At Eck­ler, di­ver­sity is just an­other day at the of­fice

National Post (Latest Edition) - - MOST ADMIRED CORPORATE CULTURES -

Di­ver­sity in the work­place is some­thing many or­ga­ni­za­tions can only as­pire to, but at Eck­ler it’s an­other day at the of­fice.

So much so that they re­cently in­vited a group of Ni­a­gara Univer­sity Ph. D. can­di­dates re­search­ing that very topic to con­duct an on- site cul­tural as­sess­ment. Not sur­pris­ingly, the re­sults were su­perb.

Among the study team is John Oliphant, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Rochester In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, and Gina Pizzi­coni- Cup­ples, a ma­jor in the U. S. Air Force Re­serve. In a re­port they write that Eck­ler’s cul­ture ex­tends be­yond a state of di­ver­sity and re­sem­bles a ki­netic, in­clu­sive, co­he­sive or­ga­ni­za­tion. The firm cel­e­brates di­ver­sity of thought and in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ence, rather than gen­der, race, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or other sur­face-level in­di­ca­tors.

“Eck­ler was in­cred­i­bly re­cep­tive in open­ing their doors for us,” Oliphant says. “We had full ac­cess to both the em­ploy­ees and the prin­ci­pals. When we looked around the large room where a vol­un­teer group of em­ploy­ees as­sem­bled to dis­cuss their views on di­ver­sity, it was like a gath­er­ing of the United Na­tions. It was an amaz­ingly di­verse cross-sec­tion of peo­ple.

“They ob­tain di­ver­sity, but not in a way that I have ever seen be­fore. By fo­cus­ing on find­ing tal­ented em­ploy­ees who en­hance the cul­ture of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, they end up with a di­verse work­force ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing ex­cep­tional ser­vices for their clients. The firm doesn’t be­lieve in mi­cro- man­age­ment and em­ploy­ees are given the free­dom to be cre­ative and come up with new ideas. Ev­ery­one in­volved in the field pro­ject agreed that this place is spe­cial.”

Pizzi­coni- Cup­ples says that while “di­ver­sity can be a light­ning rod of a topic,” she was fas­ci­nated by how quickly the Eck­ler lead­er­ship agreed to host the study team, re­gard­less of the out­come of the re­port. “They knew it was aca­demic in na­ture and I think the prin­ci­pals were in­ter­ested in get­ting a base­line as­sess­ment on how they were do­ing in terms of their cul­ture and their di­ver­sity and how can they do it bet­ter.

“You can make an or­ga­ni­za­tion look di­verse in short or­der — as quickly as one to two weeks — but they don’t do that; it’s not their ap­proach to just check a box. They are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in get­ting the right fit for the work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. It is def­i­nitely above and be­yond what we were ex­pect­ing.

“For the em­ploy­ees it proved that the lead­er­ship was gen­uine in want­ing to as­sess their cur­rent state and see what im­prove­ments could be made go­ing for­ward. I can see why they con­tinue to do well.”

Oliphant, mean­while, says that many com­pa­nies could learn a great deal from the firm’s nim­ble, en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit.

“If I am a heavy- handed boss who tries to throw his weight around and make ev­ery­body feel in­se­cure that is not go­ing to lead to the best for my com­pany. If I take the au­thor­ity that I have and I share it with oth­ers and em­power them to be­come all that they can be, that is go­ing to be so good for my clients and good for my busi­ness.

“You can achieve much greater things if each per­son feels in­vested and re­ally wants to ded­i­cate them­selves.”

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