Celebrating Deltek’s Black Community and Our Focus on Equity and Inclusion

February 08, 2022

Culture is what makes every company unique. For most companies, it is created over time and at the heart of what they do. It is what attracts a candidate’s interest and what keeps tenured employees around year after year. At Deltek, our strong culture cultivates a diverse work environment where employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.

As an organization, we recognize the past several years have been incredibly difficult for so many, including people of color, our LGBTQ+ communities, Asians and millions of others affected by the pandemic and racial injustice. Which is why Deltek continues to make diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a priority at every level of the organization while creating a safe environment for employees to learn and grow together that encourages understanding and celebrates individuality.

In celebration of Black History Month (BHM), we interviewed Deniece Peterson, Senior Director of Federal Market Analysis and Leader of the Black Voices @ Deltek employee resource group (ERG). We discussed Deltek's progress regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion and how we can continue to improve as an organization.

Deniece, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and perspectives with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got your start at Deltek?

In 2010, I joined Deltek as part of the INPUT acquisition and have been focused on providing market intelligence to the government contracting industry for more than 15 years. Today, as Senior Director of Federal Market Analysis in our Information Solutions business unit, I lead a team of GovWin research analysts and focus on strategic analysis of federal budgets, contracting and IT market forecasting. I’m also part of Deltek’s Diversity Council and have the privilege of leading our Black Voices @ Deltek employee resource group.

As the leader of Black Voices @ Deltek and a founding member of Deltek’s Diversity Council, can you share how Deltek’s employee resource groups are fostering inclusion and allyship, in particular with our Black employee community?

The momentum has been slow but steady for the Black Voices resource group. We’ve found our voice as a leadership team and laid out a vision for what we’d like to achieve at Deltek. We’ve been working towards four major goals: partnering with HR and others to support Black employee recruiting and retention; providing opportunities for diversity education and best practices; creating a community of support for Black employees; and supporting strategies to expand external DEI activities and communications.

The ultimate purpose behind these objectives is to increase Black representation at Deltek and promote an environment that makes us all feel valued and safe. We still have work to do, but the building blocks are there and are fundamental to the culture at Deltek.

Given your dedication to building Black Voices @ Deltek, what are some of the biggest challenges you have seen with trying to grow this program from the ground up?

The two biggest challenges I’ve encountered are time and strategy. My involvement is a volunteer effort on top of my day job, and because I’m so passionate about it, I dedicate a significant amount of time to help advance our efforts. I often talk about issues that are difficult but necessary to discuss, and as a result, there is a personal, emotional cost in doing that. However, I am committed to paying the price if there is organizational commitment and employee engagement, which I believe there is.

I’m not alone in building the Black Voices @ Deltek program. As they say, it takes a village, and I’m grateful for the members of my leadership team who have been right there beside me, including Tunisia Christian, Jonathan Davis, James Alain Laplanche, Rachel Doherty, Ashley Gross, Misti Murphy, Isaiah Williams and our recently departed friend and colleague Melissa Shaw. Each of these individuals stepped up early on to contribute their time and ideas to help create this amazing group.

The other challenge for any organization standing up a DEI program is strategy. Deltek’s DEI strategy is still under construction, so it can be difficult operating without that structure. But we have to start somewhere, and I know this is a priority for Deltek’s leadership team, and I’m optimistic about what this year will bring.

BHM Blog Quote 2

Thank you for helping make diversity, equity and inclusion a priority– it is one of the key drivers of Deltek’s values-based culture– and part of everything we do.  As an employee seeking change, what does success look like to you?

One of the most critical drivers of a successful DEI program is whether an organization is able to embed it into the culture, on paper and in action. Organizations are made up of individuals who must all be collectively responsible for excising bias and fostering inclusivity, so creating a cohesive, enterprise-wide strategy, with standards, driven by top leadership is critical.

While DEI is a key driver of our culture, we also know that Deltek can benefit from a leader who can bring this all home. So for now, Deltek continues its search for a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader who has the right mix of experience and passion for evoking measurable change. 

Over the past few years, there have been a lot of articles and industry reports on how companies are evaluating their hiring efforts and adopting new practices. What types of changes is Deltek making related to recruiting to address gaps in diverse hiring?

There’s the old saying that the definition of “crazy” is to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. Deltek is taking on the challenge of re-imagining what recruiting and retention can look like in a world where competition for diverse, talented employees is high.

Companies have spent years doing the same thing, looking in the same places with the same processes, and then lamenting that diverse candidates “just don’t exist.” Deltek’s HR team, in partnership with hiring managers, are expanding the size and direction of the net used to identify diverse pools of candidates. They have invested in new tools, posted jobs on diverse recruiting platforms and expanded regions of interest.

But we know recruitment is only part of the equation. In addition to re-tooling how we attract and hire candidates, Deltek is also leveraging data to gain deeper insight into issues that can impact attrition, such as pay inequities, promotion policies and performance management strategies. This data and key DEI performance indicators (KPIs) will help the team determine what’s working and where we need to invest more time.

Since its inception in 2020, what are some of the most notable accomplishments of the Black Voices @ Deltek employee resource group?

The Black Voices ERG is still very much establishing itself, but I believe our growth is represented by the number of employees having conversations they’ve never had before and learning about issues they’ve never considered. And through this platform that we have created, we are helping ensure the unique issues that impact Black employees will be part of more conversations.

On a more tactical level, we’ve developed a clear mission and charter encapsulating our ERG’s key goals, facilitated learning of difficult topics, and created a space for dialogue. We continue to engage with HR, marketing and other groups to share information about DEI challenges and solutions. The way Deltek shows up for customers and employees is very important, so we’ve supported efforts to increase our representation at Deltek events and expand the scope of the search for speakers.

We also conduct trainings on unconscious bias and other topics ─ like this year’s Black History Month theme Black Health & Wellness. In this ERG presentation, I shared the origins of BHM, how healthcare has historically impacted the Black community, and the contributions African Americans have made in the medical field. Sessions like this and Juneteenth and the Fight for Equality are intended to help allies understand our history and how it impacts us today and so they can use their voices to help dismantle systemic racism and identify workplace bias model inclusive behavior. Understanding some of our Black colleagues' lived experiences and perceptions will help build the relationships and trust we need to create an inclusive environment.

BHM Blog Quote 1

Why is it important that we celebrate Black History Month?

It’s important to celebrate because Black history is American history, and the Black experience ─ then and now ─ is an essential factor in how Black Deltek employees show up at work. Acknowledging the challenges and celebrating the power and resilience of the Black community helps create an environment where Black employees feel safe to bring more of their authentic selves to work, which benefits us all. In addition, engagement on these topics sends the message that you not only see color ─ which is not a bad thing ─ you value it enough to learn about the historical and cultural traditions that come along with it.

In an environment where employee attrition is high for many companies, this type of inclusive culture helps retain diverse employees. While Black History Month is important, it is only one of many actions companies can take to illustrate a true commitment to understanding and valuing Black representation, diversity, identity, culture and history.

If you could share one piece of advice about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion and why it needs to be part of a modern organization like Deltek, what would it be?

Don’t treat DEI like it’s a project, with a beginning and an end. It’s not ─ it’s a personal and organizational commitment to learning and doing to create a diverse and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued. That being said, there should be metrics and transparency so that we all know where we’re starting, where we’re going, and what we’re going to do to get there.


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