We often hear the buzz words diversity, inclusion and employee retention — especially when it comes to big business — but what do those words really mean for today’s employee in a market where many professionals are underemployed, causing companies to lose billions in revenues.
Many successful companies have addressed the dilemma, adjusting their leadership and engagement strategies to ensure retention and promote environments that will attract quality job candidates.
One company seeking to do just that is MillerCoors, which recently partnered with Velvet Suite Marketing Consulting Group Inc. to develop a program to bridge the oftentimes wide gap between upper management and employees. Their leadership retreat, “The MillerCoors African American Forum” which began today and will continue through tomorrow, Sept. 27, is designed to bring a fresh approach to the development and retention of top black talent.
“The purpose was to gather people together under the theme of empowering them as leaders,” says Kedric George, MillerCoors brand manager. “We want to serve as a mechanism to facilitate personal and professional development.”
Attendees will have the chance to interact with not only one another, but top executives at a company with both national and international breweries and offices.
“We’ve developed a program that’s innovative, that brings in everything from how they’re mentally developing, to being able to create their own authentic identity, to nutrition and wellness, to competency as it relates to skill-building to be successful on their job,” says Melissa Johnson, Velvet Suite Marketing president.
In such a global and competitive market, initiating diversity, inclusion and employee engagement activities can be beneficial for leaders at companies small and large. Take a cue from the planned leadership elements encompassed in MillerCoors’ program that could facilitate retention— and ultimate success for you and your company:
Commitment by senior leaders to interact organically with teams and employees: “There’s commitment from the top down,” George says. The visible support of senior leaders to attend panels, speak and be present is both unique and vital.
Creative activities to encourage peer interactions: “One of the things we’ve done here is Speed Networking. It’s akin almost to Speed Dating,” George says. “We put [C-suite] leaders at a table and had them move around the room, spending about 15 minutes with about six or seven people, just talking about opportunities, getting to know each other, and building a more personal relationship.” It’s a great way to connect what can be thousands of people at one company with only a handful of senior executives.
Environment of transparency and open dialogue: George adds that it’s important all employees — of all ethnicities, experiences and backgrounds— communicate with senior leaders about what would make the work environment a prime place to be. “We’ve invited these senior leaders to help us understand what leadership looks like, how we can better our careers, what’s the vision for the company— particularly from a diversity and inclusion perspective,” he adds. “And the second part of the dialogue is that we get to speak to them and talk about our efforts and what we look for as employees, and what are some of our challenges.”