Brands are a lot like people. It’s easy for us to commit to change when it’s convenient and on trend. But the follow through? That’s where true colors are exposed.
So earlier this year, when our nation was confronted with another highly explicit example of racial injustice, we committed to being a part of the change our society desperately needs. But at the same time, we realized our efforts would fall short if we simply focused on a few “surface fixes” internally.
To be a part of change that actually sticks, we had to look across our entire community — our residents, our team, and the partners we work with. And as much as we’d like, that change isn’t going to happen overnight. But we are doing everything we can to make sure it happens as quickly as possible.
Here’s a look at some of the steps we took to identify problem areas, before formalizing opportunities and programs to address them.
How It Started
Rather than a response that relied heavily on a top-down approach, we began the process with a listening tour that took place on our first-ever celebration of Juneteenth.
“It meant a lot that Alfred jumped on Juneteenth so quickly,” said La-Kingya Singleton, an Alfred Field Specialist in Atlanta. “[Since the celebration], keeping up with the cause has had an ongoing impact on our community. It wasn’t just a one day event.”
Our focus going into Juneteenth was an intentional pause to celebrate and educate the entire team, starting with a company-wide meeting, before breaking off into smaller discussion groups. The various ideas and points of view on how to instill change — as a company and in the communities we operate — inspired us to create an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) working group to identify problems and co-create potential solutions.
The group is intentionally being built with employees from all departments, job levels and markets. It’s not only a way to keep ourselves honest, but a way to ensure outcomes of the work are truly representative of the people who work here (and not just a handful of executives).
Both La-Kingya and Sandy Simmons, a Lead Alfred in Los Angeles, are currently members of our EDI working group.
“The EDI group’s been great bringing us together, and I’m getting to know many of my coworkers across the country,” Sandy said. “I love how diverse the group is, and also like that [it] doesn’t just consist of ‘corporate.’ It has Alfreds, as well.”
For those unfamiliar with Alfred, it’s not only the name of our company, but it’s also how we refer to staff who directly service and handle face-to-face interactions with customers. But unlike other tech companies who have “gig relationships” with staff in this position, we value and see them a very integral part of the company. And like any other full-time employee at the company, they’re W-2 workers with full benefits.
By the Numbers
One of our goals at Alfred is to build a workforce that’s as diverse as the communities we work in. And to determine where we needed to focus our building efforts, we ran a company-wide survey to better understand our strengths and weaknesses in terms of diversity, using the national census as our point of reference.
While we’re committed to diversity in all forms, the survey primarily focused on gender, race & ethnicity, LGBTQ+, ableism, parents in the workforce, and veteran employment.
Based on the results of the survey, we identified strength in the areas of female executive leadership (and female representation in the workforce overall), racial diversity in the workforce, diversity of sexual orientation on all levels (including executive leadership), employees living with a disability, and parent representation among both our Alfreds and executive leadership teams.
We also have room for improvement, and are identifying ways to build greater diversity in regards to racial diversity on our management and executive leadership teams, gender diversity in our non-executive management positions at HomeQ, increasing the proportion of our foreign-born and foreign-language workforce, and increasing the number of veterans we employ.
One of the ways we’re trying to improve is by doubling down on our equitable culture. That means providing growth opportunities to employees across all areas of the company. La-Kingya, who started with the company as an Alfred, has been promoted to a Field Specialist role where she now works with vendors and helps other Alfreds.
“It’s been so exciting helping others drum up business,” La-Kingya told us. “I can help a partner company go from being a small business to a big business because of our commitment to the community.”
“When you work hard, you will reap the benefits,” Sandy said. Since starting as an Alfred, she’s helped us launch in two different buildings in the Los Angeles area. As a newly promoted Alfred, she now spends half her time working in hospitality operations for the company.
“It’s not random people taking the job titles and getting promotions. It’s people you know in your circle. It gives inspiration to other Alfreds.”
What’s Next for Alfred
While we still have our share of work to do internally, we’re also committed to similar equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives in our marketplace and member communities. In particular, we’re focusing on formalizing plans and programs:
- Member diversity, building inclusive member programs, and building community
- Vendor diversity, partnerships and relations
- Real estate partnerships
- Community Mentorship Programs
Alfred remains a company committed to helping build a more equal and just world, and we will continue to make these initiatives a priority. In the coming months, we’ll update you on steps we’ve taken to accomplish our goals.