Recently I had the opportunity to interview Ellen Torbert, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Southwest Airlines about a variety of issues she sees while building culture. I hope you enjoy the insights that she shares below.
GH: Prioritizing diversity and inclusion is essential when building an unstoppable culture. How have you seen those two values positively impact corporate cultures you have been a part of?
ET: The evidence of culture comes from within individuals. Recognizing, appreciating, and celebrating people in ways that are meaningful creates an environment of inclusion. Organizations that have inclusive cultures and celebrate diversity of thought, experience, and capabilities succeed in having happy, productive employees. Creativity and innovation are outcomes of an inclusive culture, and those outcomes result in profitability.
GH: The impact of the Me Too movement has been felt across the country. What’s your advice to corporate culture advocates about how to respond to it?
ET: Ensure an environment of trust where individuals feel safe to voice and bring forward the harassment and bullying. Establish a support system and work to identify how organizations and leaders must change.
GH: We all naturally gravitate towards the fun components of building a great culture, but we all know our greatest challenges lie in the ‘tough stuff.’ How have you found that balance?
ET: Having a servant’s heart and understanding when to leverage “tough love” are critical in creating a great culture. Communication, communication, communication. Did I say communication?
GH: You will be a special guest at the Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship this November. Can you share about what gets you excited about speaking to this group of leaders?
ET: The Unstoppable Cultures Fellowship provides a refreshing environment of comfort that is thought-provoking and inspiring. Having the opportunity to “pay it forward” by sharing with others what I have learned and experienced excites me. I hope to positively impact the attendees and give them some ideas about how to foster an inclusive, unstoppable culture in their own workplace.
Ellen is an incredible culture builder and I appreciate the thoughts she shared with us. I hope you found some valuable takeaways to apply to your current position.
If you want to take a deeper dive, don’t forget to register for our FREE webinar on June 19th where I’ll be sharing three things you can do this month to address the most talked-about organizational culture concerns. I trust that over the course of an hour, you will be equipped and empowered to tackle some of the stickiest issues facing our organizations today.