From our inception, diversity, equity, and inclusion has been valued here at Exos. You could say DEI is in our DNA.
For years, we have used the phrase “calling all performers” to ensure that we are calling all of our teammates in so that everyone can reach their full potential regardless of their race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age or disability status. Like many organizations, the events of 2020 enabled us to stop, slow down and listen with intent to one another to hear each other’s stories, experiences, and concerns. For us to build a successful strategy to move from awareness to action, we needed to do a few things to ensure that we got it right for the people that matter most: our teammates.
Here are a few of those strategies that we implemented and continue to enhance over time.
Create spaces where teammates can be authentically themselves. The Exos leadership team worked with Courageous Conversation to lead open conversations that encouraged reflection and awareness, where employees were able to offer their thoughts and ideas about how Exos could improve its performance within our DEI efforts. Birthed out of these safe spaces and the openness of our teammates, four employee resource groups were created for identifying members and their allies to share cultures and perspectives through various education series, opportunities for development and a sense of belonging. The employee resource groups (ERG) are Multicultural BIPOC (Black Indigenious People of Color), Womxn of Exos, Love Wins, and The Dependables. We are in the process of launching our fifth group focused on visible and invisible disabilities. We believe that this additional ERG will allow for even more intersectionality between the ERGs and provide additional ways to support our teammates.
- Multicultural BIPOC: strives to promote representation by diverse leadership for lasting change and purposeful inclusion for a more equitable environment. We encourage the voice of the unheard, in the promotion of equality and equity by raising sound judgment, opening lines of communication and creating transparency
- Womxn of Exos: The mission is to connect, mobilize and empower the Womxn of EXOS to optimize their potential and create positive change, while cultivating an environment that encourages their professional and personal endeavors.
- Love Wins: The mission is to promote an inclusive community for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer employees and their allies as well as an employee support system and champion Exos' efforts to promote workplace equity, raise cultural awareness and advocate for career development for the LGBTQ+ community.
- The Dependables: The mission is to upgrade working parents and caregivers (WPCs) by connecting them to resources, specialists, platforms and other WPC members so that they may lead more successful and satisfying personal and professional lives.
Engage in opportunities where we can invest in diverse talent. For the past two summers, we have teamed with several historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to establish an eight-week paid corporate summer internship program. This program enables Exos to prioritize the hiring and growth of a diverse and qualified talent pool and provide growth opportunities for newly graduated students, as well as rising seniors. Throughout the program, our interns work side by side with company leaders on various projects, gain mentorship experiences, create and present a group project given by Exos CEO Sarah Robb O’Hagan, and have the ability to showcase their talents throughout the organization. At the conclusion of the program, the interns gather at our New York City headquarters for an immersion experience where they present their project, network with key leaders and participate in a social impact experience.
To kick off Black History Month this year, our Multicultural BIPOC ERG launched a national BIPOC scholarship program benefiting academically talented, highly motivated high school junior and senior student-athletes of color. The two high school senior winners who were selected embody our Exos values. Their passion, commitment to their community, leadership, involvement in sports and desire to continue their education were evident. Since enrolling in their college programs, we remain connected to them as we look forward to them being Exos teammates in the future.
This fall, we have more than 15 diverse leaders joining the McKinsey & Company Connected Leaders Academy program. The majority of these leaders will participate in the Management Accelerator program that is designed for high-performing early- to mid-career managers aspiring to take the challenging leap into senior leadership. We also have teammates who are participating in the Executive Leadership Program, which is designed for senior executives looking to ascend to C-suite roles, as this program focuses on building the leadership capabilities and network that distinguish successful executives to help them achieve the next critical step in their careers.
Partner with other organizations to support our efforts. We know that this work requires teammates to help us to succeed. This is why this year, we joined CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. With more than 2,200 CEO signatories, CEO Action is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. This coalition allows us to learn from other companies and industries as well as challenges us to live up to the commitments that we have set forth as an organization. Through this partnership, we have launched the Days of Understanding series, which is designed to encourage difficult, candid conversations all year long to further educate and engage with our teammates while supporting inclusivity in the workplace. This series of webinars is focused on respecting and understanding one another to encourage open dialogue that leads to positive change. Our hope is that the Day of Understanding series provides our team members with opportunities to learn soft skills that are hard to come by as they get to know one another in a meaningful way.
Leverage culture curators. This work is an ongoing journey that requires us to have respect for the process and, more importantly, to have respect for one another. We also recognize that the key to long-term change is developing initiatives from the inside, with our own team members, through celebrating cultural moments. Our DEI team and our marketing team have locked arms to highlight moments that matter throughout the year that connect to our teammates. These culture curators have enabled a space where belonging is evident both internally and externally.
This year, our DEI team launched Unconscious Bias training for key leaders in the organization. We know that engaging those at the top is key to ensuring consistency in this work, so we leveraged that audience first. We know that understanding unconscious bias does not solve everything, but it has been a great start to build true accountability and allow leaders to rethink what it means to drive a high-performing and inclusive culture.
At Exos, we believe it is our responsibility to approach our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts with humility, compassion and a focus on continuous improvement, so we understand that this work will be an ongoing journey. However, because at Exos we exist to ignite the hero in all of us, we know that with teamwork we will achieve DEI success together.
Noelle Peart is head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Exos. As such, she is tasked with meeting or exceeding the company’s diversity goals. In addition, she partners with the senior leadership team, employee resource groups, and the people operations team to ensure that they continue to progress in all of their cultural initiatives. Peart brings a wealth of experience with a proven track record of success that is invaluable in achieving Exos’s immediate and long-term diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Prior to joining Exos, Peart held operations, leadership and human resources positions at Best Buy Co. In addition, she helped create several diversity, equity, and inclusion programs including one of Best Buy Co.’s inclusion and diversity steering committees called Inspiring Diversity of Leadership (I.D.O.L.). She also co-championed Best Buy Co.’s Black employee resource group (BERG). Peart has a master’s degree in business administration from Capella University, master of science in athletic training from Shenandoah University, and a bachelor of science in kinesiological science from the University of Maryland, College Park.