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Diversity and Inclusion: One Team’s Journey 11.12.2020 | John Bartoloni

relocation diversity

We’re mobility professionals. We help people from all walks of life, with every kind of job, from every global industry and from every corner of the earth. Of course, we’re all experts on the ins and outs of cultural diversity… right? Actually, maybe not so much. Recent events from this past summer tell a different story — a story that includes caring and compassion for our fellow colleagues and a desire to better understand and appreciate each other.

The civil unrest this summer affected all of us in different ways. Emotions over this unrest within our colleague base included fear, hurt, anger, uncertainty and even isolation. To some, these reactions to the situation were not new, to others they were uncomfortable, and still to others they were confusing. Some chose to deal with these emotions by talking, others with silence. As many of us have learned this summer, saying nothing is not an answer.

Our colleagues struggled with the circumstances, and soon it became obvious that help in the form of training and cultural/diversity awareness was needed. As mentioned earlier, we are well aware of the different cultures we service in our jobs, but sometimes are blind to the diverse cultures that make up our teams/company. An awakening to this diversity, and how to navigate and embrace it, was needed and it was more important than ever to live out our Corporate Beliefs, especially our belief in Open Doors and Open Minds. So, as our organization often does when we need training, support and expertise, we turned to our EVP of Talent Development & Engagement, Chris Brunone, for assistance.

As luck would have it, Chris was actually in the process of evaluating several different providers of Diversity and Inclusion training curricula for Weichert Companies as an enterprise and had even narrowed it down to one he thought was best as a critical thinking and self-reflecting foundational experience. A group of colleagues agreed to pilot the program, a video-based curriculum, on behalf of our organization. Afterwards, they proposed certain modifications that they believed would make the courses better suited to our company. The revised training videos have been approved and will be rolled out to the entire company very soon as part of a larger enterprise wide initiative.

While the training session was a great start, we recognized the value in continuing our efforts to improve our understanding of others and we sought out additional sources to help us continue to do just that. We sourced some general programs, but also looked to mobility industry sources for more customized content and found that the Minnesota ERC group was offering a virtual session which brought together relocation professionals who shared stories of overt bias, racism and discrimination. These stories were personal and emotional, and brought awareness (and tears) to the audience.

After this webinar, our volunteer group joined together to talk about the session and share our personal experiences with the topic. Team members had the courage and the fortitude to listen, learn and deepen their ability to understand and empathize. Chris summarized the experience aptly: “These actions are tremendous examples of leadership, reinforcing that our focus on Legendary Service is an internal and external challenge, the on-going challenge to move from Judgment to Understanding, from Understanding to Respect, from Respect to Appreciation and from Appreciation to Valuing others!”

The team has since had many conversations on the topic and looks forward to more dialogue with the goal of better understanding and appreciating one another for their unique perspectives, strengths and values. Everyone agrees that with the isolation that COVID has brought upon us, these efforts are more important than ever for bridging communication gaps. Our company (and our world) needs a variety of different voices in order to be its best for all those we serve.

At Weichert, we’re working daily to ensure that those voices, all of them, are heard. It’s good for business and it’s good for the quality of our conversations. Without conversations, nothing happens. With good conversations comes faster problem-solving, better decision making, greater innovation and progress.

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Written by John Bartoloni

John has over 35 years of experience in the workforce mobility industry, and has held a broad range of strategic leadership positions in business development and client relations. In his current role as Senior Vice President, Weichert OMNIA Mobility Lead, John is responsible for developing and managing our partnership with OMNIA, and the programs we offer through OMNIA’s mobility category. This includes operational management, pipeline management, partner training, new program development, continuous improvement initiatives and relationship management.

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