Lautman’s DEI Journey
NEWSLETTER, April 2023
One of our core beliefs at Lautman Maska Neill & Company is that the success of our company is dependent on the diversity of our staff, their experiences and talents. This diversity has the potential to make us more creative, more innovative and, ultimately, enable us to be the best fundraising partner to the organizations we serve.
But belief without action is just a nice idea. And so, over five years ago, under the leadership of partners Tiffany Neill and Lisa Maska, Lautman Maska Neill & Company embarked on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) journey.
Along the way, we’ve learned a great deal about what we need to do to make ours a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive company. Chief among these is the fact that unlike many journeys, DEI doesn’t have an end point. There won’t be a time where we cross the finish line, collect our medal and hang up our running shoes. Like any other value, we need to live it every day and in all aspects of our work so that it is a truly a defining characteristic of our firm.
A critical part of our DEI journey has been education and training. Many of us didn’t know that much about diversity, equity and inclusion when we started. We needed to begin by creating common language and understanding about DEI, including what DEI means and exploring ideas around power, privilege and micro-aggressions. We engaged an outside partner who specializes in helping companies along this journey. Her “no shame, no blame” approach to these topics has helped create a safe environment where all of us, regardless of where we are on our personal DEI journey, can increase our knowledge. This education is ongoing as we continue to invest in providing opportunities for our staff to learn more about DEI and about each other.
The next significant step we’ve taken is to shine a bright light on our company processes and procedures to determine where we need to innovate to lean in to our DEI values. To do this, we again engaged with outside experts who have helped us work with our entire staff in developing a DEI roadmap. This work helped us clarify what a diverse and inclusive workplace “looks like” and the areas we need to focus on to get there. Together, we identified three main areas that we want to work on over the next several years: recruitment and hiring, staff retention and creating an inclusive culture.
An important part of this workplan – and any DEI initiative – is defining the resources needed to accomplish the work. One of these resources is time. We will not be successful in our endeavors if moving our DEI goals forward is something that happens in an employee’s spare time. The other resource is money. Our budget already includes a line item for DEI initiatives and this will continue to evolve to help us meet our goals.
Its gratifying to see how far we’ve come on our DEI journey – how diversity, equity and inclusion are becoming more and more a part of every conversation about how the company is run. We know that we can’t change the entire world. But we can have a real impact on the people we work with every day and in turn fulfill our company’s vision of making ours a more just, beautiful and compassionate world.