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Intentional Inclusion in the Workplace: Holding People Ops to a Higher Standard

Gabby VanAlstine
Gabby VanAlstine

Across the United States, civil injustice and systemic racism are finally being acknowledged. The workforce, the nation, and the world are waiting for much needed change. The time to do better, be better, and to take action is now—for some of us, it’s long overdue. As employees are struggling and searching for justice, HR professionals and leaders can no longer deprioritize diversity & inclusion (D&I). 

At 15five, we’re working to understand how we can further integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of our organization. 

D&I is an intentional focus, not a standalone initiative. We’re committed to building and supporting an inclusive team of diverse individuals—and we’re using data from our own employee survey and insights from engagement data to learn how. 

We’ve looked at employee tenure across each important demographic. We’ve studied our salary equity. We’ve looked at the racial diversity of our leadership—as well as our entire team. We’ve analyzed our engagement by demographic criteria. We’ve used data to address the hard truth that while we prize diversity in the workplace, we still have a lot of work to do. 

Because of this, the People Ops team at 15five created a list of actions that will help us do better, be better, and become a more diverse, inclusive organization. Am I worried we won’t achieve all of our plans? Absolutely. Do I sleep better knowing we are holding ourselves to a higher standard? Again, absolutely. 

We pledge to take the actions below, and we’ve shared this pledge with our team so they can hold us accountable. We’ll share progress and learning along the way, but we would love to hear what you’re doing in your organization to make changes now.

At 15five, we’ve committed to pursue diversity in the following ways: 

Professional Development: 

  • We will host at least two D&I workshops a year, provided by a diverse roster of subject matter experts.
  • As we build our first 15five Leadership Development Academy, inclusive leadership will be a competency in our development program. 
  • We’ll train our leaders on providing constructive feedback and avoiding microaggressions (small, even unconscious, statements and actions that act as discrimination).
  • We’ll train our leaders to inspire a shared vision among team members to promote belonging and inclusive practices, helping them support and build a diverse team. 

Talent Acquisition:

  • Diverse teams are stronger teams. We’ve committed to improving the diversity of candidates who progress through our talent acquisition funnels through expanding our recruitment sources, using structured interviews, and training interviewers on implicit bias.
  • We will review candidate data every two weeks to better understand progression through our process. If minority candidates aren’t progressing, we will seek to understand why and execute any change necessary to ensure fairness and equity. 


  • We’ve adopted an inclusion promise instead of a policy—policies tell you what not to do, and we want to focus on what we can and will do. We include this in our handbook, on all job posts, and anywhere we can share it. Feel free to use ours to create your own: 

    Our Inclusion Promise: 15five embraces diversity and equal opportunity in a serious way. We are relentlessly committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. The more inclusive we are, the more our culture comes to life, and the better we can fulfill our purpose of helping people achieve their true potential at work.
  • We’ve adjusted our self-managed paid time off policy to make sure Emplifiers know they are encouraged to take time for causes they care about, including peaceful protests.


  • Our culture club is hosting a book club and discussion group called Let’s Talk About Race, welcoming candid conversations.
  • We held a fundraising initiative in which 15five matched donations of up to $2500 for Emplifiers donating to Black Lives Matter or other racial justice organizations.
  • We’ve partnered with a diverse cast of speakers & coaches for several of our upcoming chats.
  • We support Black-owned businesses with everyday purchases, including gifts for our employees at major life events.

People Ops Metrics:

  • We’ll improve transparency about our internal metrics so that our team can continue to hold us accountable.
  • We’ll share our internal D&I data with our team, including average tenure per gender, engagement per age demographic, the average demographics of our candidate pools, etc. 

We’ve committed to more than just the actions on this list. We’ve created an entire D&I action plan. We’ll provide updates along the way, but we still encourage questions from our team. Like so many others, I acknowledge that we should have taken these actions earlier, but we’re absolutely committed to meaningful change now—and moving forward. 

Our entire company has also gotten behind building a free diversity and inclusion assessment to help evaluate the climate of your organization and team. We’re excited for leaders to get the data they need to inform their D/I strategy. 

I’m also proud of our team for contributing time and resources to creating this tool.

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