A Year into our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey: So Much Progress, So Much More to Go
Throughout my career, I’ve been dedicated to helping improve the quality of life for employees. Working in different human resources roles—and now as Division Director of Total Rewards, People Care Center and Head of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at BAYADA Home Health Care—I have seen firsthand the positive impact that takes place when people feel truly valued and supported. And that’s one of the main reasons that drew me to BAYADA: because we believe employees are our greatest asset and creating an environment where employees can thrive is paramount.
I’ve also seen, of course, those individuals who don’t feel an equal sense of belonging—whether it’s due to their race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, or any other attribute that makes them feel ‘different.’ Last year as the world turned upside down between the pandemic and tremendous social unrest in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, those ‘differences’ became front and center in the form of racism.
At that time, I saw a lot of companies rush to put out press releases and ads in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For some, it was nothing more than just checking a box to publicly announce they stand against racism and all forms of prejudice. For others, it was the start or an extension of implementing processes and policies that create systemic change. That’s where BAYADA is working to live.
Turning a moment into a movement
Inspired by his own sense of sadness and anger—as well as by employees who were hurting because of the lack of allyship within their own company—our CEO David Baiada put a stake in the ground and started all of us on a journey toward true diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
This one moment turned into a movement, creating a ripple that continues to spread further and wider. We launched a dedicated DEI office. We partnered with The Diversity Movement to help guide our efforts, while we committed to learning, listening, sharing, and organizing. We got comfortable with the uncomfortable by having open conversations where we explored our own feelings, perspectives, and biases. We hosted CEO-led town halls on topics like race, LGBTQIA+, religion, neurodiversity, and so many others that give people a platform for discussion and understanding. There were DEI trainings for leadership and employees on topics like how to respond to clients who are biased when requesting a caregiver.
We provided open forums for ideas and suggestions and responded swiftly with improvements such as hearing impairment accommodations and a more flexible and inclusive holiday policy, to three newly formed employee resource councils. We have set into motion policies that not only address inequities now, but we are committed to evolving our DEI work so that one day, every single employee feels empowered to be their authentic self without judgment or worry.
As a woman of color in a leadership role, I am honored to work for an organization that is truly committed to the journey of work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am hoping that future generations of leaders of all components of diversity can feel free to be themselves in an environment where they can thrive, innovative, and contribute to their fullest potential. And in doing so, raise the bar for learning, listening, and sharing to cultivate an inclusive community with equitable offerings, putting their company on a better path than it is on now.
The BAYADA Way guides us on our journey
For us, in some ways this journey has been new territory, but in others, it has felt very familiar and natural—like an extension of our values-based culture. It is not a just a stance or a fad. Inclusiveness and a sense of belonging is part and parcel of what we call The BAYADA Way, which is comprised of our mission, vision, values and beliefs. Every day, in every interaction, The BAYADA Way is our guidepost, our True North.
At BAYADA, DEI is infused in the work we do and seeps into our personal lives as well. The road we have chosen is the road less traveled, and by looking beyond ourselves, we hope to become a shining example of what good likes in the communities that we serve and will serve tomorrow.
Now, a little more than a year after we launched our DEI journey, we find ourselves having made great progress, but knowing there is so much further to go. Yet we are confident that we’ll continue down this path with the same commitment and energy that we started with because DEI—just like our mission to improve the quality of life for clients and employees—is the fulfillment of The BAYADA Way.