Clovity DEI Podcast Youtube Alisha Siddhartha Bhawna Vats

From Personal Resilience to Collective Action: A Deep Dive Into DEI

In today’s corporate world, emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become more than a compliance requirement; it is a strategic imperative that enriches the workplace culture and enhances business outcomes. At Clovity, DEI is more than just a policy; it’s woven into the very fabric of our company culture.

In the latest installment of our interactive series, ‘Conversations for Change,’ hosted by Alisha Siddhartha, Sr. Marketing Manager for Clovity, we explored the multifaceted world of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) with one of our own torchbearers, Bhawna Vats, Sr. Director – DEI Engagement & Partnerships. Our conversation untangled the personal anecdotes and professional strides towards achieving a more inclusive society and work environment. Here’s an insight into the dynamic exchange that unfolded.

Alisha: Welcome to ‘Conversations for Change,’ our new interactive session on DEI, streaming straight from our company’s page. We are excited and proud to be a minority-owned business in the U.S., driving positive change in the economy. Today, we delve into the personal and professional side of DEI with Bhawna Vats, our Sr. Director – DEI Engagement & Partnerships. Let’s start by understanding your journey and how it has fueled your passion for DEI. Hi Bhawna, how have you been?

Bhawna: Hi, Alisha. Thanks for having me to discuss my personal and professional journey and how I see the whole DEI revolution.

Alisha: Bhawna, could you share your earliest experience with diversity and how it kind of shaped your views around it?

Bhawna: Sure. Absolutely. Growing up in a diverse community in India, it taught me early on about the richness of different cultures they bring to our lives. It was the challenges and things in our everyday lives, faced by myself and my friends from different backgrounds and ethnicities, that opened my eyes to the qualities in our society. We see it every day around us without even realizing it sometimes, but that kind of shaped my commitment to equality, diversity, inclusion, and equal footing for all.

Alisha: Great. And is there a pivotal moment in your personal life that made you actively pursue DEI in your career?

Bhawna: Yes, absolutely. I think the whole process of my really seeing that spark in me was during my college years. So I had gone from my home city to the capital of India, which is Delhi. And that is where you have people coming from all parts of the country. And that is where I witnessed a close friend face blatant discrimination due to her background, because she came from a small village. And so she wasn’t really included in most of the good stuff, all the societies where all the activities happen. That is where I see that the biggest part of it was that it was very subtle. So, you know, a word here and there, things that are really unspoken, but by the behavior, they show you that you’re not a part of something, you’re not being included in a certain society or college activities. So, it had nothing to do with her behavior, her intelligence or skills. It came purely based off her background and because of the way she looked, which kind of took an emotional toll on her. And that kind of reignited my resolve to make environments around and my workplaces more inclusive and where everyone really feels valued, irrespective of their background.

Alisha: Great. And I agree with you, Bhawna, that when you mentioned that usually the signs are really subtle and, when I graduated and I was in college, we experienced a lot of things in our day to day lives and now is when I understand that people behave in a certain manner because they are not aware and they’re yet to see a lot of things, they’re yet to get enlightened about the diverse world. When you mentioned that this kind of ignited your passion towards DEI, I think it just needs a lot of awareness around it, which I’m glad that today in the age of technology, we have all of these platforms where we can learn and distribute this knowledge about inclusivity and different backgrounds.

Can you share an instance where your advocacy for DEI made a tangible difference?

Bhawna: Certainly, I think it was during one of the roles, one of my corporate roles, that one of the initiatives, I led, focused on the mentorship programs for underrepresented minorities in our organization. Seeing those individuals really thrive and move into leadership roles, was a profound moment.

How it showcases the impact of equitable support and opportunities, that if an individual gets those, how they can really shine on whatever they do. And that was really valuable to me.

Alisha: I agree. And with all of this, Bhawna, I’m sure that there’s a lot of resistance or flak that sometimes people receive towards initiatives and DEI initiatives included. So can you tell me how you handle such instances or resistance towards your initiatives?

Bhawna: Yes, absolutely. My approach is rooted in empathy and education because I feel to create any big impact or to create any sort of bigger change, you really need to go deep down in the roots and understand where people are coming from, pretty much their psychology and towards that particular subject.

So I try to understand the perspectives of skeptics and introduce them to the data and the personal stories that highlight the benefits of DEI because I think everything that is backed by data and real instances which have led to success really inspire people to create change.

It’s about creating a dialogue and showcasing the value of DEI that adds value to our company and society at large. If you were to say that it starts in your personal lives, that is really the crux of it, because you cannot say that you will practice DEI at the workplace but not in your personal journey, in your personal life.

