How we foster Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Growens is constantly evolving in size, complexity, and international footprint. Its people today come from all over the world and make up an incredible mix of backgrounds, ages, genders, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, and skills.
For the Group to keep up with this increasing diversity, we need to have a clear sense of it and make sure, intentionally, that we are structured to support and empower all the people who work with us.
How? Through a systemic and structured approach to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) challenges, in order to make a concrete impact on the people who work or will work with us, the communities where we are rooted, and the larger cultural and social fabric around us.
Ultimately, this approach also brings an essential benefit to the business in terms of talent density, employee commitment, and ability to innovate.
But what are we up to, concretely? It all starts with the Grow @ Growens project.
What is Grow @ Growens?
Part committee and part community, Grow is a working group with open, voluntary, and non-hierarchical membership. It includes between 8 and 12 people of different nationalities, origins, backgrounds, ages, and job roles, who organize and coordinate awareness, engagement, and training activities on DEI issues aimed at the entire company population.
The team today consists of twelve members bringing their unique stories, backgrounds, and perspectives to the working group:
- Marco Biondi, a UX Designer at Beefree, is deeply committed to addressing the challenges and topics relevant to the LGBTQIA+ community, a cause close to their heart as a member of the community themselves. They are dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment and aim to create a space where individuals can freely express themselves. Collaborating with Rachael Eidsmoe, Marco co-developed a workshop utilizing the Genderbread Person worksheet. This initiative is designed to spark conversations and increase awareness about gender and sexuality in the workplace.
- Rachael Eidsmoe, Community Specialist at Beefree, is passionate about making the workplace a place where all people feel safe and supported. She brings her love of bringing people together with a deep passion for equity into all aspects of her work. One of her favorite things this group has brought about is the workshop about gender and sexuality, using the Genderbread Person as a teaching tool, with Marco Biondi.
- Enrica Lipari, People & Culture Director at Growens, is passionate about HR and agile, combined for a unique mission toward growth. She is a founding member of the Grow committee, and sponsor of a diverse, cross-functional and self-organized team leading the DE&I mission within the Company, amplifying our culture nurturing .
- Kyle Hendren, a Senior Customer Success Specialist at Beefree, brings his passion for inclusivity and equity to the forefront by joining the Grow Committee. With a genuine commitment to fostering diversity in the software space, Kyle focuses on driving initiatives that promote inclusivity and equal opportunities.
- Samantha Hoffmann is a Marketing Project Manager at Beefree who combines her passion for communication with a drive for understanding and equity. From gender, to sexual orientation, race, income, age and ability, empathy and experience guide her desire to make the Group as inclusive as possible.
- Giuditta Mattei, Grants Specialist at Growens, brings her expertise in project management and a strong commitment to equity and inclusion within the Grow committee, as she actively advocates for creating an environment that values diversity in all its forms and where every individual’s unique perspective is respected and valued.
- Logan Elmore, a Customer Experience Specialist at Beefree, dedicates himself to recognizing and supporting his colleagues and acquaintances from diverse backgrounds. His commitment to mental health is intertwined with his passion for music, volunteering with groups like Heartsupport, To Write Love on Her Arms, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Inspired by Silent Planet’s mantra, “Until our paths converge, give me eyes to see the visible unseen,” Logan is driven to amplify the voices of the unheard in his community.
- Maria Giulia Ganassini is a communication expert with a special interest in inclusive language & messaging. She is a founding member of the Grow committee, and spearheaded the partnership with Cremona Pride, making it her mission that the Group’s top management be trained, educated and onboarded in relation to DEI topics.
- Max D’Ambrosio, an Italian native living in the US since the early nineties, is the Head of Customer Experience at Beefree. He is a caring community champion who believes in the power of education, health, and the arts to bring people together. Over the years, has worked with organizations that support children’s educational success in underserved communities, provide art and sports coaching to children impacted by chronic diseases, and promote social and cultural diversity through world music. Committed to empowering, uplifting, and fostering unity and inclusivity.
- Camilla Ragazzi is a legal expert, and her interest extends beyond the visible aspects, encompassing “invisible diversities” like age and background. Within the Grow team, she collaborates with a diverse group to champion awareness and engagement in D&I issues. She firmly believes that the synergy of substance and form is crucial for the success of any social and working group.
