As a global talent solutions firm with more than 10,000 employees, Vaco understands that the strongest workplace cultures are the ones where divergent perspectives are welcomed and all team members have the resources needed to achieve their professional goals.

While Vaco has always been committed to this philosophy, the social injustices that occurred in spring 2020 served as a wake-up callto be an organization that continuously advances diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).During this time, Vaco’sleadership team moved to hold company-wide vulnerable and earnestconversationsabout what was happening. Encouraging these conversations from the top down allowed everyone at Vaco to have open and honest dialogue about racial equityand how the firmcan amplify a unified voice. These intentional discussions were pivotal in bridging gaps, building communication and starting on a path to improvement.

Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Cabinet (IDEC) and steering committee

We knew that formalizing our DEI initiatives would take mobilizing leaders across the organization. To that end, we created an employee-led steering committee, consisting of 16 senior leaders and executive sponsors from across the organization who interface directly with Vaco’s C-suite. This committeeis committed to creating a culture that embraces differences, levels the playing field, and empowers everyone to listen, act, and promote social justice and unequivocal inclusion. In addition to the council, a larger Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Cabinet (IDEC) was established as an open employee resource group to facilitate the identification of any issues and provide ideas for new initiatives and programs.

Creating an action roadmap

With the recognition that our DEI initiatives were already aligned with Vaco’scommitment to advance best practices, use industry benchmarks, implement community involvement and education, and adhere to innovative hiring approaches, we set out to create a formal DEI program.

Our first step in creating our action roadmap was to conduct the very first IDEC survey of all employees. The survey centered around feelings of belonging, inclusion, and psychological safety.Thesurvey informed our DEI roadmap centered on increasing awareness, providing training and development opportunities, enabling diversity recruitment, and strengthening ties between team members.

As our roadmap evolved, the conversations continued into 2021 in the form of an eight-part “Uncomfortable Conversation Series,” engaging hundreds of Vaco employees globally. Topics included counteracting stereotypes, examining one’s role in diversity, the intersection of gender and LGBTQ+, using culture to navigate the candidate recession, celebrating cultural events like Hispanic Heritage month, law enforcement,anddiscussions on gratitude.

"Vaco’s diversity initiatives extended into new horizons empowering change while focusing on the key areas of advancement, promotion , and integration"

During these conversations, our teams had the opportunity to hear varying perspectives firsthand and to ask questions for clarity and understanding. And ultimately, this discussion series laid the foundation for Vaco to discover meaningful, respectful forums in which we could engage with one another on topics of diversity and inclusion – and encourage both understanding and growth.

Empowering change from within – core initiatives

To change the world, we must first change from within. Vaco’s IDEC, chaired by our senior director of diversity & inclusion – a newly created position – is leading our transformation by focusing on three key areas:

• Vaco’s diversity initiatives extended into new horizons empowering change while focusing on the key areas of advancement (championing Vaco leaders to be models of change and influence by driving diversity and unequivocal inclusion), promotion (expanding efforts to level the playing field and to encourage courageous and authentic discussions), and integration (empowering individuality by integrating the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout Vaco).

• Vaco instituting a reverse mentoring program for executive leadership. Through the program, each executive meets with and builds a relationship with a team member from an underserved population. The goal is to build bridges and gain a deeper understanding and informed perspective different from your own. Through this connection and understanding, the reverse mentoring program also helps to increase exposure of the mentors with senior leadership.

• Institute a formal leadership training program by credible diversity and inclusion experts and ensures all team members across Vaco could attend. Current and future initiatives include partnership and internship programs with HBCUs, recruiting efforts aimed at professionals with non-traditional backgrounds and experience, and then externally, helping Vaco’s clients that do not have a specific D&I program or internal resources improve their outcomes as well. 

Commitment to diverse, equitable hiring

Being agents of change means encompassing more voices and more people. Vaco’s DEI commitment extends to four key values to transform the recruitment process:

• Focus: Prioritizing attitudes over resumes to measure success

• Fairness: Using scorecards to apply standards equitably

• Reach: Expanding our networks to tap into more talent pools

• Data: Measuring success and progress along the way

Vaco has always been dedicated to welcoming and celebrating the whole person. As we continue to diversify and champion equitable hiring practices, we remain committed to positive systemic, sustainable change.