By Krysta Riggle and Ira-Sofia Giovanetti
In past articles and podcasts, we have talked about our company’s core values: effectiveness, partnership, honesty, open mindedness, engagement, and health. More and more, it is becoming apparent to us that all these values roll up into health. Health — physical, mental, emotional, and psychological — is the backbone of our culture at BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, and it is particularly relevant to the conversations that we are having in light of COVID-19 and social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter.
In order to engage in these conversations, it is important for us to have an environment of psychological safety. Can our teammates express their opinions and beliefs, ask for help, and share mistakes without fear of ridicule, judgement, or rejection? If we can answer “yes” to that question, then we have created a space where people can feel safe and show up to work as their authentic selves. And that’s where the magic happens.
While this is an environment that we strive for, we can sometimes miss the mark. We have been working on our culture for years — and the work is hard. And if you’re one of the many people out there that don’t know how to get started on culture work in your own business, you’re not alone! We weren’t experts either, just a group of people that have incrementally tried things, made mistakes, learned, and tried again.
As we were working on fostering a culture of psychological safety, we did not know what was about to happen in the world, nor how integral our commitment to health would be. This year has consistently presented us with opportunities to ask the question: are we in integrity with our core value of health? The COVID-19 pandemic was the first challenge that involved high uncertainty and fear. Our CEO Boaz Soifer quickly created space for our employees to communicate their true feelings in daily internal town halls. When the murder of George Floyd happened, our employees openly shared that they were hurting and wanted to create change and justice in our world.
These events have highlighted the need to double down on our work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so that we can create space for all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and backgrounds to show up as their authentic selves. We started to ask questions: How can we as teammates and colleagues help to support social justice? What are we as a company doing to reach diverse applicants? Are our policies and processes anti-racist?
All businesses have the power to create opportunities for people. Within our business, we are working on a roadmap for our People Experience (PX) department’s vision by taking stock of our current policies and processes and thinking about where we want to be in the future. Since our last iteration of PX policy and process work, we continue to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices, and we see an opportunity to create better policies and processes that incorporate what we have learned.
To start, our People Experience team has weekly workshops to break down our work into the segments of an employee’s experience – recruiting, hiring, onboarding, evaluations, development, offboarding, and administration – and we are looking at each of those segments critically through our DEI lens. One step at a time.
Over the next few months, we will continue to share with our #SolarFam how our progress is going. We hope to create a space where others can learn from our successes and setbacks, and we would love for you to engage with us in this work! If you have comments on the work we are doing, suggestions for how we can do better, or questions about how we got started, let’s have a conversation. We can continue to challenge each other to do better, together as an industry and as a community.