Communicating openly and honestly | By Susie McCormick | December 7, 2020

Better Together

We recognize that togetherness takes work.

Nelnet has seen the power of teams that seek to understand and respect one another in order to create excellent work. That’s where Nycci Jones, a co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council and her team came in to develop a program that would promote unity between associates and spark conversations within the company.

Nelnet’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council came into the year with intention to promote a safe environment that encouraged employees to have an open mind and encourage fluid and critical conversations about social issues.

With these goals in mind, the world was struck by a global pandemic, and the Council was left wondering how they were still going to achieve them in a remote work environment.

Nycci and the Council shared that the pandemic has been a key factor in their promotion of these fluid conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion, and has even given them opportunities to take action.

Better Together

Nelnet, like many other companies, had to make the switch to full-time remote work to ensure the safety of employees amid the pandemic. As a result, one of the Council’s first steps was the creation of Better Together, an initiative to provide comfort and assistance to associates in their transition to the new work-from-home environment, and being there every step of the way to help people acclimate to the “new normal.” This pandemic has proven that we are able to work from anywhere and our teams can be just as productive, if not more, than ever before.

In addition, Nelnet was once geographically bound, hiring employees primarily near our physical office locations. Because of the shift to remote work, these boundaries have no longer restricted our talent markets. This has opened a direct pipeline to expand the locations where we’ve been able to recruit, leading to an increase in diverse thoughts and open-minded conversations.

This opened a direct pipeline to expand the locations we would recruit at – and hiring more diverse faces across the nation, including historically black colleges and universities, which, in turn, leads to diverse thoughts and open-minded conversations.

Some of those conversations hosted by Better Together include:

A Photo Says 1,000 Words: An open discussion about imagery and symbolism, where colleagues were able to hear each other’s interpretations on different images to spark conversations within a safe environment.

Black Leader’s Panel: Black leaders within Nelnet were able to openly share their experiences to small groups and answer pre-submitted questions.

The Better Together initiative, along with these open conversations, emphasized a safe place where adults were able to learn from different experiences, and the Council was able to gain powerful feedback on how people’s thought processes were actively changing.

Seeking unity in our organization and communities will continue to be a top priority at Nelnet as we move into 2021. Thanks to Better Together, a foundation paving the way for future company-wide initiatives.

Author: Ellie Geise


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