Meet Serilda Summers-McGee
Meet Serilda Summers-McGee
“My entire life, I have challenged the status quo. From breaking the cycle of poverty to leaving the warmth of my hometown and everything familiar to me, every significant phase of my life, I’ve chosen to challenge what was expected.”
The same was true for Serilda Summers-McGee when she started her company Workplace Change (WPC). Founded in 2016, WPC is a full-service Human Resources Firm that creates custom HR solutions and strategies focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the first three years, Serilda tested new services, trained contractors on the WPC approach to HR/DEI integration, and learned how to scale these efforts – all while working intense, full-time jobs while and raising two small children with her husband. It was a stressful time for her, but it paid off.
Fast forward to today, Serilda and her team work with leaders, managers, and employees who want something different in their workplaces, but don’t know how to make it happen. WPC helps employers reimagine what their workplace culture feels like, explore and recast who their policies and practices are expected to support, and establish new expectations for leaders, managers, and staff around behaviors that foster a sense of inclusion and equity.
Berg & Associates recently spoke with Serilda Summers-McGee about what it takes to integrate DEI in the workplace:
What’s something that any business can do to build a more inclusive workplace?
SSM: If a company is genuinely trying to establish a more inclusive workplace, they should first ask their workforce what they need to feel included. Imagine if your life partner wanted to make you (whoever is reading this) feel safe, so they build a 12-foot brick wall around your home to ensure you felt safe. Your partner had it installed while you were away for the day. You never knew this was going to happen. You never discussed what would make you feel safe. You never wanted a brick fence. How would you feel?
The way you would feel if you discovered your partner placed a brick wall around your, perhaps, neighborhood home to make you feel safe without discussing it with you is the way many employees feel about their employer’s inclusion efforts. You cannot exclude staff from the process of determining how to make a company/organization more inclusive. Step one is to ask the people what they need.
How can businesses help stem the tide of women leaving the workforce?
SSM: The ‘she-session’ is serious business. One way organizations can slow down the need for women to leave the workforce is to make jobs more flexible. Allow women (and others who need the flexibility) to work halftime or job share AND allow them to work flexible hours. Most of the women leaving the workforce have school-age children at home who need help with school, meals, and everything else that comes with it. But many could work virtually during the evening hours and on the weekends.
Many leaders still need to evolve their thinking about what meaningful contributions look like in our new virtual reality. If leaders pre-define success, check-in regularly with staff, and focus on outcomes versus 8-5 availability, they would foster a more inclusive work environment and would aid in slowing the ‘she-session.’
What is one of your leadership takeaways from 2020?
SSM: Always be flexible. Flexibility is a requirement for entrepreneurs, but for many larger companies, flexibility wasn’t a requirement for its managers and leaders. And those who were rigid in their expectations and sluggish in their responses to crisis really paid the price. All leaders should work on being flexible.
Learn more about Workplace Change at www.workplacechanges.com