For St. Louisan Pamela Kelly, diversity isn’t about meeting a quota. It’s about optimizing an organization’s culture.
“It’s whatever your combined experiences are that will add to how you approach problem solving and how you see a problem,” defines Kelly, Director of Talent and Inclusion at Dot Foods. “And that, for organizations, is probably the strongest factor for innovation and driving change.”
Kelly joined Dot Foods in 2014, and after learning the foodservice company and its myriad of roles, she spearheaded initiatives to remove unconscious bias from job listings, discussions about candidates and other areas of the hiring process. She also educated all team members through expert reading material on the topic. The end result? “We’ve had a 135% increase in salaried diverse talent since 2013.”
Through growing a more diverse workplace, Kelly has been able to foster an environment focused on the cognitive diversity she says businesses need—and the same benefits of a cognitively diverse workplace are the ones she lists as top reasons her family lives in Downtown St. Louis.
“It’s the energy, it’s the sense of community, it’s almost like you’re in a unique civilization that is different from suburbia,” says Kelly.
Thanks to a community full of different backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences, when you live Downtown, she explains, culture is merely a few steps outside the door.
Kelly met her husband in Columbia, Missouri, where she attended college—and while she says it was a great place to live and raise her children, she was ready for a change from suburbia.
“When the opportunity came, I thought, ‘I can either buy another house or I can experience Downtown.’” Her family relocated into a Downtown loft, and—in opposite fashion from the stereotypical commuter—she began driving from the city into Chesterfield when she joined Dot Foods.
What makes the commute worth it? “It’s the element of surprise each day,” she says of her love of Downtown. “And then, for me, it’s the diversity.”