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Diversity + Inclusion: A Clarity Conversation

Team Clarity recently started using Crescendo, an app that easily integrates into Slack that is designed to motivate employees to take inclusive actions at work. So far, we are enjoying this D&I education tool and highly recommend it if your company uses Slack. Stefan Kollenberg, CMO and Co-Founder of Crescendo, has tapped our Director of Communications for a conversation about Clarity’s D&I journey for a story on Crescendo’s blog! The abridged story can be found here, but we enjoyed the full conversation so much that we also wanted to share it with you here on The Watercooler. Keep reading to learn more about our D&I education journey, and how starting small can make a big difference. Thank you Stefan for collaborating with us!

Stefan: Tell us about why D&I is important to Clarity…

Serena: D&I is important to Clarity on several levels. For starters, one of our core values is humanity, and we believe that all people of all kinds deserve access to tools and resources to advance their careers. We also believe this value begins within our walls, and a behavior that embodies it is our ability to embrace and be open to each other’s differences. We’re in the business of people after all, and introducing amazing job seekers to professional opportunities in environments where they can do just that. An understanding, acceptance and openness to people of all backgrounds is critical to us achieving our goal which is to build better teams. By cultivating a culture where everyone inside our walls can feel a sense of belonging, we become better equipped to communicate with others, and foster inclusive recruitment practices for our clients. The positive impact this has on our business is enormous ー goodbye are the days of homogeneous environments and closed mindedness! Today, especially in New York + Atlanta, our core markets, it is well known that diverse + inclusive environments not only make people feel most comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work –which drives individual performance– it also improves the bottom line of a business at large. There are only winners on a team when it considers inclusion a priority!

Stefan: Thank you for explaining this! It’s great to hear that D&I awareness is ingrained in your values. How do you put this into action?

As recruiters, we have the good fortune of attracting a very diverse array of candidates here in New York City ー we recruit across many established and emerging funnels and networks. As far as our internal team, we hail from many different places and backgrounds ourselves. In increasingly sensitive times, we knew howeverーupon recent self-reflection of our brand-identityー that we weren’t doing enough to thoughtfully encourage conversation around difference as our team grew. One of the first steps we took ー a BIG one ー was to engage in a full-scale rebrand which culminated in new messaging, an articulated mission statement, and values that were sourced by our genuine behaviors inside our walls… and a new website to reflect it all. Doing this set a new tone, and helped us tell a story of who we really are – a company that cares about all people. This was great! But then, we needed to take further steps to consistently deliver the message to our team that difficult conversations are opportunities for growth and understanding. We’d researched many programs for D&I training and attended industry events to source ideas. Nothing felt quite right… we sought options to meet our business where we were at. When our L&D Coordinator (shout out to Kolt Free!) and myself  found Crescendo through a connection on Linkedin, it felt like a natural fit. It integrated right into the platform we all live on ー Slack! We felt hopeful that this tool would ensure continuous learning, and wouldn’t simply be a flash-in-the-pan 1-Day immersion that would be in one ear and out the other. 

Crescendo is a big part of our D&I program now, and it is coupled with Clarity U, our professional development series led by internal team experts and occasional outside guests. Clarity U has a subset dedicated to D&I learning + initiatives ー we built in our introduction to Crescendo into a Clarity U session! Fortunately, at Clarity we have Executive buy-in from our CEO (Moira Dorst) as well as Head of People (Colleen Robson), who are at the core of an affinity group that organically formed that includes myself and Kolt.  This team is dedicated to sourcing programming ideas for the D&I subset of Clarity U, and tools we can use here in order to foster inclusion inside our walls and out.

In the future, we’d love to host more external experts to talk to our team about tactics, strategies, and success stories of integrating inclusion into the workplace. We look forward to a day when businesses don’t need special affinity group for this, nor will be need a plethora of acronyms ー it will just BE who we ARE! We’re fortunate our whole team cares about these issues and actively opens their minds everyday to help us build our culture of learning. With Crescendo humming ーeven if quietly amidst our crazy-busy daysーit helps.

Stefan: Can you explain more about how Crescendo is helping?

Serena: Seamless integration into the way we already workー Slack! We love the seamless integration! We live on Slack, so this makes it easy to consistently be introduced to new ideas, at times that work for us. We’re seeing peoples’ comfort levels rise with difficult subject matter, and, we’ve recently seen a  trend of people desiring to take conversations offline and set up mini “Crescendo Chats” in our cozy living room. The biggest problem with Slack is tone… sometimes it’s imperceptible. Chatting IRL (as the kids say… ha!) can alleviate ambiguity, and clarify thoughts. It can also create an even safer space when people choose to interact face to face. That’s how we conduct business with our candidates and clients after all, so seeing more of this happen in the office and introducing complex ideas and how to communicate them, helps us do our jobs better.

Stefan: Anything you’d like to add about how other companies can get started?

Serena: It’s so easy! Really, SO easy. I also have to say that the Crescendo Team has been amazing so far ー they’re so easy to talk to and obviously dedicated to not only helping us reach our goals, but to building a really special tool that can help ANY business, especially those already on Slack (yes, I’m talking about YOU, Stefan! And a shout-out to Hannah, of course!). They really consider our feedback too, and are iterating the product when possible. It’s a great way to integrate conversation around D&I topics in a way that doesn’t feel invasive or forced. We know that at Clarity, our Team is our greatest asset, and this is helping people learn to understand each other in new ways, which will hopefully positively impact how we work together on an ongoing basis. Highly recommend! Oh, and check out their tips for How to Get Started with D&I at your company!

 

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