As an organization of experienced consultants, the work we do at Affirma is very people-centric. Every day we’re working externally with our clients to create strong working relationships, and internally in our project teams to form positive collaborative relationships and ultimately deliver more for our clients. When you boil it down, Affirma is a business built around people working with people.
That’s why a diverse workforce made up of different perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds makes our organization better. Whenever we work with our clients, we want to make sure we’re providing better solutions because they are informed by a wide range of perspectives and ideas.
Not only that, but a more diverse workforce is critical to the growth of our internal team. Bringing diverse backgrounds to the table allows our employees to reimagine the status quo and challenge our thinking overall as an organization.
Establishing Affirma’s DEI Team
While Affirma has always made conscientious efforts towards diversity, 2020 was a year of substantial growth for our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Thanks to a small group of employees’ driven and passionate efforts, Affirma has established a dedicated DEI team that meets on a bi-weekly basis and meets with me monthly. This team stays focused on turning thoughtful discussions on diversity into concrete actions for our organization and always applying a self-reflective lens to the initiatives we take as an organization.
A DEI team member integral to the team’s launch shared how she has specifically seen the team form and take shape as a thoughtful and inquisitive group at Affirma.
“As a woman who comes from a diverse background, I have been very impressed with how our DEI team is focused on finding solutions and making a real difference at Affirma. The team works very hard to ensure that each perspective is given equal respect. We are willing to challenge our own opinions and set beliefs and engage in a healthy dialogue.” – DEI team member
In just its first few months, this team of around 15 individuals led a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lunch & Learn open to our entire company. The DEI team and I were very pleased to see the high degree of active participation from our team members and positive post-event feedback from attendees. This was a great initial start to the team’s efforts and instilled greater confidence for future DEI-focused events.
The DEI team also took the initiative to update our biannual employee satisfaction survey to include an optional question around inclusion. We were pleased with the amount of responses and feedback we received from this question and the responses helped provide a clearer understanding of what is working and what can be improved for our inclusion efforts as an organization.
Working with Diversity Window
Another significant update to our DEI efforts initiated in 2020 included becoming a client of Diversity Window, which works with companies to re-envision and re-invigorate their diversity and inclusion efforts. Launched by two former Affirma executive team members, Michael Brown and Don Hyun, Diversity Window is currently supporting our organization’s efforts to analyze and baseline our employee diversity data, and we look forward to taking advantage of their other DEI services in the future. You can learn more about Diversity Window and Affirma’s work with their organization in this GeekWire article.
The overall formation and growth of the DEI team have been an inspiring occurrence for me, as I’ve watched this employee team grow with each meeting and establish itself as an integral part of our organization. The DEI team has some exciting initiatives on the horizon for 2021, including a Coffee Break series, which will serve as an opportunity for employees to discuss and unpack a myriad of topics around diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and less formally. The series has already kicked off with a discussion on supporting our communities during COVID.
Christine Allison, a Program Manager at Affirma and one of the leaders in our organization’s 2020 DEI efforts, shared a significant emphasis on how Affirma’s greater global expansion will also reshape how we as a company think about our DEI efforts in the future.
“I’m really looking forward to engaging more with the Ireland, India, Romania, and Arkansas offices in 2021, to make sure the DEI team is accounting for the needs and perspectives of folks across the company and across the world.” – Christine Allison
These efforts and discussions are always evolving and ongoing, but I’m immensely proud of the work our employees have driven to start the conversation and ensure that there is a productive, thoughtful, and ongoing discussion around our company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.