As Summus Group has grown from a small startup in 2012 to a present-day 65+ person company, we realized the need to enhance our internal structures and initiatives to reflect this growth.
We wanted to ensure we were able to maintain the same close-knit and connected community feel as when we were first starting out. Our core values continue to tie our associates together, fostering an environment of respect and inclusion. However, in order to ensure all employees feel a sense of belonging at Summus, we knew we needed to create a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council. The council was established to promote our employees bringing their full selves to work, set milestones to track our progress, and to continue fostering a welcoming working environment for all.
How did the DE&I Council get started?
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council was created in the middle of 2020 by a group of passionate individuals lead by council chair Liz Sykes (Senior Principal) and her chief of staff, Christa Harris (Associate). As Summus Group grew in size, these individuals recognized the need to establish a framework that would support and expand on our beliefs and core values to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts have been shown to fuel creativity and innovation among employees. A culture of inclusion and equity leads to higher employee morale, higher retention rates, and greater ability to recruit new diverse talent.
The DE&I Mission is to “prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a strategic focus by implementing and normalizing best practices in a way that evolves DE&I from a set of initiatives to a philosophy that is engrained in the Summus Group culture and core values”.
The objectives for this team include weaving DE&I practices into existing organizational structures, increasing diversity in our teams and leadership via recruiting and talent development, fostering an environment of inclusivity, defining and tracking towards target metrics, and increasing associate awareness and training to celebrate diversity.
What are the accomplishments of the DE&I Council so far?
The end of 2020 was spent getting focused and intentional on what the council would like to accomplish. This time was used to collaborate with senior leaders and associates to understand desired results of the Council’s objectives, and broadly define target goals.
Through these discussions, four functional areas were created to make up the DE&I Council: Talent and Acquisition, Inclusive Internal Environment, Diverse Partnerships, and Metrics/KPIs. Each area has a dedicated leader, purpose, and set of initiatives.
The Talent and Acquisition focus area is responsible for supporting team member diversity and inclusion by implementing robust recruiting and retention practices. The Inclusive Internal Environment focus area directly supports the development, advancement, and engagement of associates. The Diverse Partnerships focus area ensures that Summus Group identifies new networks and improves existing relationships with diverse suppliers and client segments. The Metrics and KPIs focus area defines targets for associate recruiting, development, engagement, and retention to ensure that Summus Group is reaching its fullest potential in hiring and retaining diverse talent.
Inclusive Environment – Led by Megan Rineman, HR Generalist: Megan notes that “the switch to a virtual work environment encouraged the team to find creative ways to enhance virtual engagement activities. We focused on ways to enhance engagement through partnerships with our Social Media, Consulting Practice, and Account Management teams. We implemented a ‘Summus Shoutout’ program that gives a virtual shoutout to associates who are going above and beyond by getting immersed in higher learning, attaining certifications, and demonstrating core values.”
“We also utilized our quarterly leadership engagement discussions to facilitate small group “culture conversations” to openly discuss what culture means to our associates. From these sessions we touched on a wide variety of topics such as what does a positive inclusive work culture mean to leadership and individuals within Summus, diversifying the candidate pool, and how to recognize unconscious bias.”
Metrics and KPIs Team – Led by Greg McNamara, Senior Principal: Meaghan Colby, an active Metrics and KPIs Team member, said that “the team has evaluated current state demographics of our firm, external demographics of similar firms, and will be establishing benchmarks based on three industries: consulting, tech, and banking. We will compare our current state to benchmarks and set targets for the 2021 fiscal year for DE&I. Our recommendations will be supported by a 50+ question survey that a group of associates have put together in order to better understand our current state in terms of DE&I.”
Talent and Acquisition – Led by Grayson Blair, Managing Director and Jacqueline Parnell, Talent Specialist: The Talent and Acquisition team restructured the current interview process by diversifying the interviewer pool and providing robust interviewer training. Jacqueline notes, “we increased the number of internal interviewers from 5 to 22 associates. In addition, we are actively investigating avenues that will allow us to recruit more diverse talent within our industries.”
Diverse Partnerships – Led by Wes Graham, Managing Partner and Rickie Robertson, Senior Principal: Wes states, “as part of our mission to apply DE&I learnings from our clients and the market for the betterment of our firm and community, the Diverse Partnerships team met with several client leaders to engage in joint initiatives to share ideas and best practices with each other, helping spread thoughts and ideas that can be applied across firms. While we have many more clients to engage on this topic, the conversations we have had, have been incredibly positive with all parties dropping traditional client/vendor boundaries and linking arms for the collective good.”
“We’ve worked directly with C-Suite DE&I members of Fortune 500 clients, gained exposure and knowledge from DE&I specialists, and will continue to share the ideas we gather across clients (in a safe manner, of course) and apply those ideas within Summus Group.
The reception we have had to date, the willingness to crowd/client source information, and desire to make the world better, is inspiring.”
What is next for the DE&I Council?
Inclusive Environment: From Megan “The Inclusive Environment team is very excited about its next event, a Women in Leadership Panel. This will be a panel-style forum with (Summus Group) moderators and women in leadership from varying levels at our client sites. The discussion topics will include: career progression, lessons learned throughout their career, and any advice and insight they can provide about our industry (specifically Financial Services and FinTech).”
Metrics and KPIs Team:From Meaghan “The KPI/Metrics team will be distributing an anonymous survey to establish a baseline for Summus Group’s current makeup. We will use the results as a starting point to close the gap between where we are at today and where would like to be. This team will set tangible targets across diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The team specifically focuses on gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, working parents, veteran status, and diverse leadership to ensure each group is represented in the ranks of our associates.”
Diverse Partnerships:From Wes “Since we’re still early in information gathering and idea dissemination phase, the Diverse Partnerships team will continue our pursuit to identify new partners and client leaders to collaborate with. We will continue to seek out progressive DE&I leaders in our market.
We’ll also be building an outbound communication on our findings, to be shared with small or medium sized businesses that might not have the resources or reach we have, to help give back to those needing a helping hand on this journey.”
Talent and Acquisition: From Jacqueline “We look to continue to diversify our recruiting tools and approach used to source candidates. We will find creative ways to attract a diverse workforce across all levels of the company.”
In closing, we would like to thank our DE&I leads and team members for all of your hard work so far. We all look forward to participating in your upcoming activities and initiatives.
By Admin|2021-03-26T16:40:11+00:00March 26th, 2021|Summus Group|Comments Off on Sit Down with Summus – Q1 2021 Edition