Convention individuals provide insights into the construction of a various office

Panelist Melanie Huet, top left; Deena Gardner, bottom left; Vivan Weng, bottom right; and Laurie Tokarz, top right, join Editor-in-Chief Sheila Long O’Mara, top center.

HIGH POINT – Participants in a panel discussion at the Furniture Today Bedding Conference looked at increasing the diversity and inclusion of the industry to better serve today’s heterogeneous consumer base. What companies can do to embrace diversity and attract a more diverse workforce turned out to be a key issue.

When it comes to building a talent pipeline, “the more examples of different leaders you have in the company will certainly help attract (diversity) at all other levels,” said Melanie Huet, Serta Simmons chief commercial officer Bedding, adding that she is attracting this diverse talent is just a start. “If you have talent, investing in that talent and moving them to bigger positions is important when you work in an industry that needs to work on diversity.”

According to Deena Gardner, vice president of Marketing & Communications at Reverie, race and gender are not the only considerations in creating an inclusive corporate culture.

“Sometimes we miss the other element of diversity: the diversity of generations,” she said. “I work in marketing and creative, and for some reason it’s easy to attract younger talent.”

Although relatively young among furniture managers overall, she is the oldest person on her team, and she pointed out that intergenerational learning and sensitivity is a one-way street. For example, a young employee might have created a great website design, but the font size needs to be adjusted to suit a wider customer base.

“I wear glasses myself and I could say, ‘Step back from your screen and think about it. ‘Our consumers may be a bit older than our team. “

All panelists recognized the importance of flexible benefits that applicants and single parents appeal to in creating a diverse job. However, Vivian Weng, Classic Brands chief commercial officer, said the benefits alone are not enough. The guidelines should specifically mention non-traditional relationships such as same-sex partners and spouses.

“It’s not just the fact of the program (achievement) that you offer it, it’s that you give it a call and credit so that someone who applies reads this, sees this in your mission statement or achievement guide and says, Oh “I’m recognized, there are people like me here,” she said. “They also realize they are recognized in the company values, even if they don’t see people who look like them.”

Laurie Tokarz, President of Restonic, said flexibility can cost the company nothing in many cases, especially when it comes to paid time off / vacation arrangements.

“Many cultures don’t celebrate Christmas, many companies offer Thanksgiving and the day after,” she said, noting near-universal paid holidays in the United States. “If this is a holiday that you are not celebrating and you have to work on a holiday that you are celebrating, this level of comfort will be compromised. If you gave everyone the opportunity (flexible vacations) I think they would feel more valued, and if you feel more valued then you will be happier in your role. “

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