Did you know that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia to never have been colonized by a Western power or that Moroccan cuisine is considered one of the most diverse cuisines in the world, partially due to its remarkable variety of influences?
These are just a few of the facts we’ve learned through the efforts of the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Human Kinetics. The committee was formed to foster a work environment that welcomes a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences and ensures that no one’s professional growth or advancement is limited because of gender, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, or other categorization.
“We like to find opportunities to make diversity relevant,” said committee member Kelly Taylor, “like tapping into coworkers’ diverse backgrounds to educate others.” Taylor says most of the committee’s programs have focused on internal policies and education, but committee members hope that these experiences will work their way into people’s lives and interactions with others.
Human resources director Tara Swearingen says the formation of the committee was a way to formalize HK’s commitment to diversity education and understanding. “It highlights diversity issues that we need to improve on and keeps diversity and inclusion as a focal point for us,” Swearingen said.
One of the first events sponsored by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. The committee arranged for a recording of the original speech to be streamed continuously in the large conference room during lunchtime on the anniversary date. Many employees attended. Some had never seen the speech in its entirety, and others reminisced about the impact of that day on their own lives.
We found out that our own cafeteria director, Albie Williams, attended the March on Washington that day with his family and fellow church members. It was very special to hear his firsthand account of that historic event.
This February was designated as ethnic food month in the HK cafeteria. One day a week, we were treated to a variety of dishes from Thailand, Greece, and Morocco, plus a home-style soul food meal. Each culinary offering was accompanied by a description of the food, a taste of the culture, and unique facts about the country or region. “Trying something as simple as a different food can facilitate diversity and understanding of other cultures,” said Taylor.
Staying true to their focus on diversity, the committee has a variety of educational opportunities scheduled later this year to cover aspects such as using respectful language and bridging the generational divide. “We want to set the foundation and an environment that is the most respectful and comfortable to all of our employees,” said Swearingen. “We want diversity and inclusion to be assimilated into our culture so that everyone feels the responsibility to sustain an inclusive and diverse workforce.”
Swearingen points out that this commitment to diversity education and understanding also makes good business sense. Human Kinetics is an international company with customers and authors from cultures around the world. “We have the world as our customer,” said Swearingen, “and we have employees throughout the globe as well. Being attuned to their needs and their cultures, values, and insights helps us to be competitive on such a broad scale. We want to continually improve in this area.”
To convey HK’s commitment to our prospective employees, current employees, authors, clients, and customers, the company has formalized their philosophy in a statement on diversity and inclusion:
At Human Kinetics, we respect, appreciate, and value the backgrounds and perspectives of all of our employees. We believe that a culture of inclusion that values the differences among our employees enriches our organization and is integral to achieving our mission of helping people worldwide lead healthier, more active lives. We pledge to provide a respectful environment where everyone is valued and people’s differences are appreciated and embraced.