The shifting demographics within our communities, cities, states, and our nation have created a challenging landscape for many businesses to navigate. While these changes can be intimidating, companies that choose to move beyond “business as usual” and intentionally develop a business and client base that reflect the larger community are uniquely positioned to become the innovators in their industries. Businesses have always had an idea of what it takes to be economically successful. However, they have been less sure about how to develop and sustain equitable and inclusive workplaces nor how more inclusive workplaces can benefit both their stakeholders and their long-term economic success. While there are efforts throughout the world to activate diversity and inclusion programs, the majority of these programs fail, due to a lack of understanding what D & I is and isn’t. They also fail due to the absence of a champion, sponsor or leader who models the path that these new behaviors and understandings require.
I believe Industrial Supply Company has been a leader in this effort. In the late eighties, our then CEO made a statement to the company saying that “he was going to assure that Industrial Supply would be a leader in inclusive behaviors and actions”. It didn’t take long for him to start taking action. In the early stages of his changes, the idea of inclusion was confused with diversity, which is a common misnomer in industry. The reality is that inclusion and diversity are two different things. Diversity can entail having spaces where diverse thoughts are presented, or where there exist a mix of people with differing racial, ethnic and gender backgrounds, working in close proximity to one another. Inclusion is having diverse individuals sitting at the tables where decisions are made.
Today, corporations and industries struggle with how to create and sustain inclusive environments. The reasonings behind the struggle can be the result of many factors, but there are two elements that are paramount to the creation of inclusive environments. One is that the desire to have an inclusive environment is authentic. As mentioned previously, ISC’s former CEO was successful in implementing inclusion by being authentic in his desire to do so. The second is that a company’s leaders must demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity . Change is guided from the highest levels down, which is how culture is created and, if done with authenticity, can be sustainable.
Industrial Supply Company has been a leader in creating an inclusive workplace, and the company’s efforts go beyond policy. One can simply visit our website and view the makeup of the executive team, and visit our operations, to see the vast differences in people in every department. This was not accomplished by accident, nor was it created simply as an experiment. The environment that contains our customers, shareholders, team members and community, is that of a company at the forefront of innovation. Not only in the products and services we provide, but in the leadership that drives the integration of change and inclusion.
About The Author:
Shawn Newell is Industrial Supply’s Vice President of Business Development. Shawn approaches his leadership role in Sales with the same competitive spirit that drove him to succeed in football at the University of Utah and with the Chicago Bears. He received his BS in Sociology from the University of Utah, AS in Marketing Management from SLCC, and Masters in Management from the University of Phoenix. Shawn is the current Vice President of the NAACP Salt Lake Chapter, a PAC member of the Salt Lake Community College’s marketing department, a board member for the Utah Board of Education representing District 10, a Certified Sports Conditioning Specialist, and Certified Strength Coach.
Since his start date in 1985, Shawn has always viewed his connection to customers as essential to understanding their needs. “We differentiate ourselves at Industrial Supply by being proactive and creating value for our customers.”