The Big Question
The Big Question: Stephanie Doliveira
Q: Why start with inclusion?
People are at the center of everything we do at Sheetz. Our company’s values—our Sheetz DNA—compel our actions to be people-centric. Demonstrating respect, a core component of our values, means honoring and recognizing diverse experiences, individual identities and unique perspectives.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the murder of George Floyd, we acknowledged we were way behind in our diversity and inclusion efforts. We pride ourselves in having an employee-centric culture. But we were missing intentionality. An authentically inclusive workplace and having diverse representation at all levels doesn’t just happen. It requires intentionality and effort.
This realization meant we quickly needed to learn, listen, be vulnerable and humbly approach this culture-shifting work.
Getting this right is critical to the future of our company. The business reasons for embracing inclusion and diversity are well documented. Changes in demographics and a shrinking labor pool are trends we can’t ignore. And just as important, getting this right matters to our people and culture.
We named this work our IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility) Initiative, an integral part of our corporate strategy. Placing the “I” at the beginning was intentional.
Why start with inclusion? We learned that a culture with strong underpinnings of inclusion is foundational to embracing diverse perspectives. A company made up of diverse individuals isn’t automatically inclusive.
Education is paramount. Our executive team committed to reading books, listening to podcasts and hiring outside experts. If we are going to get this right, we must learn about our biases and humbly acknowledge when we have been wrong, where our words and actions could have been better. Then change. Education has been shared with all employees. Our goal is to raise awareness and change behavior, resulting in a great workplace for all.
We launched employee resource groups, providing underrepresented employees an amplified voice and network of support. ERGs are safe, inclusive spaces for those who may otherwise feel excluded. ELEVATE, a group dedicated to supporting Black employees, launched first, with other groups forming to support women, LGBTQIA+ and Latinx employees.
This is a journey. Opening our hearts and minds not only creates a better work environment, but it’s a chance to embrace humanity, making a better world. Personally and professionally, individually and together. Our collective future will be brighter if we get this right.