Well, 2018 certainly went by quickly! As I get older, the years are certainly going by faster. 2018 is in the books and we’re already at a full sprint in the new year. Side note – at what point is the year no longer “new?” I’ve always wondered…

At this time last year, InCheck had about 45 employees. Fast forward to today, we now have 91! We’ve literally doubled in size to keep up with the service demands of a growing company – it’s been quite the ride!

Along the way we were named to the MMAC Future 50, the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Firms, and most recently, became one of Milwaukee’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. While honored to receive all of these awards, being recognized as one of Milwaukee’s Best and Brightest really struck me because this award is based on direct feedback from our own employees. InCheck team members were surveyed in September 2018 in areas such as employee enrichment, engagement, retention, achievement, recognition, communication, shared vision, and work life balance. To receive this award, we scored among the top companies in the Milwaukee area, which is awesome!

But it was one area in particular that really made me take a step back and appreciate how far we’ve come. In the category of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), qualified in the survey as “the extent to which an organization is open and inclusive to people of differing human qualities, promotes a tolerant work environment, and considers multiculturalism to be a competitive advantage,” on a one-to-ten scale, we scored 8.39.

When I look at the makeup of InCheck today, if we aren’t represented by every background, we must be pretty darn close. Beyond the diversity is the overall vibe and energy I’m feeling from our team each day… the “I” in “D&I”, so to speak. I’ll go on record to say that diversity has helped to define our culture; we absolutely view it as a competitive advantage, especially when incorporated into a talent acquisition strategy committed to hiring to core values.

Over the last year, I’ve accepted the challenge of doing more than just checking the DEI box. I’m proud to say that we started a D&I Committee, and met regularly throughout the majority of the year. I said that our D&I initiative would be continuous and identifiable, and reflected in our hiring practices, our internal and external company communication, through company-sponsored events, community involvement, and by creating opportunities for awareness and education.

Where are we today? Have we succeeded? Well, I’m proud to say we’ve established a foundation that incorporates almost everything listed above and set a course for the future. And the new experiences and learning opportunities have been invaluable. For example, figuring out how to get others involved when the founding committee employees all turned over? The element of starting from scratch has been felt through this journey, but we continued on. Also, how do you get buy-in from employees and generate interest when you have 45+ new employees focused on their training? How do you identify and select topics designed to create awareness and education, and initiate appropriate programming around those topics? How do you promote the goal of creating a deeper understanding and respect for each other while celebrating our differences, when success requires moving people out of their comfort zone, and to what degree do you require it rather than simply promote it and/or talk about it? These are all issues we’ve encountered over the last year that will shape our initiative moving forward.

I believe consistency is the key. The continuous and identifiable part cannot be understated. So, while we’ve experienced some turbulence, the messaging and presence of the initiative remains, and our talent acquisition strategy helps to not only reinforce it, but also provides a foundation for future success.

As I stated last year, “race and other diversity and inclusion subjects are not easy to discuss, but we have to remember that as a company, we are a group of diverse individuals working together to accomplish a common goal.” While it is satisfying to look around and observe how our diversity has become our strength, I also realize there is great work to be done; a tremendous opportunity lies ahead. Because that’s where we will make the real difference. As a business owner, I believe in a social responsibility to make this company a great place for great people to work, feel respected, believe in something bigger than themselves, and flourish in their role. I want my team to feel inspired and fulfilled so that our positive energy follows them out into the world when they walk out the door each day. As leaders, that’s how we can make a difference. A D&I program is one very important way of doing that.

So thank you, once again, Black History Month. Thank you for inspiring me to do more. Thank you for being the driving force behind the inception of our D&I initiative. And, thank you for the opportunities to learn and grow both personally and professionally over the last year. It’s been a rewarding journey so far, but knowing that our program is only in its infancy, we know the best is yet to come.

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