"Diversity and inclusion aren’t static; your company should evolve with the changing landscape," she says.

Raul Medina, National Relationship Development Manager

September 7, 2023

5 Min Read
Granite's DE&I
Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

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Granite’s Sana Sheikh

As chief people officer, Sana Sheikh plays a pivotal role in driving Granite’s strategic vision, including the evolution of Granite’s DE&I initiatives. We interviewed Sheikh about the importance of DE&I policy, as well as dos and don’ts for successful DE&I initiatives.

Q: What is your role in setting and managing Granite’s DE&I initiatives/policies?

A: As the chief people officer at Granite, I am actively involved in setting and managing DE&I initiatives and policies. My role includes working closely with senior leadership and various departments to develop, communicate and implement effective DE&I strategies. This also involves regular monitoring, reporting and adjustments to ensure our initiatives have the desired impact.

Q: Some companies put ownership of DE&I with HR while others say it’s a C-suite imperative. Where do you stand? Where does Granite stand?

A: Diversity efforts do not just come from one source or channel. It’s a collective effort between leadership, HR and all our employees. HR and the C-suite work in tandem to align DE&I efforts with Granite’s overall goals. HR drives the implementation of DE&I initiatives, while the C-suite ensures these efforts are adequately supported and effective. Employee engagement is just as important, and our employees go above and beyond by involving themselves in our Granite-sponsored employee resource groups (ERGs), including CANDID, WECAN and RockOUT, as well as through our various charitable efforts and volunteer events. Each member of the Granite teams plays a part in a larger strategy towards genuine DE&I strategy and inclusion.

Q: Why is DE&I policy important for companies?

A: DE&I policies are not just about the short-term but the long-term sustainability of a company. We live in a rapidly changing business landscape, operating in increasingly diverse markets. Having a workforce that mirrors said diversity in the business can enhance our ability to understand and connect with our customers. More than that, a diverse workforce brings people from different backgrounds, cultures and perspectives together. Unique perspectives and diversity of thought stimulate innovation and creativity. This helps foster a richer, more inclusive environment.

Q: What is the most impactful part of a company’s DE&I policy?

A: Employees are more engaged and motivated when they feel seen and heard, that their contributions are valued and that there is equal opportunity for growth. As leaders, it is our responsibility to be more effective and empathic, attuned to the needs and concerns of both our diverse workforce and customer base. Not only that, but companies play a key role in helping shape societal norms and values. By championing our DE&I policies, Granite can help address systemic inequalities and foster an inclusive culture, all while contributing to a more inclusive, equitable society.

Q: What advice do you have for companies developing and implementing more formalized DE&I policies?

A: First and foremost, it all starts from the top. When leadership actively promotes and participates in DE&I initiatives, it sends a clear message to both our employees and customers that these policies are a priority. Leadership sets the tone. Second, be sure to gather a diverse group of employees whose insights and experiences can help shape the development of DE&I policies and inform your process. Third, you must remember internal and external factors – both employee resource groups and community engagement are essential. And finally, keep accountability and transparency at the top of your list of goals in creating and upholding DE&I policy.

Q: What are the biggest mistakes companies make in implementing DE&I policies?

A: DE&I is more than just a box-ticking exercise or a one-time announcement. It’s an ongoing effort. Diversity and inclusion aren’t static; your company should evolve with the changing landscape. Policies should be regularly assessed, their effectiveness measured and employees should be able to constantly share their experiences, suggestions and concerns relating to DE&I. Providing regular DE&I training, using various communication channels and allocating resources toward DE&I initiatives are just some of the ways a company can commit to a more equitable workplace culture.

Q: How should training be incorporated into a company’s DE&I policy?

A: While training is just one aspect of an effective and comprehensive approach to DE&I initiatives, it is crucial. Educating and promoting understanding builds the foundation for meaningful change. It shouldn’t be a one-time event but a long-term commitment that evolves to reflect current best practices – for all employees, entry-level to C-level. Developing a comprehensive and interactive curriculum that encourages participation and engagement is essential. Group discussions pave the way for interpersonal stories and experiences that can help connect employees through similarities and differences. Real-life scenarios make the training more engaging and relatable. But through training comes accountability, a way to measure the impact of DE&I progress and goals.

Q: What is Granite’s commitment to DE&I policy now and in the future?

A: The world is forever changing and constantly evolving, and Granite must adapt and evolve alongside it. Every member of the Granite family is, first and foremost, their own individual, with their own perspective, past, culture and beliefs. To succeed, we must ensure we are doing right by them by committing to an equitable workplace. Granite is deeply committed to ongoing DE&I efforts. We regularly assess our DE&I initiatives and adjust as needed. We are invested in creating a culture that fosters diversity, equity and inclusion today and in the future.

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Rau Medina

Raul Medina is a national relationship development manager at Granite Telecommunications. He also serves as chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for the company’s LGBTQA+ employees and co-chair of the Granite Corporate Advancement Networking Diversity Inclusion and Development (CANDID) organization. The goal of both groups is for all Granite teammates to feel welcome and enjoy their work environment. For more information, visit Granite at www.granitenet.com.

 

About the Author(s)

Raul Medina

National Relationship Development Manager, Granite Telecommunications

Raul Medina serves as chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for the company's LGBTQA+ employees and co-chair of the Granite Corporate Advancement Networking Diversity Inclusion and Development (CANDID) organization. The goal of both groups is for all Granite teammates to feel welcome and enjoy their work environment.

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