Inclusion & Diversity at DHG and Beyond
In honor of Black History Month, DHG’s African American Network (AAN) Common Interest Group recently asked team members across the firm’s footprint to write messages about what Inclusion and Diversity means to them. Continue reading as members of the AAN share their own thoughts on the topic and why they were passionate about forming the AAN in both Atlanta and Charlotte.
How did you first get the idea for the African American Network and how have you grown it over time?
Horace Jenkins (Manager): When I first started working at DHG, I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of something big and to create a common connection with people at the firm who looked like me. When we brought the idea to leadership, they immediately jumped on board and everyone from the top down was very supportive. We launched our group in the Atlanta office in December 2016. At one of our first meetings, we conducted a whiteboard session with office participants to map out the needs and what we envisioned the group could provide to the entire firm. We worked very closely with Nicole Andrews (former Manager of Inclusion and Diversity) to create a mission and vision for the group to help guide our overarching strategy. We knew every step would help build an environment that is inclusive and welcoming of everyone.
Veronica Bell (Senior Consultant): First, it was about having open communication with our team members about their desires for an inclusive environment at DHG. The initial support and participation was overwhelming, and it helped to inspire others to spread the word about the AAN in Charlotte. The Atlanta office had already built the framework and foundation for the AAN. The expansion was really about what employees in the Charlotte market wanted to see in terms of increasing diversity in recruitment, retention, and career development.
While starting a Common Interest Group (CIG) takes a lot of personal time and hard work, I don’t mind because I believe in being a leader and I believe in the benefits of CIG’s for our people. We are all at different places in the diversity journey, and each person has different needs at our firm. As we start to unpack all of the work involved in creating an inclusive culture where everyone can perform their best work, we are creating something special and exciting!
How did you come up with the idea for the poster celebrating inclusion and diversity?
Horace Jenkins: The goal of the poster is to start a conversation around inclusion and diversity. For people who may not share in a particular identity, interest, or goal, the AAN’s poster creates another avenue for people to spark up a conversation and develop an understanding of what various groups experience. Our overall goal is to create more inclusive conversations so more DHG team members feel connected and engaged. We believe every step can help build an environment that is more inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
What is your biggest piece of advice for getting people excited about joining a Common Interest Group at DHG?
Andrea Rice (Senior Consultant): Membership is very important, and it’s important to make sure you include everyone from the top-down to play a role, regardless of their background. The AAN was very deliberate about making sure we outlined everyone’s role, the mission, the leadership team, and general meeting dates. Make sure you are building a culture where you aren’t just tapping into an underrepresented population for certain initiatives—but that you are also engaging with them in meaningful ways. Most importantly, make sure you’re having fun!