I grew up on the south side of Chicago and am 100% Lithuanian. This was very difficult in a world where everyone else seemed to be 100% Irish. My friends had names that started with O’ and they all had green satin jackets with “south side Irish” in white script on the back. I literally begged for the jacket, but my parents would hear nothing of it. In fact, my mom and dad made me wear red on St. Patrick’s Day – because St. Joseph’s Day is the next day and our heritage was “closer to Polish than Irish.” Combine that with my love of reading novels in second grade and my inability to properly climb a fence, and my early years could be considered unique – different if you will…
I think about the experience of feeling “different” a lot as an adult and definitely at work. We all bring different perspectives. Maybe you weren’t Lithuanian in an Irish world – but maybe, like me, you read a lot and that wasn’t cool, or you had a family that taught you different ways to look at things because of your culture or family structure. As an adult, you learn that all of that divergence of opinion has significant value to solving problems and creating new approaches to opportunities. Without it, we only see the world as we did when we were kids – that five mile radius that was our neighborhood.
Diversity matters at Sedgwick and it’s one of the reasons I am proud to work here. It is what helps us mirror those we serve on a daily basis. The Sedgwick neighborhood allows us to go beyond a limited view and pull in resources from all walks of life. We may not all wear the same names on our jackets, but that’s what gives the collective “us” the range of perspectives we need to deliver the right solutions to our clients.
Our client partnerships require us to know what works so that we can offer a variety of options to fit specific situations. We know that we can’t keep individual client programs insulated because the next great idea for that program might be outside of the program itself. It’s a pretty easy thing to do at Sedgwick because we have amazing resources we can access to get the best, most creative options for what we’re building or solving. And because our client base is so diverse, we’ve learned that the differences in the models employed for them help us see what might be. Our client partners expect us to know and use what works based on the diversity our organizations bring to the table.
I would like to challenge you this week to reach out to someone and ask their opinion or experience about something you are doing or need to do. I promise you that the range of thought you receive will be well worth it and you will find that each person has something valuable to offer, regardless of their background. Get a different perspective; get out of your comfort zone. And if you are bold enough to take my challenge, I would love for you to post what you learned right here so that others can learn from the experiences we all gained.
Kathryn Tazic, SVP, Client Services