Leading at the Intersection of Equity and Empowerment
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Leading at the Intersection of Equity and Empowerment

Advice on building a sustainable work culture for a better tomorrow.

TCB Insights logoCreating a culturally diverse workforce is more than a tick box; it’s a sound business strategy with a ripple effect on our greater communities. Diverse teams drive more innovation, boost financial returns, and yield more synergistic outcomes. Ahead, executives in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space share their best practices and takeaways for establishing a more inclusive workplace.



Jacqueline Thomas-Hall
Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer, Allina Health

Q: Why is “belonging” essential to DEI efforts?

A: Allina Health’s caring mission is to provide exceptional care that is centered on our patients’ unique perspectives—shaped by who they are, their background, and their lived experiences. To uphold the pillars of DEI, we have to make sure the people we serve feel like they belong. So, we added Belonging to our efforts.Jacqueline Thomas Hall

Through Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B), we have been intentional in our work to combat the effects of systemic racism. In the three years since George Floyd’s murder, we have learned that our DEI&B strategy must be fully integrated into our organizational strategic plans. Leveraging our key internal stakeholders to embed our DEI&B principles and practices into our operational plans enables us to move beyond words and co-create systems of accountability.

Led by CEO Lisa Shannon, our DEI&B council involves an operations committee with representatives from several teams, and employee resource groups that empower employees to advocate for our DEI&B goals.

These accomplishments are just the beginning. Combating the effects of systemic injustices takes time. The end goal is to ensure that all individuals have access to good health care.

Tracey Walker
Principal; Chief Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer, RSM US LLP

Q: What are the tried-and-true elements of a successful DEI formula?
A: After years of study, survey, and best-practice analysis, results show differences make the difference. The RSM formula for this is simple: Differences + Dexterity x Delivery = Differentiation.

Value Difference: When we consider our unique attributes—this includes the full range of human/organizational differences and similarities—there are more than 20 factors of diversity to be valued and celebrated.

Tracey Walker

Practice Dexterity: The real challenge lies in shedding our personal biases, and creating an inclusive environment in which everyone believes. They are heard and supported. When employees are invited to learn, contribute, and innovate, levels of productivity, collaboration, and loyalty go up.

Innovate Delivery: Leadership is responsible for creating a diverse and inclusive culture, one in which all employees clearly understand what success looks like, and are encouraged to participate.

Navigating today’s challenges and anticipating tomorrow’s opportunities requires an expanded way of thinking. Smart leaders recognize that the differences within an organization’s talent base may be its greatest asset.

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Pam BjerkePam Bjerke
Chief Human Resources Officer, Stearns Bank

Q: What can organizations do to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment? 

A: Fostering an environment where opportunity is available to everyone, and team members are encouraged to bring their uniqueness to the table.

At Stearns Bank, we’ve long embraced the fact that DEI drives innovation, improves functionality, inspires connection, and delivers results. Among the actions we’ve taken to enrich our culture through DEI, we have:   

  • Conducted an anonymous, voluntary survey focused on DEI. With more than 80% of employees participating, we learned about where they are presently, recognized gaps and areas of improvement, and confirmed our team’s willingness to grow collectively and as individuals   
  • Collaborated with thought leaders to strengthen economic opportunity
  • Invested in a multiyear relationship with a DEI consultant
  • Expanded learning and development related to unconscious bias, microaggressions, and allyship
  • Formed DEI and advisory leadership committees
  • Established measurable accountability across senior leadership
  • Partnered with DEI organizations
  • Invested in a community development coordinator to expand DEI efforts in the communities we serve.