In 2009 Vanguard introduced a new program called the Diversity Speaker Series. To date, this is one of the company’s most popular diversity programs. The goal of the series is to build empathy and understanding by exposing employees to key diversity dimensions in an interactive and engaging format.
Distinguished speakers are invited to Vanguard to share personal stories about work, life and everything in between. Frequently these events reach capacity within hours after enrollment is opened. On average, more than 1,000 employees attend live events. For those who may not be able to attend the performance in person, sessions are broadcast to locations in Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Additionally, events are recorded and made available online. Vanguard also provides facilitator guides for leaders to conduct post-event discussions with their teams.
This year the Diversity Speaker Series began during Black History month, with an innovative new approach. The format began with a call to action for participation in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. days of service, followed by multiple opportunities to view the powerful HBO film View from the Balcony of Room 306, which highlights King’s legacy and last days. Each session offered participants time to share their feelings and observations about the film and memories from that time period.
The program culminated with a live interview featuring Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles, longtime civil rights leader and a close friend of King. Directly following the presentation, he and his wife joined members of the Black Professional Network (VBPN) and invited guests from senior leadership team for lunch and further discussion.
Inside/Out…Voices from the Disability Community was the second event in the speaker series. This live theater performance explored the firsthand stories of seven individuals and their experiences with disability.
Said one employee: “Inside Out was spectacular—easily the best piece of theatre I have ever seen. Thank you so much…for bringing this to Vanguard. I could not believe how quickly the 90 minutes went by. I took away three lessons: be the change, be of service, and build community.”
Vanguard uses a survey to measure the success of the Diversity Speaker Series. The attendance, comments, and Net Promoter Scores have reinforced the value of these programs to employees.