Dion Bullock is only in the early stages of his new role as Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Strategy Lead for Bravely, but he’s already made an impact. While new to the role (which is similar to “Chief Diversity Officer (CDO)”), Bullock isn’t new to the organization. He’s served as a coach, or “Pro,” for the past 2 years, which has offered him an opportunity to experience firsthand the work the company does and how it makes a positive impact on employees and client organizations.
Bullock has a firm grasp on his role and the potential impact it can have not only for Bravely but also for Bravely’s clients and employees. Bravely works with companies to provide their employees equitable access to on-demand, confidential coaching—something that is certainly in demand today as companies seek ways of helping employees navigate issues related to both the pandemic and racial unrest around the country.
Building Conversations and Cohesiveness Around the Black Lives Matter Movement
Bravely has been proactive in reaching out to clients to sponsor and hold webinars, panel discussions, and smaller dialogue spaces around how they can create more inclusive practices in their organizations. “For example,” Bullock says, “through the month of June we hosted different webinars specifically focused on the Black employee experience and how to support your Black employees given a lot of the globe conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement and also just larger and more visible conversations around systemic racism and anti-Blackness.”
These sessions offer an opportunity for organizations to bring employees together in small groups to talk about what the Black experience is like, “recognizing that their experience is not monolithic and that everyone has different entry points into the world of work—but, importantly, to build space and build trust to understand these perspectives,” Bullock explains.
Bravely has been working with clients to build out these dialogue spaces for their specific needs, says Bullock. “We partner with them to create dialogue spaces which we’ve defined as somewhere between 10–15 people coming together virtually to talk about what their experiences around race have been within the workplace. People have a chance to reflect on that question and to think about the current state and talk about [the] future state—if your organization was to continue to focus on, promote, and advance racial equity, inclusion and belonging what would your organization look like and what strengths and opportunities do you have within your organization to help you get there?”
Understanding Your ‘Why’
While Bullock is new to the CDO role at Bravely, he’s served in similar positions at other organizations. And, he says, “As you can imagine, the CDO role will be vastly different depending on where it lives.” In some cases, the role is focused on the marketing and branding aspects of an organization. In other cases, the focus is on the legal aspects. In still others, the focus may be related to HR functions and thinking about employee resource groups, mentor opportunities, and hiring.
“There are a lot of different opportunities or different entry points for a CDO,” Bullock says. His advice to other CDOs: “Understand what is expected in terms of your role as a CDO and then really understand what your sphere of influence is.” He refers to this as “understanding your why.”
It’s important, says Bullock, for those involved in diversity and inclusion work to understand the impact they hope to have. One of the big challenges, he says, is understanding the scope, scale, and sphere of influence—the root causes of why the work needs to be done and what the impact will be in the organization.
It’s not, he says, just about the impact solely in financial goals. “What would being a more inclusive, more diverse, more equitable company empower you to do”—not just for employees or the company but also regarding the impact you could potentially have from a larger societal standpoint?
It’s important, says Bullock, for CDOs to find goal alignment between their own values and goals and the values and goals of the organizations they choose to serve.
“A key place to ask these kinds of questions would be in the interview process,” he says. “What are the values of the organization? What is the budget around this work, which is a huge part of thinking about those values.” There’s a saying that really sums this up well, he says: “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” If you’re not able to find that alignment, he says, “it’s going to make your job tough.”
For him, the alignment was clear. “I understand the product and I already knew what I was coming into—it was an easy decision to come into the organization knowing that I had the right conditions for success recognizing that equity, inclusion and belonging are an integral part of Bravely.”
The work is symbiotic, he says. “We have our internal work with our own employee experience and we have our customer experience and our product—how can we support our clients to be and create those spaces of equity and inclusion within their work cultures?”
And, he says, “we’re also thinking about social impact which a lot of organizations are starting to see and recognize the importance of investing in.” Even though Bravely is a small organization, it’s thinking about opportunities to emulate or partner with others to make an impact.
An area of particular interest, says Bullock, is representation of girls and women of color in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) roles. “How are we investing in STEM programs in the community to be able to support them so that when those girls or women working or growing in these spaces, they are able to have access and help to diversify the industry?”
The opportunity for impact, Bullock says, can be thought of in terms of concentric circles—from the work the company is doing internally to the company’s work with clients to the broader impact the work can have in the community.
It all starts with understanding the why.