Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

This year, the team at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters embarked on a new area of focus and learning. We engaged with local leader Taryell Simmons of Sage Business and Education LLC to lead our company's DEIB introduction and training.

This training consisted of introductory meetings and a group listening session followed by multiple training sessions. The training sessions were followed up with small group feedback sessions so that our team could share their feedback and insights from the experience regarding how they’d like to see the DEIB principles embodied in the workplace.

We were reminded many times during the training sessions that DEIB is a process and the work of implementing DEIB principles is never complete, rather, it evolves over time. This introduction to DEIB and the initial training sessions were the beginning of our work to include those principles in our daily roles and into the culture of Bird Rock Coffee as a whole.

DEIB: A Brief Explanation

DEIB stands for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. These four interconnected principles play crucial roles in shaping a diverse and harmonious workplace.

  1. Diversity encompasses the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that we bring to the workplace. It includes differences in race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, abilities, and more. Embracing diversity in the workplace enriches creativity, innovation, and problem-solving by drawing from a wide range of viewpoints.
  2. Equity focuses on fairness and ensuring that all employees have access to the same opportunities and resources, regardless of their background or characteristics. It addresses systemic biases and strives to eliminate discrimination to create a level playing field.
  3. Inclusion involves creating an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and included. It's about fostering a sense of belonging and ensuring that diverse employees can fully contribute their talents and perspectives without fear of exclusion or discrimination.
  4. Belonging goes beyond inclusion and aims to create a sense of community and acceptance. It's about employees feeling that they are an integral part of the organization and can bring their authentic selves to work. When we feel like we belong, we are more engaged, motivated, and productive.

In the workplace, DEIB plays a pivotal role in promoting a more just and ethical environment and a more successful and innovative one. Incorporating DEIB principles can strengthen workplace culture and can benefit both individuals and organizations, fostering growth, innovation, and a more inclusive, equitable, and harmonious workplace.

Our Sessions

The majority of our time was spent as a group over the course of two days of training, discussions, breakout sessions, and lectures. Together we explored concepts of culture; visible aspects of culture like rituals, festivals, and language as well as non-visible aspects like values, emotional expression, and individuality vs collectivity. 

We spent a good deal of time exploring what it means to be listened to. Everyone in attendance answered the question “How do you like to be listened to?” and shared their answer with a partner. The point of this exercise was to engage in listening as a form of community building. Listening can be a skeleton key for opening ourselves to engage with others; our fellow co-workers, our customers, and those outside of the workplace.

We were encouraged to think of people as experts of their own experience and to consider that our point of view or beliefs about somebody else could be wrong. This, in turn, led to discussions around implicit bias. Implicit bias is unconscious prejudice and stereotypes that affect our judgments and actions. It happens automatically and can influence our behavior, even if we don't realize it, impacting things like interviewing, coaching, and giving feedback. Implicit bias can be about race, gender, or other factors. Recognizing and addressing it is important for promoting fairness and inclusivity.

Eventually, we moved on from interpersonal concepts to bigger challenges like supremacy culture and its many facets. We discussed perfectionism and its pitfalls like focusing on deficiencies and corrective action rather than leading with a culture of appreciation; all mistakes are opportunities to learn. Urgency was another symptom. Of course, not all bad, but when urgency prevents collaboration and realistic work plans it can lead to valuing hustle over work quality.

We explored paternalism and defensiveness where criticism of those in power is viewed as inappropriate and where decision-making is clear to those in power and unclear to those not in power. The antidote to this was discussed in the form of fair process decision-making and being willing to give people credit for handling more than you think.

Challenging some of these workplace norms can help to turn away from binary thinking towards innovative thinking. Engaging more voices in the workplace leads to more diverse points of view and opens the door to new ideas that can positively impact both business and culture.

What’s Next?

The summary above certainly does not encompass or cover everything that was discussed and learned. Nor does it capture the richness of the experience. The opportunity to engage with fellow employees in DEIB discussions while exploring their unique perspectives isn’t an experience that most of us have. After hearing from our team following the DEIB sessions, the top two areas of feedback were Listening and Learning.

In the short term, our cafes have begun implementing plans to increase the number of 1-on-1 opportunities the staff has with their manager to create the space and opportunity for dedicated listening. Our Store Managers are also now in charge of booking quarterly check-in meetings with the Head of Operations to improve on fair process decision-making.

Before the end of 2023, Bird Rock Coffee will have a fully developed Barista Learning Pathway for cafe staff. The timeline, knowledge expectations, and learning resources will be available to all staff and will be a requirement for staff promotions. We will also be reaching out to get a 3rd-party certification that we offer a Living Wage to our staff so that our team knows that their stability and well-being are a priority for Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.

These initiatives will bring us into 2024 and will help us open up further discussion into what else we can do to enhance our culture, to create space for improving our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in our company, and to be leaders in our industry for promoting DEIB as a way to engage with our team and our customers. 

Posted by Bird Rock Coffee Roasters on Sep 13th 2023