DEI(B) Guest Editorial - Brad Birdwell

  • DEI(B) Guest Editorial - Brad Birdwell

    Lakewood, CO - April 26, 2023

    Brad Birdwell HeadshotAs someone who has personally experienced a lack of acceptance in the workplace, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI(B)), as acceptance has helped shape my career and the way I lead.

    For those who don’t know, DEI(B) is defined as:

    Diversity: the presence of differences (culture, ideas, ethnicities, skills, gender, age, lifestyle, disabilities, etc.)

    Equity: ensuring access, procedures, processes, and distribution of resources are impartial, and available for all individuals to succeed and grow

    Inclusion: ensuring individuals feel welcomed and supported; inclusion is the outcome of diversity and equity

    Belonging: one’s perception of acceptance and feeling respected; positive relationships emerging between individuals of various backgrounds; the feeling of belonging is a result of effective diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts

    I have personally experienced a lack of acceptance in the workplace. As a member of the United States Military during the late 1990s, when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was in place, I was impacted profoundly. My experience was that I was not accepted but was still expected to serve my country and potentially risk my life for it, as long as my identity wasn't revealed. 

    After completing my military service and staring my professional career, I took on a job with an organization that I quickly came to regret. Early on, I overheard subtle but derogatory remarks about gay individuals in the office. It immediately made me fear the consequences of being honest about my own identity at work, and I felt compelled to hide who I truly am. Unfortunately, this experience installed a sense of fear in me that hindered my ability to reach my full potential. 

    Today, I actively promoted inclusivity to foster a positive and accepting environment for my team. My goal is to cultivate a culture where young professionals fell comfortable being their authentic selves. To achieve this, I have established the following principles.  

    Inclusion is a non-negotiable standard.

    Respect for every individual is mandatory.

    Everyone is encouraged to listen to and consider the opinions of others. 

    We welcome feedback on our culture to continuously improve it. 

    I have found that prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) is crucial for creating a more equitable and just workplace. It is not only a moral obligation but also a smart business strategy. By doing this, we can all unlock the full potential of our teams and drive meaningful progress toward a more equitable future. 

    Brad Birdwell
    Franchise Manager
    Express Employment Professionals of Lakewood, CO