What does it truly mean to celebrate diversity in the workplace? While many companies tout facilitating cultural diversity as a core value, how many practice what they preach? The truest collective principle that bonds any workplace are its common goals to success. The underpinning magic of this success is the nurturing of team harmony and the creation of an environment where those of different minds, perspectives, and backgrounds can come together to collaborate and learn from each other. Different opinions, different histories, the same vision of the future. There’s no magic bullet to make this happen, and it’s not on one person or even one department. It’s a culture of openness and acceptance that must be embraced by all those it empowers within a company.

I’ve been with Bazaarvoice for more than 6 years, and I’ve seen so many changes, people, and even places as we’ve grown as a business. Openness is one of our core values that I’ve always appreciated and never wanted to take for granted. In fact, last year, I decided to put that openness value to the test. How we treated Martin Luther King Jr. Day was always different; one year it was a holiday, and the next, it wasn’t. Last year at Bazaavoice, we did not have it as a holiday, nor was there any attention paid to the day and its meaning. At other companies I’ve worked at, it was the same — the day was either a holiday or a work day. No speakers. No volunteering. Just a day. We had an opportunity to be different from those workplaces. This was an opportunity to give MLK Day back its context and engage with each other in service and diversity. I didn’t just want a day off. I wanted action.

So, I emailed our People & Talent team and explained my proposal to recognize the meaning behind the day and to build some activities around the holiday to engage people and their families. For this year, I challenged Bazaarvoice to focus on making the most of the day and to use the opportunity to educate employees on diversity awareness in the workplace. Of course, as I had hoped, they gladly accepted the challenge, and we formed an MLK Day committee. We took action and brainstormed activities that would unify, energize, and empower the company, such as hosting Preston James as a keynote speaker to elaborate on how diversity makes a company more successful. Next week, not only is Monday a company holiday, but the whole week is a celebration of diversity and of our core values. Now, in addition to openness, we’re incorporating creativity by inviting Shasparay Lighteard, a slam poet, to perform, generosity by volunteering at a local park, and teamwork with a themed scavenger hunt for employees and their families to do together over the long weekend. With effort and dialogue, we’ve come a long way!

I’m proud to work at a company that allowed me to raise my hand and put focus on a change that was important to me. Without action and awareness, diversity is just a really nice word. It is what we do to acknowledge and celebrate its meaning that moves the needle in a company’s future.