At Eckler, diversity is just another day at the office
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.”