Small Business Award winner spotlight: RedPoint Media
As the world and the workforce evolve, building and following a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan is becoming increasingly important for businesses. A study from Boston Consulting Group showed that having a diverse team can increase revenue by 19% and a survey by Glassdoor found that 76% of jobseekers consider a diverse workforce a top priority.
No strangers to DEI, RedPoint Media won the TD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award presented by Pride In Business at this year’s Calgary Small Business Awards.
People at the heart of each story
At RedPoint Media, not only do they find value in building and nurturing a diverse team, they highlight diversity in their work. From interviewing people for stories to building community partnerships and planning events, RedPoint Media works to include Calgarians of all backgrounds.
“The work is varied each day and very hands-on,” says Tsering Asha Leba, Senior Editor at RedPoint Media Group. “I could be editing a piece, interviewing someone, writing something, meeting with the team for a brainstorming session—the overarching theme is that I am always talking to different people.”
As the company’s president and co-owner, Käthe Lemon shares how the work at RedPoint Media allows their organization to stand out from other publishing groups.
“We’re in a very interesting niche. We publish Avenue and The Scene on our own behalf, but we also publish things on behalf of organizations that we work with. We do magazines for Alberta Cancer Foundation, BOMA, Calgary Foundation and others,” she says. “The biggest thing we’re doing right now is transitioning away from being called ‘a publisher.’ We’re beginning to think of ourselves as a social venture that is focused on connection. We create connection amongst our readers and communities through our magazines and content, as well as with our client markets and events.”
When it comes to expanding content offerings, Käthe says it is okay to go into something without knowing a lot about it, as long as there is a willingness to learn.
“You can have passion to write about something you don’t care about, as long as you are interested in the people who care about it. If you can talk to them and get them to open up about what their interest is, you will learn about it,” she says.
Implementing strategies to increase DEI
While DEI might mean something a little bit different to each person or organization, Käthe believes it is an area where the work is meant to be ongoing. Continuing the focus on people, she suggests listening to your community is a key step in building DEI.
“Listening to your community, being critical of your own practices and being open to change are the most important things,” says Käthe. “The incentive for that change is to truly reflect our values of connecting community and engaging audiences, and we need to be more thoughtful about who is part of that community. We have a responsibility to our readers and our city to think broadly about what DEI really means. We want to connect people, include them and welcome them through the things we read.”
She also reflects on the ongoing change of our cultural landscape.
“Who Calgarians are keeps changing and that’s wonderful. Cities right now are in a moment of change and we’re shifting from accommodating diversity, to attracting, welcoming and retaining diversity. Collectively, we need to go beyond accommodating to welcoming differences because they are actually strengths—having those differences is what makes us resilient and strong.”
“As a person who finds DEI important and as somebody who has been in many spaces where I may be the only person or woman of colour, I look for ways to use what I have learnt as a benefit for the people whose stories I am carrying,” adds Tsering Asha. “I ask myself ‘how can I make sure someone sees the representation they’re looking for? What privileges and powers do I have to help a person and bring them along for the ride?’”
No matter how a person or organization views it, Käthe believes practicing an effective DEI strategy is necessary for any business to stay afloat.
“I’m being flippant, but the work in DEI is about improving your company. If you don’t want to improve your company, your relationships with your employees or community, you are probably not going to be around that long,” she says. “There are some ways in which this kind of work can seem like an extra thing, but it needs to be integrated into all the ways that you relate to community, hiring, clients and vendors. If you’re waiting to think about diversity, then you’re missing out on clients because you’re not thinking about how you’re representing yourself.”
“For our business, DEI and accessibility are not just a part of our hiring practices, it’s not just about how we look or how we represent ourselves, it is about how we produce our work, who we think it’s for and having a broader understanding of who our community is and our responsibilities to them,” says Käthe.
“We worked with Inclusion Factor and learned that inclusion and equity need to come first. If you’re not inclusive of the community and of different views, ways of thinking or working, it won’t matter if you change just one element,” she adds. “It won’t matter if you stick diverse people in certain roles or certain advertisements. If you’re not thinking critically about the way your structures work and who is or is not served through them, you’re missing a huge opportunity.”
Tsering Asha drives home the importance of action in DEI. “Lots of leaders are thinking about DEI, but without a strategy and without including the rest of your team, you aren’t able to practice it or model it for anyone. A strategy is important—each of us individually can be all about DEI, but if we don’t work together, we aren’t working for the community we serve.”
“It’s not just a top-down piece; it’s a journey, it’s never-ending work. If you’re not listening to the rest of your team about new things or new language, you’re not opening yourself up for inclusion or greater learning,” says Käthe.
Forging partnerships and embracing expectations
Looking ahead, Käthe recognizes that the entire publication industry is in a time of transition. She says that during this time, staying connected is an important factor in staying relevant.
“We’re trying to plan ahead and predict where the industry is going and where the city is going. We don’t know exactly what the medium will look like, but we know that Calgarians want to connect with each other and with the stories that they’re seeing,” she says.
“We’ve just celebrated the 25th anniversary of our Top 40 Under 40 program, which shows the legacy we’re creating. We’re also building new partnerships, one of which is with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce,” says Käthe. “Over the past year we’ve forged a strong partnership, sponsoring each other’s events and working together. We’re also working with Tourism Calgary and other organizations in the city and beyond. Some of our biggest milestones are around partnerships.”
Tsering Asha looks back on her personal journey at RedPoint to reflect on what winning the TD Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award presented by Pride In Business means to her and to the organization.
“I started as an intern and saw that I was entering a workplace with so much innovation, ingenuity and a lot of opportunity to try new things,” she says. “The award still feels like step one, although we had all these sub-steps to get here. It feels really great to have the recognition and the respect, too. The people I’ve spoken to don’t just respect our DEI work, but they come to me and trust me with their ideas and their feedback. Holding that award really made me feel like we’ve earned trust from our readership who want and expect us to do more.”
“The award is not recognition of an end point, but recognition that we’ve started,” says Käthe. “It’s an inspiration to keep going—we’re on the right path and we’re doing the right types of things, but we still have more that we need to do. It always comes back to our readers and our clients—it is important to know how important we are to them. They expect more from us, because they believe that we can do it and they believe it is worthwhile to tell us.”
Käthe recognizes the ongoing path forward. “We know that we have continuing work to do, we know we have blind spots that we are working to overcome, but we also know that it is worthwhile because our community has told us. We have such high expectations from our readers and we don’t want to let them down.”