From Awareness to Allyship: Our Evolving D&I Initiatives

Much like our diversified manufacturing expertise, Milliken is a company strengthened by diversity and inclusion in all forms. As stated in our purpose—together, we strive to positively impact the world for generations—the emphasis on together, and the unity it invites, set the tone for the way we work.

Diversity and inclusion are woven throughout our company—from our values to the high performance and synergies that come with effective collaboration. By empowering exceptions teams, comprising of differing backgrounds, experiences, and makeups, Milliken is able to excel in applying our material science expertise to help solve the everyday challenges our world faces. 

Over the past year, our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion has been formalized and bolstered by a series of key training initiatives and educational opportunities for our associates. One particular program centers on uncovering and addressing unconscious bias. 

Ricaye Harris—Milliken’s diversity and inclusion director—points out that your biases, intentional or ingrained, can inhibit the way you interact with people and hinder a working relationship's effectiveness. Since launching the Unconscious Bias Training in 2018, both Harris and Ottilia Scanlon—Milliken’s director of learning and development—believe that this training’s message and subsequent conversations continue to be relevant today. Unconscious Bias Training not only sheds light on areas of personal growth and opportunities but helps spark ongoing conversations that can directly impact the future of our company. 

The duo then identified the next step in the program’s journey was to introduce the concept of allyship as the follow up to uncovering and addressing unconscious bias. Scanlon points out awareness, nurtured by the unconscious bias training, is the first step in becoming an ally. “We can’t be an ally until we understand we have these biases, what these biases mean, and how they show up at work,” Scanlon said. “We have to recognize how bias impacts our ability to be successful individually and collectively as a team and company. Once we had this baseline, we can have a conversation about allyship and how we can take action to correct and overcome these biases.” 

As a result of these training initiatives, both Harris and Scanlon are encouraged by their colleagues’ willingness to take ownership of their allyship journey—rather than rely solely on the human resources department to provide the resource. Associates seek information and education beyond formal initiatives and take the conversation outside the workplace training space. The training sessions have been well attended by Milliken associates at every level, reinforcing the importance of diversity and inclusion within our entire company. Harris and Scanlon have heard several reports of associates having conversations with friends and family members using topics discussed in their training sessions. 

At the end of the day, we hope to provide a place where all associates can bring their authentic selves to work, with these initiatives fostering clear intentionality across our company. Associates learn and grow within their professional spheres, which then permeates into our communities as a whole—creating yet another positive impact for our world.