From a conversation to a movement: T-ROC voices change lives
Leighann McGinnis, chief people officer with The Revenue Optimization Company (T-ROC), recalls a conversation a few years ago with an employee who was transitioning. The employee asked if the company could create a resource group for others at the company who also were transitioning.
For a company with 6,000 workers nationwide delivering customer sales experiences to Fortune 500 clients, the employee wasn’t alone in their journey. McGinnis had just witnessed “an incredibly brave conversation.
“We had one of the most powerful conversations for me,” she said, “and I believe for him, too.”
McGinnis’s eyes were opened. How can a coworker say “I understand” or get past preconceived notions without open conversations like the one she just had?
“It made perfect sense,” McGinnis said recently. “I realized the real miss was the opportunity for everybody to learn. For an inclusive environment, we don’t want people to stay in their swim lane. We want team members to have access to learn and appreciate what makes each of us different.”
The conversation could have been with anyone — veterans, single moms, people of color or an LGBTQ worker. That one conversation set in motion a movement at T-ROC.
With thousands of employees, the culture of respect and inclusion has evolved naturally. What they didn’t want were programs hatched in the HR Department, or that lacked mindfulness, that simply checked a box or were “communications for the sake of communications.”
“We wanted it to be more organic and authentic,” McGinnis said.
She referred to it as “baby steps,” not a top-down edict, but grassroots from the bottom up. They began with a women-in-the-workforce program, with mentoring sessions — some of which also occurred organically. Conversations grew naturally, many without prompting.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to see happen,” she said. “When you reach success, it’s rarely from the top down. It’s when you see these strategies start to happen.”
At T-ROC, deliberate mindfulness took form. The program’s tagline is “Who you are is who we need.” It also has tenets, including learning, community, inclusivity and mentoring the workforce.
For many of its employees, T-ROC is their first employer. If they find themselves in trouble or in need of help or guidance, even victims of violence or disasters, work becomes a safe place.
“We wanted the opportunity for everybody to become better by learning,” she said.
The company has found that the embrace of inclusion fosters retention. Employees not told to dress differently or cover up their tattoos, or who are free to live their lives, feel valued and comfortable in the workplace.
“When I hear a team member say, ‘I love T-ROC because I can be me,’” McGinnis said, “that’s success to us.”
Born company wide but embraced across leadership, the program reflects T-ROC’s diversity of workforce, leadership and thinking. That’s reflected in its effectiveness. When diversity and inclusion come up in exit interviews of employees moving on, it’s mentioned as a positive. Such comments and internal positive feedback prove beneficial beyond the company itself. Word travels. Clients and others in the business community see, respect and may even model the practices. Reputations are burnished.
For tomorrow, McGinnis envisions a continued, deliberate evolution. They currently use Facebook Workplace as a collaborative platform for company news, training, praise and online events capable of reaching employees across the Americas. Future programs could include panel discussions where diverse coworkers can share their stories in a casual and safe environment.
There’s always more to be done, she admitted. A DE&I town hall is planned for this June, where T-ROC founder Brett Beveridge will discuss the company’s ongoing efforts.
Ultimately, the goal is to share the company’s vision and nurture the efforts by the team, while moving employee learning forward.
“It matters so much, especially in today’s world,” McGinnis said. “There’s certainly a return. This isn’t just about being caring individuals. This is about being good citizens. It makes the difference between an OK and a great company.”
To learn more, visit TROCglobal.com.