Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Meritage Homes featured image

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Meritage Homes

By: DaSjaun Rose

~ 5 minute read

Organizations striving to create a more inclusive and productive workplace have recognized that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are crucial focal points. As a certified DEI Strategist, I understand this year has been a time of transition towards less DEI training for many organizations, while maintaining a diverse workplace presents a unique opportunity to elevate the importance of creating more alignment and advocates.

Studies from Deloitte, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and more have clearly demonstrated that companies fostering a diverse and inclusive environment achieve greater innovation and long-term profitability. To achieve an inclusive culture and subsequent benefits, organizations must take actionable initiatives instead of merely being satisfied with appearing diverse on a data sheet. Inclusion and integration produce drastically different results.

However, many organizations do not know where to begin. That’s why Javier Feliciano, EVP and Chief People Officer of Meritage Homes, a leading homebuilder, shared his journey towards fostering a culture of belonging and equality. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key takeaways from this discussion, highlighting Meritage Homes’ strategic approach and the lessons for organizations aiming to amplify their DEI efforts.

Aligning DEI with Organizational Culture

Genuine support for inclusion in the organizational culture is essential for fostering a sense of belonging. As such, it is critical for any organization to fully investigate the health and status of the corporate culture. 

In Meritage Homes’ DEI journey, the first step was to identify how their approach aligned with the organization’s culture and fabric. Through a comprehensive survey (Meritage Homes used Denison Organizational Culture Surveys), the company gauged the health and alignment of their entire workforce.

Feliciano recommended that leaders address any gaps in the cultural fabric that would inhibit not only successful DEI initiatives, but also growth strategies for the business. An objective survey helped them to examine the culture of their organization.

Getting the Right People On The Team

It’s important to gather a team that espouses the fact that DEI will make your organization stronger. Look internally to those on your team who are a great fit and display your organization’s core values. But it’s not enough to have people who will evangelize with you – you need those who will challenge you to take your organization to the next level. Find those people internally and create the standards for high performance.

Meritage Homes acknowledged that enhancing DEI required collaborating with external partners as well. These partnerships, such as with Richard A. Smith of Benton+Bradford Consulting, LLC, and Tom Riggs of MindWire, brought valuable expertise and insight to the organization’s efforts. Leveraging external support facilitated the development of a more holistic and effective DEI strategy.

Defining the “Why”

Simon Sinek said it best – start with why. Meritage Homes defined their overall brand purpose to start. Once that was complete, they then defined why DEI matters to their organization. This involved creating a clear DEI vision and anchoring it in the core values of the company. This approach established a north star that guided the organization through any external challenges. Communicating this vision was achieved through a blend of formal and informal channels, including kick-off videos, surveys, written communications, webinars, and more.

Clear Definition of DEI

To ensure that every team member understood the organization’s DEI goals, Meritage Homes emphasized the importance of defining DEI explicitly. This clarity helped in aligning efforts and avoiding any misconceptions about the objectives of the DEI initiative.

Here is how Meritage Homes defines DEI: “We champion a culture of inclusion where employees feel a sense of belonging, are respected, and valued for their unique perspectives and experiences, have equitable access to opportunities, and are empowered to do their best. Cultivating a diverse team allows us to collectively be more successful and better address the needs of our customers and other stakeholders to deliver a Life.Built.Better.” There’s a watch out here; don’t just copy and paste. Work diligently to define DEI for your organization.

Building a Roadmap

The organization developed a roadmap to chart their DEI journey. This roadmap highlighted the current state (where they were) and the envisioned state (where they aimed to be). Such a roadmap allowed the entire team, from frontline workers to the board of directors, to gain clarity on the DEI approach. Importantly, this strategy ensured that the DEI vision remained politically agnostic, persisting regardless of external events. The organization’s commitment to DEI is perpetual and it is essential to acknowledge that the roadmap is not the territory. Difficulties may arise as they progress, but they will continue to move forward. 

DEI Strategic Roadmap across a variety of pillars and focus areas.
Meritage Homes’ DEI Strategic Roadmap as presented in August 2023

Beyond Training and Education

One of the most significant takeaways was the understanding that training and education alone are insufficient to drive DEI. Instead, storytelling and real-world business examples are essential tools for conveying the importance of DEI. The incorporation of a variety of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and accountabilities was stressed to effectively propel progress.

Communicating Effectively

Meritage Homes has purposefully communicated consistently throughout their organization to emphasize the importance of DEI. One or twice during training simply isn’t enough. Keeping an open dialogue and a collaborative approach to problem-solving help make everyone feel valued, create a supportive culture, and foster mutual respect and understanding. Effective communication encourages an honest exchange of ideas, enabling teams to identify potential issues and take action to address them. 

Embracing an Abundance Mindset

A significant hurdle to overcome in DEI efforts is the scarcity mindset, where some leaders fear that offering opportunities to one individual might deprive another. Meritage Homes encouraged an abundance mindset, emphasizing that fostering a diverse and inclusive environment benefits everyone. This shift in mindset can lead to more holistic DEI efforts and a stronger company culture.

Using Inclusive Tools

After searching for an unbiased tool that would enable equitable hires, coaching, and team development, Meritage Homes was thrilled to partner with MindWire and use Predictive Index (PI) to maximize their efforts. PI provides deep insight on a person’s behavioral and cognitive contributors, with firmly data-backed results, making it the most inclusive and functional administrative tool thousands of organizations have encountered. I am a living testament to the efficacy of Predictive Index in enabling equitable career and development opportunities.

In Summary

Meritage Homes’ DEI journey showcases the power of a purpose-driven approach and the significance of integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of an organization. By aligning with the company culture, setting clear goals, partnering with external experts, promoting an abundance mindset, using inclusive tools, Meritage Homes exemplifies how organizations can achieve lasting change. As businesses worldwide seek to enhance their DEI efforts, these lessons provide valuable guidance for fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Your Next Step

If you’re ready to look past the resume, expand your pipeline of qualified, diverse candidates, and find the kind of talent that your competitors would drool over, you’re just a few steps away. Let MindWire set you up with a free job target and run your candidates through the unbiased tools to find you the hidden gems that will take your business to the next level.

Start Your Journey to Organizational Excellence

Begin your journey with MindWire by your side. Contact us today and let’s discuss how to elevate your business together.

DaSjaun Rose

All about MARs: Mind-Action-Results. He's a fun-loving problem solver with expertise in conflict resolution, DEI, and leadership. A health-conscious family man with a competitive streak, he finds joy in art and music.