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Fostering diversity in the Utah business world

Have you and your employees discussed DEI yet? The facets of diversity, equity and inclusion have become a much-needed topic of discussion in board rooms, HR and employee meetings all around the country.

Utah is no exception to this rule. Especially as businesses begin to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic response, more organizations are focusing their attention on making workplaces more welcoming and inclusive.

Recently, Utah Business hosted a roundtable event with diverse leaders in the state to gauge how they feel about progress on this front.

What Utah leaders are saying about DEI

When asked what’s energizing about the current climate of diversity, equity and inclusion, one local business leader answered that multi-layered conversations about race are encouraging.

“I just feel like the conversation is shifting,” said Tekulve Jackson-Vann, a founding member of The Black Clinicians. “As a narrative therapist, I get a little geeked out when it comes to creating your own narrative. And so we’re just in this moment right now where the narrative is open and everyone’s voice can be heard.”

A leader from the University of Utah — Amy Fulton, Director of the New Leadership Academy — believes that discussions on equity are also focused on granular change, and that can be positive.

“In higher education, we’re looking at our students, but also our staff and faculty about how our practices over time within the system of higher education, within our institutions, have not been equitable to our students and understanding that real meaningful change must be enacted to uproot those practices and change them,” Fulton says.

As far as putting DEI changes into action, Lianna Kinard, a board member of the Utah Polynesian Professionals, says that leading by example with empathy is the best way forward.

“It’s also including people in what we’re doing and sharing that with others,” Kinard says. “Utah Polynesian Professionals started three years ago with 20 members who had random connections to Hawaii. And we have grown to over 700 in three years. It started with the 20 of us extending that invitation to somebody else we knew―and how much that’s grown! And so I think success is sharing our differences and what makes us all so great.”

Peng Se Liml, the senior manager of diversity and inclusion at 1-800-Contacts, believes that businesses can also reach out and lead the charge in bolstering inclusion.

“For me, it was so impactful to hear my CEO or my peers say, ‘Hey, Cambodian New Year is coming up.’ Or, ‘I know your family celebrates Lunar New Year, what do you guys do for that?’” Lim says. “That started getting me more comfortable to be myself at my workplace. And it was one of the reasons why I felt comfortable sharing aspects of my identity and my culture.”

Putting intentions into action

Some businesses that are making great strides in Utah with diversity clearly serve an inclusive customer base. That includes Carrus, a company based in Lehi that trains allied health care providers. In a story for Deseret News, its CEO Misty Frost points out several elements they bring to the DEI table at its own workplace.

“To best serve our audience and really understand exactly what it is they need and help them achieve the success that they’re looking for, we really need to be very conscious about being plugged into not only what we care about in our culture but being sensitive to the culture of our learners and really supporting people where they’re at,” Frost says.

To that end, training for all employees on DEI is an essential part to truly change the workplace for the better.

“It’s really important for leadership to continually beat the drum and they need to do it in meaningful ways by the actions they take. You can’t just talk about it once a month and (say) we care about diversity and then you don’t do anything about it,” Frost said. “Are you reviewing your hiring practices, how you write your job descriptions, how you’re interviewing people, are all the people who are interviewing sensitive to the issues?”

Merchant services offer better money management

Accepting payment from customers most easily and conveniently possible is a great way for any business to continue its progress. For merchant services, First Utah Bank and our partner Select Bankcard — another business Utah business — allows you to accept electronic payments from the internet or mobile as well as at retail locations.

Having a merchant account can lead to some excellent benefits for businesses, including providing customers convenient, flexible ways to pay for your goods and services. Accepting cards through online means also can streamline transactions for your business, allowing for better cash flow forecasting and management. There are also fewer instances of bad checks, avoiding the expenses and inconvenience that occur when a check bounces.

For location shopping, there’s also Clover Station, a system for accepting electronic payments with a fast-as-lightning processor, end-to-end encryption and data tokenization, and acceptance of chip, magstripe or contactless payment methods.

Learn more about merchant services in Lehi and how they can help strengthen your business on our website.