We’ve often found that the best diversity and inclusion (D&I) leaders are those who truly have a passion for the work. While that can be said for any job, diversity and inclusion (D&I) are all about people, and those who have a passion for D&I often excel at corporate D&I efforts because they have had a lifelong interest in people—getting to know them, learning what makes them tick, and striving to be inclusive of everyone.
Applying that inclusive attitude in the workplace is obviously a great fit for any D&I professional, and that’s proven to be a winning combination for Trevor Jenkins, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager at ActiveCampaign, a customer experience automation (CXA) company.
From Pastor to Private Sector
Jenkins was a pastor for almost a decade before starting his DEI work with ActiveCampaign. During that time, he even started a business recruiting staff for faith-based organizations. The work stemmed from a lifelong desire to bring people together and help them find themselves.
“Since I was a child, I’ve always had a deep passion to make people feel welcome and help them determine their next step,” says Jenkins. “Essentially, pastoring is about meeting people where they are, and encouraging them as they navigate this journey called life. The same can be said about DEI in the workplace. DEI is about helping people understand who they are, the value they add, their limitations/bias, and their need for community within the organization. People are both gifted and limited, therefore we need each other.”
Jenkins found he really enjoyed facilitating discussions around the polarizing issues within the community, cultivating diversity, and building inclusive teams in churches; however, after 10 years as a pastor, he was looking for a new challenge.
That’s when Jenkins reached out to ActiveCampaign VP of People Denise Bindelglass and realized that the skills he had built as a pastor would ultimately translate to the corporate environment. “That first 15-minute call with Denise dramatically changed my career trajectory,” he says, “and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to make an impact at ActiveCampaign.”
Building on Previous Groundwork in a New Position
The role of DEI program manager wasn’t new just to Jenkins; it was new to ActiveCampaign, as well. Both Jenkins and ActiveCampaign had a commitment to D&I and a good amount of background available to find success together with the new position.
“I am the first person to hold my position at ActiveCampaign, but prior to my arrival, there was a D&I committee made up of many employees from different departments, as well as a serious commitment to ongoing D&I training and cultural learning,” says Jenkins.
An Iterative Approach to Continued Learning and Success
With a new employee in a new role, ActiveCampaign and Jenkins have been wise in taking an iterative approach to developing and continually improving the company’s DEI programs as it learns and grows.
Some of its current initiatives include:
- Long-term and short-term DEI company goals around representation, including representation on the leadership team;
- A great multiday onboarding experience, with a focus on DEI;
- DEI training with material from the Nova Collective;
- Antiracism training through unfiltered conversations;
- Employee resource groups (ERGs) with executive support and resources;
- A commitment from the CEO and executive leadership team to invest their time in listening to the ERGs;
- A corporate responsibility initiative, ActiveImpact, that focuses on building relationships and volunteering in the communities the company’s offices are located in;
- Partnership with an outside DEI firm that helps advise the company on retention, compensation, and promotion analysis;
- Regular DEI meetings, as well as a focus on DEI in ActiveCampaign’s blog, newsletter, and social media; and
- Departmental “all hands” meetings, with time carved out for updates around progress, and a regular DEI Q&A.
Additionally, recognizing that, by definition, DEI efforts aren’t simply top-down, ActiveCampaign’s ERGs are active in promoting those efforts. Currently, there are six ERGs, with more to come:
- Moms of ActiveCampaign
- Dads of ActiveCampaign
- Women of ActiveCampaign
In addition to listening and being open to input from employees at large, the ERGs provide a focus on some specific groups that might otherwise be marginalized.
The Role of Recruitment
DEI starts with recruitment. That means both cultivating a culture diverse applicants would be attracted to and actively seeking out talent who contribute to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. ActiveCampaign’s approach relies on both technology and process, and it audits its process regularly to ensure compliance and alignment with DEI goals and visions and to foster improvement.
Jenkins shared some of the tools and processes the company uses as part of this strategy. These include:
- SeekOut.io—A company that allows ActiveCampaign to aggregate online profiles from GitHub, LinkedIn, and other social sites and filter on diversity criteria.
- Black Tech Jobs—A platform used for targeted searches/job postings and to engage the organization around its staffing model; the platform is augmented along with other internal recruiting efforts.
- LinkedIn Recruiter.
And, says Jenkins, “We also engage SME agencies to help us source and hire diverse talent within T&P.”
Process and Technology
Process and technology are important for ensuring consistency and efficiency and monitoring results. The recruiting team dedicates time to diversity outbound sourcing to ensure a diverse pipeline of candidates, says Jenkins. “Our interview loops include a diverse panel of interviewers, including representation from teams that aren’t directly associated with the inbound interviewee,” he says. “The feedback and decision are a consensus of all the voices from the diverse panel.”
To assess the technical competencies of candidates, the company relies on coding challenges and take-home exercises, Jenkins says. This happens before candidates engage with hiring managers or participate in panel interviews. “It’s important to look at skills based on actual exercise, versus resume review or face-to-face interviews,” he says.
It’s also important to get third-party perspectives on how well processes are working. “We recently partnered with Holistic, a third-party organization that helps us audit our hiring pipeline process and ensure we are equitable through the interview stages,” says Jenkins.
DEI is all about people. Putting those who have a demonstrated commitment to and passion for seeing people of all backgrounds grow and succeed in positions of influence in DEI efforts is a key element of any successful DEI program.
Jenkins’ demonstrated commitment to inclusivity throughout his life has helped take ActiveCampaign’s existing DEI efforts to the next level, with a concerted focus on achieving real, and meaningful, results.