Global software and solutions provider Deltek has made diversity and inclusion part of its DNA. SVP of HR Ed Hutner and Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Deltek’s Leader of Diversity & Inclusion, discuss how their strategy is paying off and why it’s important to measure success.
How do you make sure your employees feel valued, empowered and that their ideas will be listened to and help them grow within the company? Those were the questions that Deltek asked when developing its D&I programme.
The answers were to be found within Deltek and have since resonated throughout the organisation. According to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and D&I Leader: “We’ve seen huge momentum in the interest of our employees. We’re not dragging them along on this journey. They’re eager to raise their hand and get involved.”
Deltek’s underlined its success in creating an equitable and inclusive culture when it was included in the Washington Post’s 2020 ‘Top Workplace’ list. Notably, the recognition was based on the results of an employee survey.
“It’s a significant accomplishment for us as we made the list based on what our employees are saying,” says SVP of HR Ed Hutner. “It’s pretty special and shows that what we’re doing makes a difference.”
Deltek is a leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, employing over 3,000 people worldwide. An annual employee engagement survey provides the compass that ensures the company is heading in the right direction on diversity and inclusion, and other issues.
But the journey is far from over. Deltek is taking its D&I programme to a whole new level by committing to nominating underrepresented minorities for every director-level vacancy, removing all exclusive terminology from its software code and creating a D&I council.
Hutner admits that it might not be easy to achieve the first of these but, he adds: “It forces the recruiting team to go out and find underrepresented minorities and females. We’ve brought in some software tools to help us find more candidates. It will take longer in some cases, but we are seeing the fruits of our labour starting to materialise.”
See something, say something
Eradicating exclusive language throughout the organisation is another major undertaking that will take time to complete. “This effort started last year in our engineering and product teams as they’re the ones doing the code,” Roberts explains. “We looked at words that had been used for years within coding, such as ‘blacklist’ or ‘master-slave,’ and thought about how to replace them.
“The good thing about this exercise is it impacts both our customers and our employees. We have a motto of ‘see something, say something’. If you see something that bothers you, raise your hand and let’s talk about it.
“We started to weave the words that matter into other efforts. Last year we added our pronouns to our signatures. We’ve looked at our documents, processes, policies and handbooks and said we shouldn’t use gender-specific pronouns.”
All the DEI initiatives are supported from the top, although everyone plays a role, as Roberts points out. “While we have the support of our executives, we would not be successful in our efforts without our employees rallying behind this,” she states.
Deltek’s business unit leaders have all had DEI training and unconscious bias assessments. Hutner says that discussions are underway with the business units to identify what more is required.
“We’re really trying to employ metrics that show we are moving the needle,” he explains. “Lisa has done a great job identifying our baseline and how we compare to other companies and other geographies relative to underrepresented minorities.” The baseline will help to identify the demographics of those being hired, promoted and trained.
“We’re also encouraging our recruiting team to make a concerted effort in terms of the candidates sought,” Hutner states. “Our strategy is not just to say we’re doing it, but to actually move it along.”
DEI is part of the DNA
It would be fair to say that D&I has become part of the company’s DNA, although Roberts points out that the emphasis has been more on inclusion than diversity. “That’s where we get the most traction,” she argues.
“When an employee comes into the organisation and invests lots of time with us, we want to make sure that they feel part of the community. We talk a lot about Team Deltek, and our culture is very team-oriented.”
This aspect has been further underlined by creating more than ten employee resource groups that provide other platforms for employees to speak and be heard. Also, the company makes a point of celebrating different cultures and events, such as International Women’s Day, Black History Month and Pride Month.
“We also look at things that would be meaningful in the moment,” says Roberts. “When we had a lot of social unrest here in the US last year, we brought in a speaker to talk about how you have uncomfortable conversations in the workplace.
“We look for those opportunities that speak to the heart of what is going on. We get requests from employees, such as, ‘I saw this great thing on TV, is that something we can do?’ I’m very pleased with the team at Deltek who raise their hand, give ideas and want to participate.”
Deltek is a beacon for how to make a workplace diverse and inclusive, but how can smaller companies with fewer resources and budgets follow this lead? The simple answer, according to Roberts is to, “get started. The same things can be done on a smaller scale, especially if the culture and leadership support it.”
Hutner agrees, adding: “There’s a lot of information that can be garnered for free online. So, no matter what size the company, they can start.”
For anyone doubting the benefits of having a dedicated D&I policy, he argues that companies are likely to be worse off without one. Diversity brings a variety of thought and promotes innovation.
“We want to be representative of what our customers look like, and not being diverse would cost us relative to doing business with our customers and our long-term ability to grow as a company,” Hutner says.
Roberts adds: “You have to have employees growing with you, and we know this would be a deal-breaker for us not to be able to attract the diverse talent that we want.”
Looking ahead, Deltek aims to ensure that all its D&I efforts will continue to reap the rewards for its employees and the company. Hutner describes it as two swim lanes. One is education, training and awareness to boost understanding. The second is the metrics.
Summing it up, he says: “It’s not just words, actions are making things happen. And we see a difference.”