SETTING THE BENCHMARK

Benchmark Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Q&A with Rhonda Turner and Katee Van Horn

by Teresa Lamberger / February 10, 2022

As a global innovation partner and engineering and manufacturing services provider, Benchmark is committed to creating a transparent and open environment for all cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and genders across our facilities around the world. In fact, our diversity allows our company to stay on the bleeding edge. In technology, it's critical to have a wide range of viewpoints, perspectives, and backgrounds to keep innovation flowing. Therefore, not only do we celebrate our diversity, but we're always striving to improve it.

One major component of this goal is our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. DEI has been a key pillar of Benchmark from the beginning. Still, we recently began to develop more structure in accordance with our new ESG/Sustainability Council, SASB Fact Sheet, and our very first ESG/Sustainability report, which we will publish in early 2022. Our commitment to DEI is covered extensively throughout the SASB Fact Sheet, and we will report on our DEI metrics annually going forward.

To talk more about our efforts around DEI, we also sat down with Benchmark's Chief Human Resources Officer, Rhonda Turner, and Chief Diversity Officer, Katee Van Horn. Included below is a brief overview of the conversation to give a little more detail about Benchmark's commitment to creating a more diverse workplace and, more importantly, celebrating and uplifting our employees across the globe.

Rhonda-Turner-small Katee-VanHorn

Rhonda Turner
SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer

Katee Van Horn
Chief Diversity Officer

Can you provide an overview of Benchmark's plans to improve our DEI strategy?

Rhonda – We have created a four-phased approach to bolstering our DEI efforts. The first phase was refreshing Benchmark's core values. We rolled out our updated core values in June 2021, and from there, we moved on to phase two. This phase involves talking with and surveying our employees to gather data on their thoughts around our current DEI efforts and discussing what can be done better. The third phase involved analyzing this data and mapping out a plan to integrate feedback. We are on to phase four, which is implementing the strategy.

Katee – We also plan to survey employees annually to measure engagement. Our long-term goal is to track employee sentiment around DEI and get as many employees engaged with the process. Hence, we have total buy-in from the company on our DEI initiatives moving forward. It's also incredibly important to Benchmark that every voice is heard and has input into the decision-making around DEI. From that feedback, we also know it is critical to take action, which we will do!

Can you provide an overview of your DEI Initiatives thus far?

Rhonda – One of the first initiatives we underwent before we set our new DEI strategy into motion was the creation of the Inclusion Council. This group of individuals is open to all Benchmark employees and currently made up of 16 individuals who represent different company levels, including vice president, middle management, employees, and different countries and business functions. The objective is for the Inclusion Council is to be the voice of our DEI initiative and to help us launch Employee Resource Groups within the company. I am happy to say that the Inclusion Council is taking this work to heart and focusing on making each team member feel like they are heard and that they belong.

Katee – The refresh of our values was also a core component of our ongoing DEI strategy. It is at the heart of our ESG/Sustainability and DEI efforts. It was developed by speaking with leaders and employees across the company to ensure everyone was represented in them. The employee survey that is currently underway is also key to driving our phase four strategy. The data collection involves a written survey and face-to-face listening sessions with employees across Benchmark's global facilities. You will see that listening will be central to improving the experience that employees have at Benchmark.

What do you want employees, customers, stakeholders, and the wider Benchmark community to know about your DEI efforts?

Rhonda – Most importantly, we're very proud of the diversity we already have at Benchmark. We are a global team representing eight different countries and nationalities. This team is amazing, and we are so proud of what we have been able to do so far, and now we want to be more intentional in how we approach inclusion and belonging.

Katee – I would also add that Benchmark is not looking at this as a "check the box" type of activity. The goal is to create lasting and sustainable change that enhances the workplace's culture and enjoyment. Everyone from leadership down understands that diversity creates innovation and synergy and ultimately improves hiring the best talent and delivering great customer outcomes.

How can employees get involved with Benchmark's DEI efforts?

Rhonda – Joining the Inclusion Council or an Employee Resource Group is a great way to get involved. We also encourage employees to get involved in their facilities' DEI efforts, which helps us to make DEI real for everyone. Benchmark will also be very loud about our efforts in the coming months and years, so we ask that employees help us amplify the message.

Katee – The senior leadership team, has also made it clear that they want to hear directly from employees. Our leaders have an open-door policy, and we encourage all to join the conversation, ask to speak directly with their managers and voice their thoughts and ways to improve DEI within Benchmark.

We want to thank Rhonda and Katee for joining us to dig deeper into the current plans for Benchmark's DEI strategy. We will have a lot more to share about DEI in 2022. To remain in the loop, you can visit our website at www.bench.com and check out the SASB Fact Sheet or check in with our Setting the Benchmark blog.

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about the author

Teresa Lamberger

Teresa Lamberger is the Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Solutions for Benchmark. She is responsible for creating superior brand recognition, increasing awareness and understanding of the entire solution portfolio, cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets, and growing demand for Benchmark’s solutions.