Resin distributor M. Holland Co. has taken steps to make diversity a primary goal.
"Diversity is a lens into how we look at all areas of our organization," Senior Diversity and Inclusion Manager Linsea Waugh said in a recent phone interview. "We don't look at it as just a program or an initiative."
In 2018, Northbrook, Ill.-based M. Holland established a Diversity and Inclusion Council of 18-20 employees from across the organization to promote the firm's diversity initiatives. The council works with a steering committee of 10 executive leaders.
"We're working to recognize and celebrate diverse experiences, but there are still some communities that are underrepresented," Waugh said.
M. Holland has expanded its recruiting and hiring efforts and is working with search firms. The company has installed a blind resume process, which Waugh said is intended to remove certain identifiers and unconscious biases.
"Diversity is a point of conversation in interviews with job candidates," Waugh said. "They want to see that it's part of the company. It's important to the industry and to the future of M. Holland."
Most recently, M. Holland formed a Women's Employee Resource Group in June. Officials said the group brings together female employees and male allies across the company to cultivate an inclusive environment that supports and encourages women to advance their skills and leadership potential through connection, mentorship, collaboration and innovation.
Measuring diversity and inclusion "isn't an exact science," Waugh said, but M. Holland is looking at its demographics, turnover rates, promotion rates and learning opportunities.
"We're looking at how to evaluate diversity and how to measure what matters," she added.
Waugh joined M. Holland in 2020 and is herself the daughter of an immigrant, as her father was born in South Africa. "I wouldn't be here [at M. Holland] if the buy-in on diversity wasn't at the very top of the organization," she said. "That filters through to the rest of the company."
In an email, Waugh added that "only focusing on bringing diverse voices into an organization is like only reading chapter one of a life-changing book."
"What is even more important is how those voices are supported, developed and empowered within the organization, which in turn helps to attract even more diverse voices into the talent pipeline," she added.
Other diversity and inclusion efforts at M. Holland include:
• Voice of M. Holland, an internal listening series to help company employees better understand the diverse experiences of colleagues. The first panel in the series featured Black colleagues; the second featured female colleagues. A third panel will support Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month featuring employees from both the U.S. and Mexico.
• Fika Time was created by M. Holland's Diversity and Inclusion Council and facilitated by its Executive Leadership Team. It's a 45-minute mental health break where small groups come together to connect and build relationships with colleagues they would not regularly interact with in the day.
• M. Holland's Black History Month Book Club brought employees together to have a meaningful and open dialogue about race. The club held two sessions — one in English and one in Spanish. Waugh said it was "eye-opening" to learn how the concept of race and diversity varies across cultures.
• To help expand reach and learn from other organizations, M. Holland this year has established three formalized partnerships with D&I networks: CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, Women in Manufacturing and the 2021 Illinois Women's Conference.
M. Holland is one of North America's largest resin distributors, selling more than $1 billion in materials to more than 4,000 customers annually.