Article: Craig Ammon, Out and About Nashville
The Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards last month celebrated the accomplishments of local individuals and businesses in advancing LGBT opportunities and advocacy in our community. Nashville-based global tech care company Asurion was the recipient of the Corporate Ally Award for its progressive diversity and inclusion policies, employee engagement programs, community outreach, and their involvement in the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce. It’s amazing how much Asurion has accomplished in just the two years since they established their Pride Employee Resource Group and joined the Chamber.
Every day Asurion’s 19,000 experts help nearly 300 million people around the world solve the most common and uncommon tech issues. Helping you stay connected and get the most from the tech you love is Asurion’s top priority, and Asurion leaders have always known that their talented and enthusiastic employees are critical to the superior customer service they provide. So, the company continually seeks to ensure work-life balance, offer education and promotion opportunities, and foster high morale among its employees. In fact, Asurion has been certified as A Great Place to Work® for the last two consecutive years and named by the Tennessean as a Top Workplace in the Nashville area for the past four years.
While Asurion leadership has always valued diversity in its ranks, it’s a challenge to discover and address what’s needed to foster that diversity. This is where employee resource groups (ERGs) can be so influential in large corporations, such as Asurion. ERGs are meant to serve as the voice of different demographics that can bring ideas and concerns to leadership.
Asurion employee Kimberly Stephan-Tate played an integral role in securing executive support for their Pride Employee Resource Group to support LGBT employees and their allies in 2017. Stephan-Tate had come to Asurion from Dell, which also has a very active Pride ERG. So, she knew the positive impact such groups can have in advocating for inclusive policies.
Stephan-Tate and the other members of the Pride ERG knew that if they were to have a positive impact for their LGBT employees and allies, they would first need to thoroughly evaluate a wide range of corporate policies and training programs before recommending improvements. A core committee of 7-10 people within Asurion’s Pride ERG, working throughout the organization, conducted a 16-month long self-assessment against the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).
Asurion leadership was immediately receptive to their findings and pledged resources to improve their policies and practices on a variety of issues. In just two short years, Asurion has implemented a wide range of policy changes and training programs, including, but not limited to:
- Adding gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation in its Equal Opportunity Employment Commission statement;
- Releasing a gender transition guide for its leaders, human resources team and employees to ensure a successful transition at work;
- Creating and hosting education sessions for employees, which teach inclusive language and help employees navigate scenarios that could pop up at work;
- Updating the donation policy of its non-profit arm, Compassion Forward, against donating philanthropic dollars to anti-LGBTQ organizations.
Earlier this year Asurion received a perfect score of 100 on HRC’s 2019 Corporate Equality Index, acknowledging the amazing strides they’ve made in providing the best possible work environment for their LGBT employees and allies.
According to HRC President Chad Griffin, “The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to the company’s global operations and impacting millions of people beyond our shores… Time and again, leading American businesses have shown that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business.”
Nikki Smith-Bartley, Asurion Vice President and Special Counsel for Diversity and Inclusion, echoes the above sentiment, saying, “We strive to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive environment where all our employees and their perspectives are valued, and where our employees have a sense of belonging. We seek out the best teammates and strive to bring out their full potential through empowerment, diversity and everyday leadership that is driven by humility, open feedback, active coaching and courage.”
Providing these protections and advocacy is good for business because it ensures that companies are attracting the best talent and motivating their employees to give their best every day. Asurion LGBT employees and allies have responded enthusiastically to the culture of diversity Asurion fosters. Meredith Fortney, an Asurion employee who is active in the company’s Pride ERG and serves as Chair of the HRC Board of Governors says, “I came to work here because I knew diversity and inclusion was important. I liked that Asurion focused on creating a safe space for everyone, and it fills me with so much pride. It’s why I’m excited to come to work every day.”
Asurion and its Pride ERG have also provided numerous opportunities for their LGBT employees and allies to connect with one another, show their pride, and come together to provide services to local charities and organizations serving our community. In 2017 Asurion participated only in the Nashville Pride Festival. This year, they will participate in six Pride festivals throughout the US, as well as in the Philippines. Last year Asurion flew the Pride flag above its global headquarters in Nashville for a week in June. This year, Asurion will fly the Pride flag for the entire month of June.
Asurion CEO Tony Detter says, “Asurion is committed to fostering an environment where our employees across the globe feel safe and supported in their different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. To continue to drive innovation, engage our diverse teams, and provide the best customer experience possible on behalf of our partners, we have made a commitment to each other, and now the public to do all we can to drive a culture of inclusion. I’m thrilled at how open our leaders have been to making real change, and how excited and trusting our employees have been as we’ve tackled sensitive issues to drive progress.”
Stephan-Tate sums up the impact of Asurion’s inclusive, diverse work environment well when she says, “I feel I can be my whole self here. I’m not afraid of letting people know that I’m married to a woman, and this is part of who I am. When you can come to work worry-free like I can, it’s a weight off your shoulders. I can’t tell you how proud I am to see Asurion’s advocacy and how far we’ve come be recognized by the HRC,” Stephan-Tate said. “I’m not going to lie, I might’ve teared up a little when I heard the news!”
Want to make Asurion your next Great Place to Work? Asurion has over 19,000 employees in 48 locations around the world, with our global headquarters in Nashville, TN. Click here for career opportunities!
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