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In reflecting on WWT's diversity and inclusion efforts in 2021, it is clear that our programs were vital to the health and prosperity of our employees, company and partner organizations around the world. Our positive values and culture of inclusivity are strategic tools that helped us and our workforce be more innovative and resilient to change or uncertainty, which we had a lot of in 2021.  

We witnessed events like the U.S. Capitol insurrection, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Great Resignation (or Great Reshuffle), a supply chain crisis and global chip shortage — all during an ongoing pandemic.  

In addition to its physical effects, the pandemic's impacts on our collective mental and behavioral health were also dramatic. As a result of these and many other challenges, organizational culture and caring and compassionate leadership has become more important than ever. Our D&I efforts are at the core of our response to these challenges. 

WWT's Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan was built around three outcome areas: Our workforce, business, and global community. Last year was our first year of execution of the plan, and we are extremely pleased with the growth and progression we achieved in each of our outcome areas.  

With active support from our executive team and leadership, we saw high engagement from our workforce across the globe and we received mostly positive feedback about our D&I efforts. 

Employee Resource Groups 

The cornerstone of our program has been our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). We have seven of them and they strengthen our workforce culture dedicated to inclusion by helping all of us better understand each other through engagement.  

In 2021 the ERGs hosted 35 events with over 4,200 attendees. Here are a few highlights: 

  • SHADES, our ERG dedicated to Black and African American culture, hosted a tremendous Black History Month event honoring the legacy of Wendell Scott, one of the first African American drivers in NASCAR and the first African American to win a race in the Grand National Series, NASCAR's highest level.
  • WWT ABLE, our disabilities-enabled ERG, hosted Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School.
  • PRIDE, our LGBTQIA+ ERG, arranged for an event with Chely Wright, an author, country music artist and LGBTQIA+ activist.

Collectively, our ERGs in 2021 hosted events surrounding Transgender Day of Visibility, International Women's Day, Hispanic Heritage Month and AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month, to just name a few. We welcomed opportunities for employees to share parts of themselves that we may not otherwise have had the opportunity to hear or learn from.  

Left: HEARD, WWT's Hispanic and LatinX ERG partners with a local nonprofit in Atlanta to give back to the Hispanic community. Right: PRIDE, WWT's LGBTQIA+ ERG, sponsors St. Louis PrideFest. 

The events that were particularly impactful were those where our own employees spoke movingly about their lived experiences, struggles and triumphs.  

WWT's high scores on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) and Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index in 2021 were the result of the WWT ABLE and PRIDE ERGs excellent engagement efforts.  

Our ERGs created spaces for community, collaboration, networking and education, and their members have gone into communities across the globe to volunteer their time and resources. They've leveraged their professional resources to build relationships and create business value for our organization.  

Virtually every aspect of our business have been positively impacted because of our ERG program and its members.  

Listening Sessions 

Transformation doesn't happen without listening and we are proud of the way we have evolved our Listening Sessions program to include specific topics important to employees.  

When violent attacks on the AAPI community were on the rise, we held focused sessions with our API (Asian and Pacific Islander) employees. During and shortly after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, we hosted sessions for military veterans to discuss what they were thinking and feeling.  

We have hosted a range of topics centered on issues such as COVID-19 and the vaccine; returning to work; hiring and retaining talent; and mental health. Topic-specific sessions have proven to be particularly popular, confirming our teammates are looking for opportunities for connection and discussion.  

These Listening Sessions were also key to fostering continuous feedback between leadership and our workforce, which is absolutely crucial to reinforcing a sense of belonging.  

We also saw tangible ways our company's policies were shaped by the feedback we received in these sessions. We look forward to continuing these important conversations in 2022.  

WWT Storytellers  

In 2021, we saw our Storytelling program continue to gain momentum. Because of our teammates' admirable vulnerability, we were invited into parts of people's lives we had not seen before.  

At times, our team members shared personal stories of loneliness, depression, addiction and illness. We saw stories of struggle and triumph, encouraging others to embrace empathy and persevere in the face of adversity.  

Storytelling has become an important part of D&I as it greatly informs our ability to listen, learn and act. The willingness of our storytellers to be vulnerable as well as the enthusiasm of those who watch or read these stories created a greater connection that reached across departments, regions and countries.  

Stories like these foster empathy and bring us closer.  

Left: WWT employee Michelle Merrell and her family participate in Wreaths Across America, an activity supported annually by our Veterans ERG. Right: SHADES, WWT's Black and African American ERG, sponsors an event benefitting the Little Bit Foundation.

