Essilor of America Brings Inclusion and Diversity to Life
By Essilor News
Inclusion and diversity (I&D) are terms commonly heard in many workplaces, but at Essilor of America (EOA), they’re not just words, they’re concepts that are embraced and enacted upon every day. As LaShanda Reed-Larry, Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Affirmative Action Compliance, explains, “Diversity is the value we place on differences and strengths that enrich our human experience. Inclusion focuses on creating belonging and connectedness among employees. When we feel a sense of belonging, we are more willing to share diverse points of view and contribute our maximum potential, which ultimately helps us fulfill our mission of improving lives by improving sight.”
EOA’s I&D function was formalized just three years ago and is growing quickly. “We are still in the early stages of our journey, yet we are moving at an accelerated pace to be competitive in the market,” Reed-Larry says. EOA’s efforts impressed the Texas Diversity Council, which named the company a winner of the prestigious DiversityFirst™ Leadership Award. This award is presented to businesses that execute an innovative program or activity that has a visible, tangible, or measurable impact on the perception of, attitude toward, and respect for a truly inclusive environment.
Dennis Kennedy, founder, National Diversity Council and Texas Diversity Council, says, “Essilor of America has as a core value its commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as engagement throughout the organization and in the communities in which their employees work and live. A perfect example of Essilor’s community involvement is World Sight Day. In October, Essilor and Essilor Vision Foundation employees visited George H. W. Bush Elementary School and Jerry R. Junkins Elementary School to deliver eyeglasses to students who participated in this year’s Kids’ Vision Fest.”
Other key elements of EOA’s award-winning I&D program include:
- Leadership commitment: Getting leadership buy-in has been a critical part of putting I&D on the agenda. A Diversity Steering Committee made up of 10 directors and vice presidents helps ensure I&D are brought to life at EOA.
- Adding inclusion to the mix: Emphasizing the importance of branding and language, the steering committee changed all of its references from “diversity” to “inclusion and diversity,” marking a key accomplishment. “You can have a diverse organization and not be inclusive,” Reed-Larry explains. “Inclusion means employees feel connected and that their contributions are valued.”
- Expanding efforts companywide: Essilor’s efforts also include business resource groups, which establish and foster a more inclusive and equitable environment. Many companies in the early stages of I&D either don’t have business resource groups or have very small ones. EOA has a women’s group, a multicultural group and a veteran’s group, with more to come.
“We believe I&D work is a shared responsibility and that every employee has a role to play,” Reed-Larry says. “Our goal is to leverage the organization’s differences to help strengthen our I&D function and our commitment to our mission.”