What diversity, inclusion, belonging and societal impact has meant at Baker Tilly
Recently, Whitney Harvey, Senior Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion of the Minnesota Chamber Foundation sat down with Shane Lloyd, Chief Diversity Officer for Baker Tilly to discuss the ways the firm has matured their efforts to sustain the efforts and further embed them into the business model. The article marks the latest in a series that highlights the incredible Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work that Minnesota Chamber members do each and every day.
Shane Lloyd, Chief Diversity Officer, Baker Tilly
Whitney Harvey: Shane, as the CDO for Baker Tilly, why did you embark on this effort and why was it important to have business leaders be the face of this next phase?
Shane Lloyd: We launched our first diversity, inclusion, belonging and societal impact (DIBS) strategy back in 2018 and it took us through to 2021 and we made notable progress in the number of people of color at our firm, the number of women at the senior manager and partner levels, and we also increased the number of opportunities our team members had to plug into DEI efforts. Additionally, we started receiving growing visibility for our efforts externally. It was amazing!
If we wanted to maintain the momentum of the incredible foundation we were given, I thought it was important to accomplish three major goals within our new strategy:
- Further embed our DIBS strategy into our business operations;
- Outline the competencies and capabilities needed from entry level to executive team members to advance sustainable inclusion; and,
- Deepen the integration of a DIBS framework into every element of our talent life cycle ranging from sourcing, recruiting, hiring, talent management, learning and development, succession planning, etc.
For priority #1, our firm needed multiple entry points to connect all of our team members to our strategy. To accomplish that we wanted local, regional, national and global efforts. The leaders who were best equipped to lead those efforts were our business leaders. Enterprise-wide strategies while necessary and powerful, benefit from localized efforts that can provide really important scaffolding to feed and sustain the work.
Whitney: With a firm with well over 5,000 employees, how does one go about steering and coordinating across so many stakeholders?
Shane: With great effort! Soon after we launched our strategy in February of 2023, I wrote a note to our Managing Partners and senior leaders requesting that they form smaller working groups to digest our newly released enterprise-wide strategy and identify one activity per pillar of our strategy at the local level. To support that project, we provided several materials: a time-bound activation playbook noting the activities and deliverables at each phase of this customization process, a goals tracking template to streamline how goals would be collected and reported, a sample list of DIBS activation goals to give the working groups some starting points, and we pulled together some publicly available DEI reports from peers to offer for inspiration and benchmarking.
Of note is that we also did this work during one of our firm’s busiest seasons as a reminder across levels that this important work is essential to our operations and can happen alongside even our peak periods.
Whitney: What was the response from leaders?
Shane: This effort stands out as one of my favorite #ThisismyBakerTilly moments because this effort was widely embraced by our senior leaders and team members.
Two of our leaders on the front lines of tailoring the DIBS strategy for Minnesota offered the following commentary:
“In Minnesota, after convening our diversity and inclusion activation committee,
I was impressed with the passion that our teams have brought to this effort.
One of our core values at Baker Tilly is “Belonging” and I’m very proud of the lengths
to which our partners and team members go to make
everyone feel included.” – Mike McKee, Managing Partner of Minnesota
“Mike makes my role super easy since he’s engaged from an enterprise,
local and individual perspective. He’s very active and supportive
with the initiatives that the DIBs activation committee
rolled out.” – Carol Bolles, Partner, Financial Services
What I’ll also say about Minnesota is they significantly improved our goals tracking template. It only requested information on the goal, timeline, goal owners, and the tactics to achieve the goal. They went above and beyond and included details on what they were already doing to advance our DEI efforts in a localized manner in Minnesota. That was a great model for the rest of our firm and a reminder that we’re evolving not just starting our DIBS work.
Whitney: What’s next now that these efforts are underway?
Shane: I should share a few more details before I offer what’s next. In addition to tailoring the strategies to the local levels, our business leaders were expected to communicate these localized goals to their teams. Leaders chose to make announcements via our intranet, through email blasts, in person or virtual town halls, and recorded videos.
What’s great is that rather than hearing from me, team members are hearing these messages directly from their business leaders and their colleagues. For our managing partners, they now have a deeper bench with regard to a community of practice of other business leaders to talk about DEI within their contexts. Our team members now have more confidence that the work of DEI will not be invisible labor rarely acknowledged in their performance review or by leaders within their reporting chains. And as a firm, we have more robust feeders into our enterprise strategy that leverage the talent and dynamism of many rather than just the Senior Leadership Team, Board of Partners or our DIBS Office team.
I think a quote from the Chair of our Board of Partners, and former Minnesota Managing Partner, Jeff DeYoung, captures this phase very well:
“Having had the privilege of being in several leadership positions at Baker Tilly,
I have seen the tremendous positive impact when we have a workplace
that welcomes diversity of people, diversity of thought and diversity of experiences.
Together, we can continue to improve our opportunities
and experiences for all of our people.” – Jeff DeYoung
We are truly #bettertogether and I couldn’t be prouder to share in this effort with so many, not just those who are passionate but also all of our leaders and team members across levels.