So I feel it starts with telling your children and your friends to look beyond those smaller things, beyond the color of the skin, the language, food habits, all of that. And you have to move beyond those boundaries, I would say.

And I’m so glad that both my children have friends from all ethnicities, and we have never forced them to be with a certain set of people. They’re free to experience. They’re free to really understand the cultures of different ethnicities and still not be judgmental about it is how I see that people can really start DEI in the environments they live in, and then it moves on to the workplace.

And this is basically going to the same fact that there’s a social media problem, right. Where we see something we don’t agree with and we start to criticize on and on and start commenting. That is where I think, half the problems in the world are.

What you really need to do is understand the cultures, really rejoice the differences, for what they bring to the table. And not being judgmental about it, but really making it a part of you and going ahead with it, and still you can still have an identity, but rejoicing the differences in others is how I see it.

And so, I feel that when it becomes a personal habit is when a hundred or thousand people in your company, you know, start with that personal change, it becomes a company culture. When so many people in the country change, it becomes a country culture.

And when all of the individuals on mother earth really change in that direction, is when things change, is when the world changes. So it all definitely just starts with you first.

Alisha: Absolutely. One step at a time. I love the fact that you said your children have friends from all ethnicities. And it’s safe to say that because you are the advocate for DEI at both your workplace at Clovity and in your personal life, they learn a lot from you. It’s great to hear that you are making these changes, and we hope that we continue to do so. Moving on, do you have any advice to individuals who are looking to start their journey in DEI advocacy?

Bhawna: Yes, so, first off, I would like to say that no amount of company DEI policies or EEO offices can really change the culture if people at the core are not willing to change. So it all starts there, with that particular thing where, in my humble opinion, I have always believed that perspectives change narratives.

It can’t be just a fancy buzzword and nothing changes on the ground. You have to go to the people and tell them that you need to be self-educated. Educated. You need to start with self-reflection, and understand the biases you’re coming from.

Why do you carry those biases? You need to actively seek out resources and communities that challenge and broaden your perspectives. You need to come out of that hole and really see the big picture. That’s the only way you can change your perspectives and then your narrative.

So those small actionable steps, whether in your personal circles or workplaces, advocate for a change by starting with self-reflection. Then you go from there and discuss with other people what can be done about it.

Alisha: Wonderful. Now that we’ve discussed your personal side of things, can we now quickly move on to talk about the kind of steps Clovity is taking for advocating DEI in our workplace?

Bhawna: Absolutely. As a woman and a minority, with my heritage being from Asia Pacific, I come from India. Our owner at Clovity is also an Asia Pacific individual. We all take DEI very seriously and have a longstanding commitment at Clovity towards making it an absolute priority. We make efforts towards diversity more embedded in our DNA, from employment to management, to sourcing and recruiting. Because recruiting is a big part of our business, our internal program and managers set out expectations with the recruiting team to use diversity in finding talent and resources and bringing people on board with more diversity because that’s how companies grow, and it is backed by data.

These recruitment efforts have yielded a great jump in diverse candidates being onboarded, being hired. In the past three years, Clovity has focused on diversity in mainly two areas: increasing the size of our contractor candidate pool and nurturing other diversity organizations which are our subcontractors through initiatives. One of them I would like to talk about is our Vendor CCC program: Connect, Collaborate, and Cultivate. This program works with subcontractors to identify, qualify, and develop diverse suppliers, supporting our end client goal while providing a wider breadth of services and skill sets.

Alisha: That’s great to hear, Bhawna. Your insights today have educated and inspired us, especially me. They push us to reflect on our roles in creating an inclusive environment, both personally and in our workplaces. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and steps towards achieving a more equitable society. To our audience, we hope this session leaves you motivated to engage in DEI in your own unique ways. As a minority-owned business committed to change, Clovity looks forward to furthering these conversations. So please stay tuned for our next session with Bhawna Vats. Thank you for joining us for Conversations for Change.

Bhawna: Thank you, Alisha. Thank you, everyone. Here’s to change.

The commitment of Clovity to embed diversity and inclusiveness throughout its corporate structure serves as a leading example for other companies striving to make a difference. By prioritizing these values, Clovity doesn’t just talk about change; they are actively driving it, making a tangible impact on the community and the industry at large.

Stay tuned for our upcoming sessions where we will continue to explore these crucial topics, further demystifying DEI and illustrating how genuine dedication can result in meaningful company and societal transformation.

By Alisha Siddhartha, June 6th, 2024

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields *