26/04/2022 • 7 min read

Equity at Work: Access and Opportunity for All

It’s more important than ever to understand, respect, embrace, and support each other

by Haworth, Inc.

As a family-owned company, Haworth relies on our core values to guide how we live and operate in global markets. The way we work is always evolving, along with our family of employees, whom we call members. It’s more important than ever to understand, respect, embrace, and support each other. Our approach to inclusion, equity, and diversity further galvanizes this mindset.

As we progress toward our 2025 Commitments, we continue to expand our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. In fact, in 2021 we grew our DEI team, appointing an executive-level Vice President, Frances Hogsten, and a Manager of DEI, Scott Ayotte. They and their teams are charged with building awareness, informing, and educating our members and partners around the tenets of DEI.

In the following Q&A interview with Frances and Scott, learn how we are dedicated to this journey toward equity at work and beyond—encouraging belonging, ensuring opportunity, and embracing differences among our workforce, partners, and customers.

Q: How would you describe the culture at Haworth as it relates to DEI?

Frances: Making sure everyone is included, empowered, and rewarded for individual and team successes is important at Haworth. That idea is something we’re striving for in our culture, giving our members the tools to identify discrimination and remove the barriers that define its occurrences. 

Scott: I would also add that by overcoming barriers to participation, we can contribute to a culture of inclusiveness and equity at work to alleviate environmental and social challenges—like inclusive organizational development or access to resources and opportunities. These issues impact people unevenly across races, ethnicities, classes, ages, incomes, and genders, as well as a wide variety of human rights.  

Q: How can Haworth make a meaningful impact?

Frances: Our aspiration is holistic and integrated. Yet DEI varies from region to region, which makes the topic itself diverse. For example, while gender diversity is globally relevant, the importance of supply chain diversity varies. Depending on the region, the focus might have more emphasis on minority groups, such as disabled people. So, an important step is to develop an understanding to determine where there is a need for change and opportunity. This is why Haworth has invested in the resources, and both Scott and I are passionate about spending our time and energy on DEI.

We’ve defined goals in five key areas of diversity: member, supplier, designer, dealer, and community. Each of these is in a different stage of maturity and development—we are always evolving our approach and celebrating achievements along the way.  

A graphic representation of member

Member Diversity

Creating a globally diverse and inclusively equitable environment is an investment we make for the promise of future proofing our organization's productivity and performance for all members globally.

A graphic representation of supplier

Supplier Diversity

Intentional supplier engagement supports diverse economic growth, fosters deeper partnerships with local business communities, and empowers underrepresented entrepreneurs to innovate and compete.

A graphic representation of designer

Designer Diversity

Innovation is driven through a design community that both reflects and understands the unique cultures of the world.

A graphic representation of dealer

Dealer Diversity

A culturally diverse network of dealer partners allows Haworth to relate to the growing diversity of our customers and enhances our visibility to a wider audience.

A graphic representation of community

Community Diversity

Meaningful, inclusive community engagement is critical to community well-being. When viewed through a DEI lens, community members are supported, prepared, and empowered to make our world a better place to live and work.

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Frances: One way we engage our members is through Member Resource Groups (MRGs). The purpose is to create a fair representation of interests—especially of minority groups—to build awareness, respect, and inclusion within the workplace. MRGs are intended to foster a greater sense of community and mentorship while increasing member engagement, inclusiveness, and representation. They are voluntary, member-initiated, and member-led groups—and we currently have four: Veterans, Young Professionals, FUEL (Female Uplift Empower Lead), and FUEGO (Friends United & Engaged to drive Growth & Opportunity on behalf of the Latin Community). 

Members of FUEGO were invited to attend the Latin American United for Progress (LAUP) Annual Gala, a celebration of the exciting projects LAUP has accomplished throughout the year. 

Scott: We also want to extend our aspiration beyond our walls. We value the richness that supplier diversity brings to better support our customers around the world, fuel innovation, and enable problem solving. It makes our company better. We’re intentional about developing strategic alliances to create and sustain a diverse supply base that reflects the communities and customers we serve. This year we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure our supplier scorecards reflect our pillars and support all aspects of DEI.  

“We appreciate the steps Haworth has taken with its DEI initiatives. I know we share the perspective that DEI is good for the communities we operate in—and great for business."

Michael Davenport

President & CEO Jireh Metal, Minority Business Enterprise

Q: What about design partners? As a design-led, global company, you must have a very diverse network.

Scott: Design thinking is part of our DNA. Whether we’re working on product development or creating spaces, we rely on our global partners. They come from the world’s leading research institutions, architects, and designers—so, yes, they are quite diverse! With Design Centers in Italy, Germany, China, and the US, we are uniquely positioned to meet client preferences and diverse needs worldwide, based on local cultures and norms. These relationships form the foundation for innovation, and we are excited to evolve our DEI approach as we work with them in the future.

During Dubai Design Week, a round table with influential female designers and real estate managers offered an opportunity to discuss how women are shaping the future of work. And during International Women’s Month, Luminaire honored talented women pioneers in the design world. 

Frances: We also use our internal talent to impact people’s lives through inclusive design by helping our customers alter their spaces to encourage inclusion in the workplace. This could be as simple as providing people with choice in where and how they work, offering devices used by people with sensory limitations, arranging elements in the workspace to eliminate physical hazards and barriers, and giving people adequate space for assistive devices or personal assistance.

Q: How diverse is your dealer network?

Frances: Our dealer principals are not required to report demographics, so all our information is based on self-reported data. Based on what they’ve shared, we know that at least 25% of our North American dealers are minority- and/or women owned. We continue to support our dealers with development and leading practices to identify diversity opportunities within the context of their cultural definitions.

Q: And in the fifth area, community, what activities are taking place?

Scott: Haworth members are very engaged with the community. For example, we encourage participation in support of local organizations, like the United Way in North America and many organizations abroad, through volunteer activities and fundraising campaigns. We also offer scholarships and matching gifts to support educational institutions and nonprofits.

Q: So, what’s next?

Frances: We are on a journey—and we acknowledge that we don’t know it all. We need to regroup and reflect as an organization. Haworth is even more global than before. With our diverse workforce across our brands, we need to think about how to evolve. And we’re taking steps toward that by intentionally investing in education at the executive level, evaluating DEI with metrics, and assessing what it all means for our entire family of brands.

When we envision our future, we need to determine how far we are from our reality. Then, we’ll spend time in 2022 putting plans in place. It’s important that we rely on our relationships to help—our dealers, suppliers, design partners. People want to share what they have experienced in hopes they can hear what you have to share. We look forward to collaborating more with our colleagues and customers who are also on this journey to unlock the untapped potential of DEI. 

Supporting People and the Planet

Read stories and learn about our journey to make the world better in our newly published 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.


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