After the murder of George Floyd, Blueprint Systems CEO Dan Shimmerman realized he had a lot to learn. While he considers himself an inclusive leader, he noticed a few learning opportunities and took them, not only embarking on a personal learning journey but also wanting to push the conversation forward at Blueprint.
Working with Bloom on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Experience, Dan got exactly what he needed. The program was impactful for attendees, demonstrably successful for the company, and it was delivered in a way that truly welcomed people into the conversation and gave them a foundation to grow from.
The challenge: education without alienation
DEI is a sensitive subject at the best of times, and Dan knew that when he started looking for external DEI support.
“It was important that whoever we worked with could bring everyone in and give them a chance to learn,” said Dan. It’s easy to accidentally push people away with these conversations.”
After doing some research on DEI providers, Dan came across Bloom’s signature DEI Experience. He spoke with Bloom founder Avery Francis and felt the Bloom approach of having earnest conversations, starting with basic level-setting, and building a solid foundation before going into advanced information was exactly what the company needed.
Hosting a Bloom DEI Experience
In the lead up to the August 2020 launch of the DEI Experience, Dan began to mention the initiative informally during his regular communications with employees. Since DEI is a sensitive topic, Dan wanted to make sure no one felt like the workshop was sprung upon them. While this kind of transparency is Dan’s overall leadership style, he also looked to Bloom for recommendations on how to message the Experience.
“With the heightened sensitivity and emotion that can come from DEI conversations, it made communication a bit trickier,” said Dan. “I wanted to learn from Bloom’s expertise and message the initiative as transparently and candidly as possible.”
Dan noted that employees had a wide range of reactions to him bringing up the Initiative, from elation to skepticism and concern. However, once Bloom facilitated the initial sessions, Dan said most of the skepticism went away as employees felt they got to engage on topics that mattered to them.
Where the skepticism at the beginning was that a DEI initiative was simply checking a box, employees felt the Bloom DEI Experience was thoughtful and productive. All remaining skepticism, according to Dan, shifted away from concern about presentation quality and onto holding Blueprint accountable to following through with the plans and promises that came out of the Experience.
“People began to ask about how to keep the systems going so the progress we made with the DEI Experience would not just be a one-time thing,” said Dan.
One other element of the DEI Experience that Dan liked as a leader was the quantitative element. Bloom conducted multiple surveys to get data about inclusion at Blueprint, giving Dan concrete information to use when talking about future initiatives and measuring business progress.
“Quantitative surveys gave me great data about a couple of areas we needed to improve on,” said Dan. “At the same time, the results were encouraging and gave us a solid foundation to continue working from.”
Growing from Bloom’s foundation
Now that the DEI experience is complete, Dan and his team are focused on what’s next. Their main priority is taking the foundation provided by the Experience and continuing the lessons, conversations, and initiatives discussed. Like many corporate initiatives, inclusion is an ongoing process.
In response, Dan is not just continuing based on what came up in the DEI Experience but also working with his head of HR to review all policies and processes for inclusion. That said, he credits the Bloom DEI Experience as setting the right foundation so the whole company can move in the same direction with everyone feeling like they have a stake in the outcome.
“Having the opportunity to work with Avery and the Bloom team is wildly rewarding,” said Dan. “The DEI Experience ignited hope and knowledge in people who may otherwise not have been thinking about it. The Experience provided a great educational foundation that was instrumental in starting dialogues at the company. These difficult topics require the right team to do it in a non-defensive way, and Bloom was exemplary.”