Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Cornerstone Research is a firmwide effort. In this interview, Chief Human Resources Officer Elena Garcia talks about the firm’s DEI Council.
What is the mission of the DEI Council?
The DEI Council comprises senior staff across the firm who develop goals and strategies to drive progress forward for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our purpose is to create a support structure for all of our people to be successful. Within each office, DEI representatives build engagement and coordinate locally-based initiatives. This includes facilitating learning, awareness, and celebrations. Simply put, our goal is to grow a culture of belonging where all employees feel valued.
Simply put, our goal is to grow a culture of belonging where all employees feel valued.
What are some of the DEI Council’s initiatives?
We have numerous projects underway and are excited to keep pushing forward on other goals. A few of these are:
- Creating awareness among staff. In addition to amassing a large library of articles, videos, and other learning resources for our employees, we also have established a series of virtual learning sessions for all of our offices on DEI-related topics. These have included firmwide awareness trainings on microaggressions and unconscious bias, as well as presentations on the use of preferred pronouns, pronunciation of international names, and discussions in recognition of U.S. and U.K. Black History Months.
- Surveying our people. We have conducted “Inclusion Surveys” to help us understand how our people experience and perceive various dimensions of DEI at the firm. These anonymous, collective responses help guide and impact programming and areas of focus for the firm.
- Forming Affinity Groups. The firm has several employee resource groups (ERGs) with the goal of building community and connection. These ERGs include Black/African American, East Asian, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, LGBTQ+, and South/Southeast Asian colleagues, as well as women and working parents. All employees are welcome to join, whether they identify as members of the group or wish to serve as allies.
What do you mean when you say “our differences unite us and make us stronger”?
We have found, like most other companies, that greater diversity on our teams leads to higher-quality work. In order to attract and retain a diverse mix of talent, it is vital that we communicate our values and culture. While basic employment information such as competitive salary and benefits is still very important, people want to join and be part of a company that is working towards DEI solutions.
For example, we are dedicated to partnering with organizations that create educational and training opportunities. This year, we have sponsored programs with Year Up, Teach for All, Minds Matter, and the New Teachers Project, all of which have missions to better the future of underserved communities. We have early recruitment programs for analyst candidates, called the First-Year Foundations and Sophomore Summit, which focus on recruitment of diverse candidates. In addition, our Supplier Diversity Program helps ensure that we support minority- and women-owned organizations.
We work every day to build a culture where people truly feel supported.
Belonging means feeling understood and appreciated—and willing to be our authentic selves in the workplace. Sharing common experiences and learning from people with different identities and backgrounds helps increase trust and respect. We work every day to build a culture where people truly feel supported. And when this happens you see stronger work relationships, more collaboration, higher productivity, and increased retention rates.