Exertis Almo’s Kim Lonas highlights the need for DEI

For Kimberly Lonas, Global Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager for Exertis Almo, having the DEI panel at an E4 event was a crowning achievement. Speaking of its importance, she notes that even if a small group of people pulled out key strategies to improve DEI, the AV industry would be a different place.

“This is DEI’s first step into Exertis Almo’s educational space; and we hope that by giving [attendees and customers] the foundation, it will grow inside and outside the company,” observes Lonas.

Rise of women in AV

According to Lonas, it’s great to see companies really working to build leadership with female executives. She adds, “When you have women at the leadership level, it gives that open and inclusive environment where people have a safe space to voice their opinions,” Highlighting this at Exertis Almo, Lonas reveals the company is conducting a survey commitment each year. “We always ask the question, ‘Do you see yourself working within the company or do you see yourself growing within the company?’ she says. As this relates directly to senior management and senior level managers across the business, she has remained committed to increasing representation within management. “We know it has an impact and so we’ve linked it to our ESG goals,” Lonas points out.

Regarding his own role at Exertis Almo, Lonas says it speaks to the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. “When you break down the role, it’s not just about what we do internally, but also externally,” she offers. Lonas then reveals that in its first six months, the company trained more than 500 leaders around the world in inclusive leadership. “I want to put our business on the path to success, not only from a diversity standpoint, but also from a retention standpoint,” she says.

As Global Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager for Exertis, Kim Lonas is responsible for developing Almo’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy across all divisions of the company. Here, her role is accelerating the journey towards equitable, diverse and inclusive workplaces as a norm within her corporate culture and beyond.

Lonas is also an active member of the AVIXA Diversity Council and co-chair of the AVIXA Women’s Council of Western New York. She was instrumental in establishing the AVIXA Mosaic Scholarship Fund.

Retain and recruit diverse employees

Lonas acknowledges that the leadership training has received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “With the table set so to speak, these leaders have other issues such as recruiting diverse talent and creating an inclusive environment,” she says. In other words, Exertis Almo’s next steps are to improve inclusive recruitment practices. “There are a lot of layers involved here, especially with the elimination of unconscious bias among investigators,” observes Lonas.

To combat this, the company is looking to create a “hiring license”. Essentially, every manager needs to undergo training on how to interview how to recruit. “It’s not just about how we hire, but also how we’re going to identify talent,” adds Lonas. The strategy, she says, is knowing how to tap into the diverse pool of talent available. “We partnered with an organization, and they helped us integrate autistic employees into our workforce,” she reveals. Along with this, Lonas believes it is equally important to be “more visible in the communities we serve and to support the DCI efforts of partner organizations.”

Look forward

Next on the list for Lonas is providing employee resource groups to support women, the LGBTQ community, multicultural employees, workers with disabilities and young professionals. By reviving this program (which began before the pandemic), she hopes to build support from different groups within the company.

“As a community, we can talk about diversity and inclusion where people share diverse experiences, but the bigger question is whether they feel safe to do so,” Lonas proclaims. The idea, she says, is to provide a safe space for everything employees.

Robert M. Larson