Instead of killing two birds with one stone, David Williams would rather feed two birds with one scone. As TPx’s Senior Director, Organizational Development & Learning, Williams is focused on changing the conversation. After all, he knows the best way to help the team maximize productivity is to make everyone feel welcome and included.
“If we want to have strong companies with a good product set that’s doing a great job with our customers — and it’s high performing — we need to make sure foundationally that employees feel valued, included and respected,” Williams said.
Williams leads quarterly diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) training sessions for TPx team members. The sessions are open to all employees and have quickly grown in popularity among the TPx team with approximately 70% of employees in attendance.
“Training is one of the primary communication mechanisms that we use to share messaging and, more importantly, provide our team members with an environment to have important conversations,” Williams said. “It’s not about trying to find fault with anyone or make anyone feel as if they’re doing something wrong. Rather, it’s helping people better themselves and how they interact with their fellow humans.”
Creating Meaningful Dialogue and Interactions
The centerpiece of the training series is in the breakout sessions, where all employees are in the same virtual room and can talk through the important topics covered in DEI training. That’s when the real work begins. They’re off mute, on camera and having a meaningful conversation about important issues.
Training is one of the greatest mechanisms that allows a two-way street for conversation. Everyone, regardless of their title, including executive leadership team members, participates equally. The sessions include a series on unconscious biases that naturally occur in everyone. Williams enjoys the opportunity to focus on what he says is “brain science that is focused on productivity in the workplace.”
“Our topics naturally occur in the brain and impact everyone,” Williams said. Everyone holds their own unconscious biases and it’s how you address that notion that really makes an impact. “By calling attention to it, we can say, this is something that we want to make you aware of so that you can decide how you’d like to proceed,” Williams adds.
Changing the Conversation
TPx’s latest training session in the unconscious bias series is ‘The Curse of Knowledge.’ At some point in our lives, we’ve all had to deal with the curse of knowing information you assume others have and being on the other end of that scenario, which could result in the adage of fake it until you make it. These sessions don’t just help employees identify biases but lay the groundwork to change the conversation.
“What I keep coming back to with the curse of knowledge, in particular, is that it speaks to our uniqueness as individuals more than anything, and you could be on the side that is afraid to speak up or hesitant to ask the question because you don’t want to look like you don’t know,” Williams said. “What I love about this training is that it’s encouraging people to change their way of thinking. It’s not wrong to speak up or admit you don’t have an answer to a question or don’t know something; it’s smart to speak up.”
Through the insights shared during these training sessions, employees are beginning to rethink they approach things – making sure that everyone has a seat at the table and doing the work to change the conversation.
“Instead of killing two birds with one stone, let’s feed two birds with one scone,” Williams added. “I use that as an example of what we’re saying. We’re learning how to look at our work, the same work that we’ve done before, through a completely different lens, and that new perspective is affording our employees a vibrant culture that’s inclusive and welcoming.”
How Has it Been Received?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants calling it “very engaging” and the “best program ever.” One participant said, “DEI training has been helpful with day-to-day communications between peers, prospects and customers, reminding us to hear others out before imposing prior beliefs or values.”
It’s also helped improve morale. “I believe that any organization making a conscientious effort to address DEI is steps ahead of those that fail to recognize the importance of embracing this issue,” another participant said. “I believe it positively impacts morale and employee loyalty. It’s very encouraging!”
But more than anything, the participation of the company’s executive leadership has shown just how important the initiative is to TPx’s success. “I would just like to say how wonderful it is to see the leadership team making this a priority,” one participant said. “In our busy lives, I think we can forget these important pieces to everyday life, and these workshops are a lovely refresher.”
Williams has another metric. “Success is people coming on camera, smiling, coming off mute and asking questions and engaging in difficult conversations, without taking it personally,” Williams said. “People who answer the questions in an encouraging, empathetic and invigorating way… It’s that whole ‘changing the conversation’ that is so rewarding.”