Why Loblaw Digital Chose Bloom as a Strategic Workplace Design Partner

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While all of Loblaw Companies is dedicated to inclusion, the Loblaw Digital team wanted to take an approach that was unique to their team, their needs, and how they engage in the Toronto tech community. To accomplish that transformation, the leadership team chose to partner with Bloom on a series of Bloom Experience inclusion workshops. Lauren Steinberg, the SVP of Loblaw Digital, explained why she trusted Bloom to be a strategic workplace design partner — and how they are already gearing up for long-term projects.

Wanting space to educate

In mid-2020, the world was rocked by numerous watershed moments in the push for creating inclusive workplaces. Within Loblaw Digital, employees demanded that leaders think critically about how they structured the workplace and how the organization could engage on these subjects. Lauren knew she wanted to honour her employees’ asks, but she also knew that couldn’t happen with an internal-only committee.

“The culture at Loblaw Digital is to always recognize we’re not necessarily the experts,” said Lauren. “We hire people that we believe are inclusive leaders, but we’re not experts when it comes to educating other people on biases and creating inclusive spaces.”

Employees at Loblaw Digital had already created multiple virtual communities to discuss world events and how it applied to them and their work. So while the Loblaw Digital team knew they wanted to hire an external expert who could guide conversations further, Lauren was keenly aware that a lot of energy was already being spent on this subject internally, and an outside party would need to work within that structure.

Choosing Bloom

Bloom was already helping Loblaw Digital with recruiting — placing key senior team members — when the call for inclusive workplace design came from employees. Lauren thought back to the times she’s spoken with Avery Francis, the founder of Bloom, on how to create an inclusive hiring process, and recalled how safe the conversations felt.

“For someone so knowledgeable — and intimidating in that knowledge — Avery always showed kindness and patience,” said Lauren. “I felt safe asking questions and having open conversations with her, and I wanted my team to feel that as well.”

Given how complex building an inclusive workplace really is (between processes, metrics, and the people-side of the equation), Lauren felt confident that Bloom’s no-nonsense, but also patient and kind approach was the right fit.

“When the leadership team recognized the pressure our teams were under to navigate a difficult time in the world, it became the perfect opportunity to partner with Bloom in a more meaningful way,” said Lauren.

A big bang approach for lasting impact

Bloom designed a signature Bloom Experience for Loblaw Digital, offering seven workshops on topics like empathy, biases, calling people in, building their team through the lens of inclusion, inclusive hiring practices and repairing relationships and culture. The Loblaw Digital team wanted a “big bang” approach to ensure everyone felt the importance and gravity, so Bloom facilitated all the workshops in a six-week period in late 2020.

“I was relatively new to my role as SVP at the time, and I attended a bunch of the workshops,” said Lauren. “It was easily the most valuable time I spent in my first couple months as a senior executive.”

Lauren said it wasn’t just the high quality of the workshops that she loved, but the fact that they had a lasting impact. Months later, Lauren said Bloom’s teachings are referenced “over and over” in conversations at all levels.

Gearing up for Bloom 2.0

Lauren said Loblaw Digital regularly introduces new concepts to the company, but it can be difficult getting them to stick. Bloom’s work stuck.

“Bloom’s workshops changed behaviours and shifted how the company interacts in a lasting way. The information is regularly used to make our organization better.”

With a great foundation, both leadership and employees are looking for what’s next, and everyone’s aware that a single series of workshops — no matter how impactful — cannot solve deeply rooted issues. Lauren is in conversation with other leaders at Loblaw Digital to identify what actions to take next, specifically creating opportunities to engage, learn, and continue to push forward as the company builds its next phase.

Given the teams at Loblaw Digital build software, they’ve internally code-named this project “Bloom 2.0.” This presents a new version of growth that, hopefully with only minor releases and patches, leads them to 3.0 — a more equitable, inclusive and diverse Loblaw Digital.

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