- Valentina Chinnici, AI Product Manager at Beefree, combines her humanities background with technology expertise on the DEI committee. She’s dedicated to creating inclusive, equitable environments at Beefree, focusing on gender and LGBTQIA+ equity and inclusion, and is committed to driving meaningful diversity initiatives.
- Clelia Gallareto, People Operations Manager at Growens, has developed her career in human resources. Always focused on people, their inclusion, and respect for all differences, she finds within the DEI committee the opportunity to contribute to valuable actions within the company.
How did it all start?
It all started with a watercooler conversation – Isn’t it time for Growens to have a women’s community, we thought? Hell yes! Then we paused and thought it over. Why stop at women? How do we know that there aren’t other people, groups, or communities equally needing empowerment or recognition? We realized that our first attempt at improving our stance was based on bias.
The fact is that today, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are buzzwords that can mean a lot of things. Before setting any goals or devising any action plans, we founded a committee with the explicit aim of concretely increasing awareness, dialogue, and transparency on the issues of equality, diversity, inclusion, and access to opportunities, thus enabling the organization to ensure equal growth and representation for every person.
Inclusion & diversity initiatives at Growens
Established in the Summer of 2022, the Grow @ Growens committee started by partnering with the Canadian organization CultureAlly, to be trained on the fundamentals of DEI and have a solid foundation on which to build subsequent initiatives.
In the first year of activity, we activated initiatives following different paths:
- Internal analysis & data collection
- Education & awareness initiatives
- Creation of internal communities, networks, and alliances
- Drafting of advanced DEI policies
Internal analysis & data collection
Through a survey, we asked everyone at Growens to assess their perception of being included, treated fairly, and recognized as physical and working persons in the workplace, according to criteria such as gender, age, professional skills, work level, pay, and opportunities for advancement.
We aimed to understand:
- Where do we stand as a Group? Do our people feel included and treated fairly? Is there enough recognition of diversity? Are there any critical areas that need special attention?
- What do our people have at heart? All issues are equally important, yet we need to decide where to start. What group or minority can we support first? Is there any group of people that feels significantly underrepresented? Is there any cause or project that our people feel strongly about?
We then analyzed the results by checking them against actual internal data gathered for the occasion, identifying according to each criterion (gender, age, background, etc.) any pay gaps, opportunities for advancement and promotion, distribution across the career ladder, and more.
The sum of perception and hard data provided a comprehensive picture of the current state of affairs.
Education & awareness initiatives
- Training on DEI topics for the Grow @ Growens committee, provided by certified CultureAlly trainers.
- Adoption of the CultureAlly e-learning platform by all Group employees, to benefit from educational content aimed at showing how to practically incorporate DEI principles into work practices.
- Specific training for the Top Management, provided by Cremona Pride with the support of Arcigay (the main Italian LGBTI not-for-profit organization, the largest in number of volunteers and activists throughout Italy), because real change starts from the head of an organization. Eight hours of full immersion in the issues of gender identity and inclusion in the workplace to set a stepping stone for more advanced, equitable, and structured policies and practices.
- Genderbread Person workshops, organized by a group of employees and progressively distributed to the teams that request to participate. It aims to support the ability to engage in meaningful conversations about gender and sexuality, starting from a greater awareness of the differences between gender identity and expression, sexual and romantic orientation, and sex assigned at birth.
Internal communities, networks, and alliances
- Creation of the internal LGBTQIA+ Community, intended as a safe space for individuals and allies to share their experiences and discuss topics relevant to the queer world.
- Partnership with the Cremona Pride Committee, to support activities for the protection of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in Growens’ territory of origin (here is the official press release).
- Mentorship Program, to guide and support the younger population in the acquisition of a balanced set of skills in order to promote their growth.
Advanced DEI policies
- Guidelines for the prevention of harassment at work, in order to clarify and detail unacceptable behaviors in the workplace and how to report them.
- Policy that regulates the company’s behavior (administrative, cultural, operational, etc.) in the case of employees who undertake a gender transition journey or do not identify with male/female binarism.
There is more to come
The work, of course, continues. The projects currently underway include a program of internal events open to the entire company population and dedicated to a variety of topics, from inclusive language to neurodiversity, from Ball Culture to mental health.
The objective is to work incrementally on all aspects relevant to the Growens people, thus gradually improving the perception and experience of those who work with us and collectively increasing our inclusivity competence.