The Value of a Diverse and Inclusive Culture
At Allegiance Bank, we strive to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace. Diversity and inclusivity have always been important but are increasingly so as today’s society has a range of personal and professional viewpoints. With this wide range of viewpoints, it is imperative to Allegiance Bank that our organization and employees understand, take responsibility for and own an inclusive workplace culture.
We sat down with our Chief Human Resources Officer, Stacy Tiger, for a Q&A on the value of an inclusive and diverse workplace culture. Stacy leads our Employee Experience which includes talent attraction, employee engagement and employee development. She also helps lead Customer Experience and Community Engagement at Allegiance Bank.
AB: What does the term “inclusive workplace culture” mean to you?
Stacy: An inclusive workplace culture means ALL employees feel a sense of belonging, they feel respected and valued for who they are, and they feel a level of support and commitment from others so they can do their best work.
AB: Tell us about the most recent “inclusive workplace culture” initiative you are working on within your role at Allegiance Bank.
Stacy: Since its formation, Allegiance Bank has always focused on fostering the employee experience as a core value. That is why we view the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy as additive to our culture and just one more way to enhance the employee engagement.
At the core of our DE&I initiative, we will be focusing first and foremost on workplace belonging. Part of this includes forming a DE&I team led by our Chairman and CEO. The DE&I team will help develop the strategy we carry out at the Bank and will include numerous action steps such as the development of a commitment statement, educational opportunities, and more. We also have spent the last year evaluating our onboarding process so that employees would feel that immediate sense of belonging upon accepting an offer to join the Bank and to experience our values in action. Our leaders work to make “fostering a diverse and inclusive culture” an ongoing initiative that is consistently top of mind.
AB: What does it mean to you to have a diverse and inclusive culture at Allegiance Bank?
Stacy: Diversity and inclusion has always been a priority for the Bank and continues to be top of mind. For 11 years in a row, we have been named as one of the Best Places to Work by the Houston Chronicle. Part of earning that distinction is asking our employees questions such as whether they feel that their voice is heard, whether they feel valued, and if we operate by strong values. We take the feedback seriously and realize that belonging and fitting in are foundational to being a place people want to work for each and every day.
We have all experienced the feeling of “not belonging;” whether that be in our personal or professional lives. It doesn’t feel good. Working to make employees feel as if they belong and creating a psychologically safe place to be and work is more important than ever in our workplaces. If employees feel as if they don’t belong or fit in – they are not focused on what is good for the team, department, or the Bank as a whole – they are focused on “how do I fit in?”
AB: Can you elaborate?
Stacy: If you have ever hit your knee, elbow or stubbed your toe, you know that for quite a while until the pain subsides – your focus is not on the work at hand – but on your toe, knee, or whatever is causing you physical pain. This is exactly what employees experience when they feel left out or don’t feel a sense of belonging or value. This concept is referred to as “social pain” and it exists. We now know, thanks to advances in neuroscience, that how our brain processes physical pain is very similar to how it processes social pain. Feeling like an outsider is like a punch in the gut.
AB: What is the value and impact of an inclusive workplace culture to both your employees and your customers?
Stacy: The benefits are very real but sometimes hard to quantify. When employees feel that “true sense of belonging” – which is foundational to fostering an inclusive environment where their true self is valued – they are more engaged, more collaborative and they contribute at a higher level of performance. They feel free to share their ideas and thoughts which leads to the discovery of innovative solutions that positively impact our employee AND customer experience.
At Allegiance Bank, it is important for our employees to understand, take responsibility for and own an inclusive culture. All of us, not just the management team, are accountable for our colleague’s wellbeing and sense of belonging. Then and only then will we experience the work environment we all want to belong to, the one based on trust that is welcoming and allows everyone to be their most authentic self at work each and every day.