50 Years of Pride: A Letter to Employees
June 26, 2020
In the summer of 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City, sparking five days of riots where LGBTQ+ people protested police harassment and the laws allowing them to be targeted, tracked and arrested. Exactly one year later, on June 28, 1970, New Yorkers gathered again at the Stonewall to remember the riots and march for equal rights under the law.
This Sunday marks the 50-year anniversary of that first Pride march, and that alone would be worth recognizing. But this year there’s another reason to celebrate. Building on the Civil Rights act of 1964, the Supreme Court voted last week to legally protect millions of LGBTQ+ Americans from workplace discrimination, affirming the policies we’ve had at Steelcase for a long time.
Our core values remind us to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to promote positive relationships. And our support of Steelcase Pride, Steelcase Social Innovation and DEI affirm our commitment to live out our values and welcome the unique contributions and inherent potential of all people.
Over the past several weeks we’ve had numerous employee conversations about diversity, and I want to thank you for using your voice to keep those discussions going. We know there’s more we can do to create a safe, equitable workplace for everyone, and that’s why we’re committed to listening, learning and working together toward greater inclusivity. This work is important, and we proudly stand with our LGBTQ+ friends and coworkers in defending their rights and celebrating the gifts and perspectives they bring to the workplace every day.
President and CEO
Reflections on Racism: A Letter to Employees
May 31, 2020
Grand Rapids was one of many U.S. cities in the news this weekend because of violent protests triggered by the brutal arrest and death of George Floyd a week ago in Minneapolis. Protests also took place in other cities around the world. The news seems focused today on whether violent civil disobedience is necessary to drive social change, and of course this is an argument that goes back to the American Revolution more than 200 years ago. Today it extends to places like Hong Kong and the “yellow vests” in France, and while it’s tempting to say that’s different, it really just depends on how you feel about the cause. I imagine we will still be debating civil disobedience 100 years from now, and that’s not the purpose of this post.
This post is about racism. The sickening video of a white police officer with his knee on the neck of an unarmed black man, is just the latest of a series of images we’ve seen here in the U.S. in the last few weeks that remind us that racism is still with us. Racism is what fuels the violent protests and sadly it is also still used by political parties to gain power – it is still that strong here in 2020.
It’s tempting to say we’ve made no progress – but that’s just not true. We’ve made extraordinary progress because of the efforts of Martin Luther King and many others after him who advocated for peaceful approaches. But we have not made enough progress and so 60 years later we still have new wounds on top of old scars.
Racism affects all of us. I grew up in a tough neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. Black people were afraid, but white people were also afraid. That fear led to cruel stereotypes, hatred and systemic segregation. As a young child, although I could not understand it, I could feel the fear and anger all around me, and I can still remember that. Until I was a teenager, I never actually met a black person, even though the dividing line between the neighborhoods was just a mile from my house. Racism is divisive and as Abraham Lincoln stated more than 160 years ago (and with Biblical roots), a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Many of us are trying to do our part to end racism, to heal racism, and I encourage you all to find the right way to engage. Maybe the right way for you is to join a peaceful protest, or maybe it’s having an uncomfortable conversation with friends or family (as I did this weekend). Maybe it’s speaking up when you see something that is not right. Racism affects all of us and will only be solved when all of us engage.
At Steelcase we promote diversity, equity and inclusion and, in fact, DEI is one of the Global Talent strategic priorities for the next few years. There is no place for racism here. And yet, racism happens here at Steelcase and many of our coworkers deal with racism outside of Steelcase. We can only be better if we all engage as we work together. So, of course, speak up if you see something that’s not right. But it’s just as important to talk about race and racism even when there are no apparent issues. Have the courage to start an uncomfortable conversation. Racism affects all of us and it will take all of us to solve it.
President and CEO
We’re proud to be a company that believes in doing the right thing and doing things right. For over a century, we’ve used our core values to guide corporate decision making and shape our culture — and at Steelcase, that starts by treating people with dignity and respect. We believe every individual brings unique value to the office and that unlocking the contributions of our people amplifies their impact and empowers them to reach their full potential.
Our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion is both part of a comprehensive strategy and a natural extension of who we are. We believe all have a part to play in creating a truly inclusive environment that affirms and encourages others to bring their whole selves to work.
Our Current Areas of Focus
- Improve Diverse Hiring by moving toward an evidence-based selection model and mobilizing the necessary people, resources and tools for success, we’re making better hiring decisions and reducing reliance on the personal impressions that often reflect unconscious bias.
- Build a Robust Talent Pipeline by combining diversity outreach efforts, increasing our community partnerships and designing key pre-career experiences for students, we’re creating new, more inclusive pathways to employment at Steelcase.
- Enable a Culture of Inclusion by leveraging nine different Business Inclusion Groups that empower people to talk about, promote awareness of and advance DEI across all teams and geographies at Steelcase, we’re creating a welcoming community for all people.
Stories of Impact
Business Inclusion Groups
Business Inclusion Groups
Steelcase is full of passionate people who want to make a difference in their workplace and in their world. Our nine business inclusion groups have global chapters that help build an inclusive culture by promoting discussion and awareness, affirming colleagues from diverse backgrounds and highlighting employee voices and stories across the company. Here is a sampling of the groups we support:
GEN (Gender Equity Network): welcomes women into their careers at Steelcase and supports their professional development
PRIDE: celebrates and supports our LGBTQ diversity and creates awareness through storytelling, conversations and activities.
WORKING PARENTS: provides learning opportunities around relevant topics and giving working parents a meaningful place to connect.
YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: provides a fun environment with events geared toward relationship building, personal growth and professional development.
Steelcase is committed to driving equal access to opportunities by selecting the right candidates for our open positions. To achieve this, we’ve analyzed and grouped jobs by their most important competencies and have determined which assessment tools will best measure and predict a candidate’s ability to perform. By leveraging tools and data rather than relying on “instinct,” we’re minimizing barriers and increasing evidence-based hiring across the enterprise.
Key to the learning experiences Steelcase provides is our civility training. Research shows diverse teams outperform homogenous teams once they develop highly-effective collaboration skills — yet this same diversity also exposes different norms and unconscious biases that, left unchecked, could pose hurdles for growth. By launching a civility training program in Steelcase locations around the world, we’re helping people explore differing norms around what is appropriate or productive so that together, we can do more to empower our people, enable innovation and reduce accidental incivility.
Doing the right thing
Last year we earned a perfect score of 100 points on the Corporate Equality Index, issued by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and reflecting our policies and practices around LGBTQ. We’ve received the top score in five of the past six years, despite the scoring becoming increasingly more difficult.
Leading with purpose
We are human-centered company committed to fostering diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect. Steelcase CEO, Jim Keane, is a signatory of the Business Round table’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, which highlights, "... investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world.”