Developing and implementing an effective diversity, equity and inclusion program—and integrating these core concepts into the DNA of an organization—can be a monumental challenge. Across the globe, organizations in every sector are working hard to meet that challenge. Including ours.
From the beginning, CRA has strived to foster a culture where different ideas and perspectives are both welcomed and encouraged. That diversity of thought is a big part of what made CRA the globally recognized firm that it is today.
At the same time, we understand that true diversity isn’t just about embracing an array of theories or approaches. It’s also about creating more opportunities for historically marginalized peoples and communities, making sure that our organization reflects the communities in which we work and live (and the clients we serve), and finding ways to honor all of our colleagues—no matter their race, gender, background or beliefs.
Over the past year, we’ve redoubled our efforts to make DE&I an even stronger cornerstone of our business and culture—beginning with the hiring of our first Chief Inclusion and Engagement Officer Raquel Tamez, in June of 2021.
Below are just some of the programs and initiatives we’ve undertaken.
However, as with every great venture, we understand that the DE&I journey is one that will never be truly complete—and one that we intend to embrace for as long as CRA exists.
Last June, as part of CRA’s long-term commitment to DE&I, CEO Paul Maleh signed the CEO Action Pledge, committing our firm to a set of specific, tangible actions:
- Fostering an environment where people feel comfortable talking about DE&I (and what it means for our firm).
- Implementing conscious bias education.
- Sharing best practices, both inside and outside the organization.
- Working with our board of directors to determine the long-term aims of our DE&I policies.
Also in June 2021, in honor of Pride Month, we created our first Pride-themed corporate logo, which we showcased on our website and across our various social media channels (we also invited team members to use the logo as part of their signature blocks).
Additionally, we created a month-long social media campaign to highlight our LGBTQI+ team members, featuring inspiring and insightful quotes. The campaign took place again in June 2022 for Pride Month, with quotes and a spotlight on our LGBTQI+ employee resource group, OutLoud@CRA, alongside its members, allies and leadership.
As summer kicked into high gear, we rebranded two of our employee resources groups: OutLoud@CRA (our ERG dedicated to CRA’s LGBTQI+ community) and Women@CRA (dedicated to our female employees). In September, we hosted a webinar featuring Robert Rodriguez, one of the nation’s leading experts on ERG strategies, who discussed current trends and best practices and helped our team members better understand the positive impacts these groups can have.
We also launched a new initiative giving team members the option of adding their gender pronouns and the proper pronunciation of their names to their employee bios.
In addition, we issued our annual Employee Experience Survey—with several questions focused on the idea of “belonging.” The insights gleaned from this survey are key to helping us create more dynamic DE&I programming, offering better benefits packages to team members, developing wellness initiatives and fostering greater inclusion and equity throughout the firm.
Fall is always a busy time here at CRA, and last year was no exception—particularly when it came to our DE&I initiatives.
As part of a broader push to hire, develop, retain and promote more diverse talent, we took a deep dive into enhancing our recruiting strategies and interview processes. The goal was twofold:
- Increase the diversity of our applicant pool.
- Identify and address areas susceptible to unconscious biases along the talent lifecycle.
While the desired outcomes of our efforts will take time, we are encouraged by the promising results we are seeing.
In October, we created an Employee Engagement and Recruitment Campaign featuring short testimonials from a diverse and global group of CRA team members. These testimonials were shared across our social media channels with the goal of informing and attracting potential candidates.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we closed out the fall with an event featuring Raquel Tamez, along with Claudia Romo Edelman, founder of We Are All Human and Hispanic Star. During the hour-long presentation, Claudia shared the critical role of Hispanics in today’s economy and what companies like CRA can do to tap into this incredible wellspring of talent.
To round out the year, CRA was recognized by NextGen as one of the top 100 companies empowering and supporting the next generation of talent. It was a galvanizing testament to the hard work our firm has put in—and a promising sign of things to come.
At the same time, we understand that the efforts for which we were recognized represent just a small step in a long journey—one we believe will bring us ever closer to meeting our ambitious DE&I goals.
The Long Road Ahead
To say we hit 2022 running would be an understatement. Over the past six months we’ve launched new initiatives, from creating helpful resources for our colleagues to hosting in-person events featuring some of the most forward-thinking minds in DE&I.
More specifically, we’ve:
- redefined CRA’s mission, vision and values;
- developed and launched a new environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework;
- earned a spot as a participating partner in the American Economic Association’s Summer Scholars program, in collaboration with Howard University, a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in Washington, D.C.;
- hosted an event in honor of Black History Month featuring the Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at an internationally renowned law firm;
- run a month-long social media campaign for International Women’s Day with quotes from team members on how to #breakthebias for good;
- put on a key leadership development workshop for members of our Women@CRA ERG;
- hosted speakers for both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month (both in May).
One year after launching our first Pride Month campaign, we highlighted a new group of LGBTQI+ team members and their allies, sharing quotes from more than a dozen participants on social media. We also hosted a screening of “The Freedom to Marry,” which highlights the decades-long struggle for marriage equality in the U.S.
As we enter Q3, we’ll be continuing to develop our series of regular DE&I training sessions. The goal of these sessions is to educate our team members on the things all of us can do—no matter our role, practice or department—to make our firm as diverse, equitable and inclusive as possible.
We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past year. Now it’s about harnessing that momentum to create real, lasting change—change that empowers every single one of our team members to achieve their full potential at CRA.