Nov 07, 2018

My path to Diversity & Inclusion with Shane Metcalf

A couple of weeks ago, we interviewed Lingo Live CLO Jesse Abing about his personal connection with Diversity and Inclusion, and why he’s chosen to speak at the Humans, not Resources meetup this Thursday. This week, we decided to ask 15Five’s Shane Metcalf, event’s moderator, how he became invested in D&I, as well. Read on to learn more.


Why are you interested in Diversity and Inclusion? What personal experience have you had with it?

I, like many humans, know what it’s like to feel like I don’t belong, and it’s a rotten feeling. When I’m in that state, I’m more focused on planning my escape than being present and contributing to anyone’s success beyond my own.

As we’ve grown 15Five over the years, I’ve asked myself the question “How can we create a culture where people feel seen and celebrated for who they really are, such that they can cultivate and contribute their greatest gifts?”

When we feel like we belong, there’s a sense of freedom and a strong desire to contribute. We’re emotionally invested in the success of our peers and willing to put in extra effort. We’re less prone to avoid difficult conversations and more likely to grow from constructive feedback.

While it’s not all on the companies shoulders for people to experience belonging, we can build cultures that at the least, aren’t actively undermining this and at the best, lead people into profound levels of belonging and performance.


How have you seen the conversation about diversity and inclusion change over the course of the past few years?

It seems to be moving out of a PR initiative and into being table stakes for any company that wants to remain competitive and relevant. There’s more research and data showing that in addition to it being a more enlightened way of doing business, a diverse and inclusive culture outperforms the alternative.

The #MeToo movement and open conversations around race and class privilege are creating a cultural transformation. Women’s ongoing revelations about sexual assault and harassment have been a wake up call to a collective culture that has eroded psychological safety for countless women, many of whom work in our companies. We now have the opportunity to have the conversation around how to do we heal from the trauma and build regenerative cultures that can serve not only business ends but also be part of the healing.  

We don’t have many role models of companies that have done this well which is why it’s so important that we spend the time educating ourselves and aspiring towards a higher ideal. Humanity has a pretty heavy past full dark shadows that we’re still paying for the price for, but our companies can help actively uplift the whole of us.


Can you explain the relationship between employee engagement, belonging and bringing ones full self to work?

Belonging is a core human need – right above shelter in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. When you have a strong sense of social belonging you have access to the higher rings of the ladder. It’s nearly impossible to fulfill the higher needs that result in you being your best self if you are cut off at the knees. Sure, you may provide a pay check to your employees but if they don’t feel included then there’s no way they will be able to focus on doing their best work, let alone feel like their whole self is actually wanted by their peers and by leadership.

If your full self is essentially anonymous in the office, there’s very little emotional investment in staying or going the extra mile. People don’t really know you so it’s not a big deal when you leave. Now consider the alternative – you work in a company that deeply cares about who you really are, about unlocking your greatest potential, is actively investing in helping you understand what you want and then get it and you feel like your peers not only get you, but celebrate you. It’s an entirely different picture and you’ll almost certainly be invested in the success of the collective and stick around as long as your learning and growing.


How does this all relate to employee retention?

People can’t help but want to stick around an inclusive culture. At 15Five we’ve only had 2 people voluntarily leave in almost 7 years, the last of which left in 2015. By investing in the simple and small things that have people feel seen and valued, both for their performance but also for their innate value as a human being, you will stand out as a company and provide one of the greatest professional experiences of someone’s life.

It’s much easier to leave a company when people only know you on a surface level, when no one asks how you are feeling, when your dreams and aspirations are dismissed as a liability to you doing your job, when it’s obvious that leadership sees you as a resource, not a living breathing human being.

Get to know who your people really are and what their dreams are then help them realize those dreams. There’s no greater formula for a devoted, passionate workforce.


Do you think it’s important for HR and other leaders to come together for events like Humans not Resources? Why or why not?

One of the things I love about People Ops people coming together is that everyone is so nice! It seems there is an unusually high degree of emotional intelligence in this field, which makes for lively conversations and lots of opportunities to open doors for each other.



Humans not Resources is a Meetup for human resource professionals and other people & culture leaders. They host industry leaders who share about the latest trends in people operations and culture, so that you can keep up with the rapidly evolving needs of your modern workforce. Come and hone your skills while growing an amazing network of people-focused professionals.



My path to Diversity & Inclusion: An Interview with Shane Metcalf


Diversity & Inclusion, Leadership

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