Making a difference in your business through diversity, equity and inclusion

At Delta Dental of Illinois, diversity, equity and inclusion is more than hiring and retaining a diverse pool of talented professionals. It's also creating a workplace environment where employees feel seen, heard and respected.

Delta Dental of Illinois has a diverse customer base and works with many diverse partners and communities. To fully serve our customers, partners and communities, we've done our best to have an equally diverse workforce. Our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are vital to what we sell and how we serve and operate.

Enhancing DEI in your company

Strive to make your office safe for constructive, two-way communication.

The first step in facilitating two-way communication is asking for feedback. Delta Dental of Illinois conducts employee surveys to gather this feedback, so employees feel heard. According to our results, 93% agreed that leadership is open to employee input.

Training to make a difference.

Training plays a key role in Delta Dental of Illinois' DEI work. We focus training on what makes an inclusive culture by keeping a pulse on what our employees think we are doing well, where we may fall short and how we can best support them.

This has been working, as 95% of current employees report being satisfied with us as an employer, and the New Hire Survey in 2021 showed 97% of our new hires were satisfied with the company and their team lead.

We continue to revamp training on inclusive leadership, facilitating two-way communication and identifying unconscious biases.

Offer opportunities for professional development and growth to ensure all employees are engaged.

In late 2021, Delta Dental of Illinois joined Chicago United, a Chicago-based professional membership organization that seeks to achieve economic opportunity parity for people of color. Chicago United does this by advancing multiracial leadership in corporate governance, expanding the talent pipeline for executive-level management and growing minority businesses.

Create a hiring process that is both intentional and strategic.

Connect directly with candidates by targeting local diverse professional organizations and university groups. This approach shows prospective hires that your company is committed to recruiting diverse talent. We post specific positions within national and local diverse professional organizations like the Chicago Chapter of The National Association of Black Accountants and the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources. We have also started partnering with area community colleges and will begin increased engagement with local university affinity groups.

Build a benefits package based on what your employees truly want and need.

Use your employees' direct feedback to identify the most important benefits to them. It's valuable to recognize that the priorities of a diverse population are always evolving.

We've taken this approach and made some programs more equitable. Our annual tuition reimbursement was increased to foster educational opportunities for our employees. A more robust paid parental leave was created to benefit all parents, and a volunteer time off policy was made to encourage team members to contribute to their communities.

Provide opportunities and resources for cross-cultural understanding to empower all employees.

Not only will this enable employees to connect and understand one another, but it also allows them to understand your clients and surrounding communities. One way we achieve this is through our Lunch & Learn events, which are accompanied by an activity where employees can volunteer or support the speaker's organization or cause.

Make space for the recognition of difference through enjoying commonalities like exploring art, food, dance theater and music.

This is when true engagement and understanding occur, and when real progress is seen. At Delta Dental of Illinois, we have highlighted the joy of DEI through our regular internal communication channels, cultural cooking demonstrations and musical performances, as well as an engaging video on employee holiday traditions.

Learn more about how Delta Dental of Illinois promotes a culture of inclusivity, offers advancement opportunities and fosters an open dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion.

• Rheaana Guess, vice president, People and Diversity Officer, oversees human resources at Delta Dental of Illinois and its subsidiary companies. Her responsibilities include the development and growth of team members, recruitment, succession planning and employment counsel. Guess is also responsible for the development and implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, including trainings and programming, employee affinity groups and mentoring programs to continue fostering an inclusive culture that will attract, hire and retain a diverse workforce.

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