D&I IML Training 

While we are proud of our efforts around employee engagement, we have also seen success with the D&I training we launched 2021 as part of our Integrated Management Leadership (IML) program. This training covers high-level concepts around D&I, including awareness, unconscious bias and empathy. We utilize real-time exercises during our training to instill practical  hands-on skills and behaviors  surrounding D&I, and how these apply to us — both as individuals and as an organization

We are pleased to announce that we successfully met our goal of training all WWT managers and leaders on the module. Post-training survey results have been overwhelmingly positive with requests for additional supplemental materials to continue the conversation amongst leaders and their teams.  

Starting in 2022, we plan to reach all global WWT employees with this important training effort. Our goal is to have all employees trained by the end of 2023. 

IML training ensures employees have the necessary information and skills to apply D&I concepts as individuals and on their teams. We hope this training will continue to facilitate conversations about the value of D&I and strategies for implementing it across the organization.  

Global Community Impact 

Our Global Community Impact efforts in 2021 reflect our belief that strong communities build strong businesses. Investing in the health, wellness and education of people everywhere results in positive economic and social outcomes that benefit us all.  

With the mission of strengthening our communities by supporting organizations that provide education and career preparation, promote physical and mental wellness and provide human services to address society's greatest needs through empowering employee volunteerism and financial support, the GCI team has planned and led events and engaged our WWT employees through both in-person and virtual volunteering opportunities.  

For example, over 2,100 employees executed more than 5,355 tracked volunteer hours in 2021 by organizing and hosting outstanding philanthropic events. These efforts touched myriad organizations and efforts, including the STEM Student Forum and Hackathon and NAF Future Ready Lab – High School Internship Program, and partnered with the American Cancer Society, Girls, Inc., NPower and LaunchCode.  

The GCI team also worked cooperatively with our ERGs to create some very memorable events like STEPtember with WWT ABLE; the Amplify Voices Community Panel with LEAD; the Little Bit Foundation's Opportunity Fair with SHADES and the St. Patrick's Center's Veterans Day 5K with VETS.  

Some of last year's exciting GCI moments included our participation and sponsorship of the Boys Hope Girls Hope Collegians at the BEYA and Women of Color STEM conferences; visiting the K'iin Beh school with the PGA TOUR while at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba (more on the tournament further on in this article) and sponsoring the Global Citizen LIVE in New York City, where our team committed $3 million in financial and social impact to community partners in response to Global Citizen's Recovery Plan for the World campaign.  

All of these represent truly exceptional accomplishments.  

Left: WWT employees pose for a picture while at Global Citizen Live in New York City. Right: WWT Global Headquarters in St. Louis lights up in blue to recognize World Autism Awareness Day (April 2).

Supplier Diversity 

During 2021, our Supplier Diversity program helped develop small and woman-owned businesses and diverse suppliers. The program is thriving and exceeded all of our 2021 goals for total diverse supplier spend, African American spend and LatinX spend. 

Our All Star Program, created to provide mentorship, access and opportunities to our top diverse suppliers, also continued to grow in 2021.  

WWT expanded our Supplier Diversity program, too, to include recognition and support of the efforts of our WWT Internal Champions — individuals who have gone above and beyond in providing exceptional support and commitment to our Supplier Diversity program.   

Our Supplier Diversity and Diversity Business Development teams continue to develop relationships with customers, partners and vendors to nurture diversity at every stage of the sales cycle, which is driving innovation and creating positive outcomes for our business, partners and customers.  

World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

One of our 2021 highlights was the announcement of WWT as title sponsor for the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

During the championship tournament in November, WWT hosted customers and partners in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, for a celebration of technology, diversity and the power of digital transformation. This included a two day forum on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that featured guest speakers and panel discussions. 

On day one, retired NBA player and current philanthropist and entrepreneur Derek Anderson inspired us with his story of grit and perseverance and we learned from a panel of distinguished experts in supplier diversity, which spoke of the importance of diversity across the supply chain. 

On day two, we welcomed Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush, along with a panel of experts, to discuss DEI and the workforce. We encourage you to check out Ann Marr's reflection on Michael Bush's message at Mayakoba.

WWT's sponsorship also includes title sponsorship of the Advocates Pro Golf Association (APGA) Tour's player development program, an organization dedicated to bringing greater diversity to the game of golf.  We look forward to the opportunities to work with APGA Tour CEO Ken Bentley to help provide resources and opportunities to these players.

Left: Diversity in the workforce panelists at WWT's DE&I Forum at the World Wide Championship at Mayakoba. Right: Supplier Diversity participants at Mayakoba DE&I Forum.

Looking Forward 

We are astounded by the positive responses we've received from our employees around our D&I efforts. Whether it was actively engaging in our virtual events, submitting stories, attending listening sessions or participating in our ERG conversations, we have seen a warm embrace of our programs and activities.  

Celebrating our unique qualities makes us better individually, collectively and ultimately drives business innovation and success. 

With the support of our leadership and global employees, we will continue the momentum in our D&I program and make WWT a great place to work for all.