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A committee with DE&I in focus

June 5, 2024

DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) committee at Axis

In 2018, a DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) committee was formed to support the diversity culture at Axis in the Americas region. We met with committee member, Gabi Budihas, and the committee chair, Kerri Sutherland, to hear more about the initiatives, what goals the committee is working towards, and what they achieved over the years.

During conversation, Gabi’s passion for DE&I radiated. She describes ”diversity at Axis is about understanding the value of differences that give individuals the opportunity to reach their full potential. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone should have equal opportunities for success and professional development. All individuals matter at Axis, and their thoughts and ideas matter too.” These thoughts are based on The Axis Code of Conduct, which uses the UN’s Global Compact as a basis, and sets the standards for the entire company, all employees and partnerships.

Committee chair and Manager of HR Business Partnerships from the Americas, Kerri Sutherland, explains, “Originally the idea was born out of a team discussion at the Americas Kick-Off in 2018, with the D&I committee forming six months later, on June 28th.

“We wanted to establish a committee to enhance and foster an inclusive environment that encourages and embraces unique perspectives through communication, education and awareness”.

How did the Committee work proceed?

Kerri explains, “When the committee first started, surveys were conducted to uncover the most helpful initiatives for employees. Popular choices included bias training, a Women in Security event, and DE&I educational webinars. Questions were asked, such as “Where do we want to be?” and “How do we define success?” to lead the committee in the right direction”.

A 5-year plan was set in 2018, making 2023 the official timestamp for goal evaluation. The three goals were as follows:

  • Become a thought leader in the industry
  • Be a model for DE&I initiatives and equality
  • Increase in equality and inclusiveness  

Kerri continues, “To reach the goals, the committee focused on areas that would enable the best success, which included executive buy in, training and events. Specific goals and activities were set and over the years, and they were met with flying colors. Successful initiatives included quarterly campaigns, a DE&I scholarship, manager toolkits, Women in Security events, bias training, webinars and the Axis Cultivate: IDEA event in 2021.”

What results have you seen so far?

Kerri elaborates on the results, “During its origin, the main focus of the DE&I committee revolved around gender and ethnicity. Over the years, Axis has seen improvements in these areas among their employees, becoming more aligned with the census data year after year. In the Americas alone, female employees increased from 28% in 2017 to 32% in 2023. Ethnic diversity has risen and fallen over the years, varying by category. In the U.S. for example, the Asian demographic rose from 2.9% in 2018 to 4.6% in 2023, while the white demographic decreased from 85% in 2021 to 82% in 2023.”

The DE&I (diversity, equity, and inclusion) committee at Axis in Americas.

We maintain an ongoing dialogue for feedback and eagerly welcome fresh perspectives and ideas from new members. Gabi notes, “encountering Kerri and witnessing the DE&I initiatives ignited a spark within me. It compelled me to seek a place within the committee. Immediately, I found myself embraced by both seasoned and incoming members, fostering a sense of community that continues to flourish. When the opportunity arose to contribute to this blog post, I felt a deep-seated desire to participate, eager to lend my efforts in crafting something impactful to share with others.”

2024 themes are already set in motion with topics about autism and neurodiversity, gender and LGBTQ, generational differences, and culture. A monthly calendar with DE&I holidays continues to be sent alongside internal e-news and company meeting updates. Whether it be an “awareness” month, committee meetings or special DE&I holidays, the committee consistently communicates engagingly to all of Axis.

The Future of the DE&I Committee

While the DE&I Committee has already impacted Axis in the Americas in many ways, there’s still a long way to go. Committee chair, Kerri Sutherland, has high hopes for the future and knows impact can be made with continued passion.

“As we look ahead, the future of our DE&I committee is rooted in our unwavering commitment to fostering a workplace that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level. We envision our committee as a dynamic force driving positive change, facilitating open dialogue, and implementing strategic initiatives that promote fairness, respect, and belonging for all members of Axis. With a focus on continuous learning, collaboration, and accountability, we are dedicated to shaping a future where everyone can be their selves with an opportunity to thrive and succeed,” Kerri Sutherland concludes.

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