The value of an inclusive work environment


Mark Allen, Senior Vice President, Marketing

When YA moved from Norwood Young America, Minnesota, to downtown Minneapolis in 2015, we fully embraced the life and pace of a bustling metropolis. Being in this convergence of talent and energy has enabled our organization to attract and retain key talent and to build strong, supportive teams. After laying the groundwork the past few years, we’ve begun reaping the benefits in every aspect of our business.

While it’s nice to know about the milestones you’ve achieved within your own work “family,” it’s especially rewarding when an independent source recognizes those successes, too. That’ why it was great to be featured in Human Resource Executive magazine in this cover story about the trend of many major companies moving back into their cities’ downtown cores. The article noted: “A who’s who of American corporations—General Electric, McDonald’s, Aetna and ADM, as well as a host of mid-sized firms—have relocated their headquarters in recent years to better compete for top millennial, tech-savvy talent. Often, these relocations involve moving from the suburbs to downtown cities, where many millennials prefer to reside and work.”

YA’s President and CEO Chris Behrens was quoted in the article: “As the business progressed and the world turned toward technology, and social and mobile applications, the talent pool that drove the decision was much more digitally oriented. And to attract top talent—software engineers—you had to be downtown. That was the main driver.”

Inclusion matters
Now that we’re here, we’re determined to do all we can to improve the vibrant life of this urban community. There are many organizations making important contributions to ensure that the Minneapolis workforce and corporate community is adequately prepared for the future. Chris serves on the Executive Committee of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, which, along with the Downtown Improvement District, East Town Business Partnership, Greater Twin Cities YMCA and Equity Innovation Center, has rolled out the “inclusive downtown think tank initiative.” It’s a yearlong series of guided conversations and hands-on experiences to imagine, define and create an inclusive downtown. I recently attended the inaugural meeting, along with our Chief Legal Council, Cathy Landman.

It was an incredible meeting, with more than 60 representatives from just about every type of community that’s represented in the city. What I liked most about the cross-sector gathering was the focus on rolling up our sleeves and getting something done. It’s a research-to-action work group with a strong commitment to finding the brightest thinking and the best practices around the issues of equity and inclusion.

We’re a meritocracy
The topics Cathy and I discussed with others at the meeting were very much in line with YA’s core values. We’re committed to creating a work environment that welcomes, appreciates and includes a wide variety of outlooks and capabilities. Being inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. At YA, we very much want to be “walking our talk” and doing our best to a hire and retain a diverse workforce. We want our inclusive culture to be just one more reason we’re an employer of choice throughout the Twin Cities.

We understand change happens most quickly when it comes from the top, and that’s why all of us within YA’s leadership are doing our best to maintain our workplace as a fair-minded meritocracy. Doing that will make sure we’re consistently bringing the best thinking to our clients to help them achieve their marketing objectives–and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really all about for us.

Let’s talk
If you’re interested in hearing more about how YA can help you acquire new customers, retain the ones you have and encourage everyone to spread the word about your brand, please contact me to begin the conversation.

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