THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

January 11, 2024 / 3 minute read

The Motivation Matters: Goal Setting and Inclusivity in 2024

Written by Margaret Finley, Director of DEI and Head of Corporate Affairs

I’ve been thinking a lot about goals, as I suspect many others have as well. The new calendar year presents the chance to think about who we want to be and what we want to achieve both personally and professionally in the coming months.

As I think about my own goals, I also consider how to give myself the best chance to achieve them. The reasons behind our goals matter: If you set a goal because you want to reach it, you intrinsically bring more passion and motivation to achieving it. If you set a goal because someone tells you to, you likely will not bring the same level of commitment.

I was reminded of that recently when Advanced Drainage Systems’ (ADS) Culture Exchange Council held its All Hands gathering. The group helps advance culture and engagement efforts throughout our company, and the gathering was an opportunity for us to reflect together on the last year — what worked, what didn’t, what we can modify or adjust going forward. No one mandated that they be there. Every person in the room was there because they wanted to learn more about other cultures and ways to respect and honor those in the workplace.

The gathering was a balm for my soul. I heard people talk about their true desires to learn more about life experiences that are different from theirs, about wanting to be liaisons and ambassadors for others in circles that historically have been closed off from diversity. This wasn’t corporate-speak. It was people voicing the genuine human aspiration to connect with one another.

And while we are all in different places on our journeys toward accepting and embracing differences, I was so moved by my colleagues’ desire to make our company not only a great business, but also a great place to conduct business and a great place to work. Creating an even more inclusive work environment benefits all of us, simply by making our workplace more accepting. But it also benefits our business, in ways both tangible and intangible.

Not only does embracing cultural differences allow us to draw bright and diverse new hires to ADS, but it also helps us keep them as employees, saving us the cost and headaches associated with finding and making new hires. Of course, it’s also simply the right thing to do.

Beyond that, making our workplace safe for all people, especially those with different life experiences, increases innovation. It can create tension as new ideas come up against the old, while forcing creative problem-solving and mitigating the dangers of groupthink. And as long as everyone operates with respect, it can lead to incredible growth.

In order to work, people have to come to the conversation with open minds and a true willingness to learn. This year, I’m setting a goal to listen to voices I might have missed in the past, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I hope you’ll join me.

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