispanic Heritage Month) to support to our Hispanic and Latinx employees.
In fact, we hosted our first Leadership Summit for Inclusion Network leaders this summer to share ideas and best practices and arm them with the practical tools and resources they need to be successful. We realize that no one person or team can own I&D. We must collectively work to increase cultural competency across the organization and inspire even more champions of inclusion at every level of the organization. And though we may follow a similar formula for engagement, we don’t all have to take the same approach.
For example, all of our inclusion networks are hosting regular webinars and (virtual) coffee chats to give employees a safe space to ask and answer questions with the goal of breaking down stereotypes and promoting allyship. These “unplugged” type events allow participants to speak openly and honestly about how others’ views and actions makes them feel and give them an opportunity to have their voice heard while also learning more about hot button issues. There have been many courageous conversations this year among members of Zebra Nation – both one-on-one and in various virtual group forums.
We have also made a concerted effort to understand the career aspirations of both current employees and future talent to ensure we deliver fair and equitable professional development opportunities and foster an inclusive culture here at Zebra. Just recently, our inclusion networks teamed up with a Chicago college to host sessions intended to inspire students to lean into what makes them unique. We spoke about how they can bring their authentic selves to their future employers. We also showcased the career journeys of a diverse group of Zebra employees so that the students could see how people with similar backgrounds and beliefs were able to overcome personal obstacles, build their professional networks and achieve career success.
Step Three: Extend Our Support to Those Outside Zebra Nation
Volunteerism has always been core to Zebra’s Corporate Social Responsibility platform, so it is only natural for our inclusion network leaders and members to reach out and spend time supporting the communities in which they live, work and play. This summer, ZEAL, ZAD, VETZ and WIN partnered to raise money and volunteer with The Brave Space Alliance, which is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center located on the South Side of Chicago. It’s designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire LGBTQ community of Chicago, specifically (although not exclusively) the black and brown LGBTQ community. It provides vital career, government benefit and financial services; manages community supplies and food pantries; and drives community mobilization efforts.
At the same time, we are empowering our supply chain and procurement teams to diversify our supplier base, as Steve Williams recently spoke about in this blog post and podcast. I encourage you to listen to the 10-minute conversation to learn about the progress we’ve made thus far and how we plan to continue to build on our efforts in the coming year.
Our work will continue to evolve and expand as we learn more about how Zebra can best support our employees, their families and our communities. These are just a few of the many steps we’re taking to promote change, and our commitment to I&D has never been stronger.
In the coming months, we will share more updates about the progress Zebra is making to create a culture of belonging in our business and to foster a positive and lasting impact in our communities. In the meantime, I encourage you to subscribe to the Your Edge blog to receive notifications about new discussions.
You can also learn more about Zebra’s I&D commitment and get a full download on the numerous efforts being put forth by WIN, ZEAL and VETZ teams specifically in these blog posts: