Dayna Kleve on Empowering Employee Resource Groups

June 13, 2023
Dayna Kleve is the Director of Diversity, Engagement and Foundation, Walser Automative Group
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Dayna Kleve is the Director of Diversity, Engagement and Foundation, Walser Automative Group


Key Takeaways:

  1. Dayna Kleve oversees the diversity, engagement, and foundation efforts at Walser, which includes corporate communications, community engagement, and employee resource groups (ERGs).
  2. Walser started its diversity work in 2018 by focusing on the customer perspective and realizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in serving their diverse customer base.
  3. Walser formed employee resource groups, such as Women of Walser and Drive with Pride, to support and empower specific communities within the organization.
  4. The ERGs at Walser are employee-led, employee-driven, and fully funded, with a collective budget of $85,000, not including stipends for the board chairs.
  5. Walser's initiatives, such as open PTO, paid family leave, and fertility and adoption assistance, have positively impacted employee retention and engagement.
  6. The organization tracks retention closely and emphasizes the importance of metrics to demonstrate the business case for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  7. Walser aims to continue its progress by exploring additional ERGs, such as a veterans group and a parenting resource group, and focusing on mental health support for employees.


Kyle Mountsier: 0:00All right, we're sitting here with Dana cleave,the Director of Diversity,engagement and foundation at Walser.

Unknown: 0:07

This is Amplified, a retail automotive podcast brought to you by Reuters events and to suits you. It's time to make the most innovative voices in retail, automotive. Louder.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:25

All right, Paul,before we get into this, I just I need to make a call out to all people everywhere thinking about titles of people.

Paul Daly: 0:38

And the people who have the podcast and

Kyle Mountsier: 0:39

the people that has to task for them, please make this simpler on our lives.We have, like maybe

Paul Daly: 0:46

job titles mean something to do and like to give people an idea of what you actually do and pay attention to. And at some point in this podcast, we're going to ask Dana to say something. Yeah. So welcome to the show.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:57

Maybe Yeah,well, thanks for coming. Maybe just like lay out the as as quickly as you possibly can,what that actually means what it means to be caring for the diversity, engagement and foundation at the Walzer organization. Well,

Dayna Kleve: 1:13

yeah, thank you for having me. I appreciate that.Um, so the title is kind of a mouthful. I do see that. But I think it really it developed organically. I initially started as a Google review responder officer, so Mike, was even goofier than the one I have now.And it kind of evolved over time to social media, corporate communications, and I still do corporate communications now overseeing our our comms strategy, but but really, when we started to think about how Walzer supports diversity,communications is one in the same it's right there with it,and how we talk about our people. It's really, it's really just our people strategy. So I think you can't have that without engaging with them and being authentic with your own people. And we're really involved in our community. So foundation is part of that too.

Kyle Mountsier: 1:56

Yeah. And you guys have done a really, really unique job at caring for not just the entire people base, but also unique communities within the walls organization, talk about some of the communities that like sub communities within a larger organization that you've been able to build and grow and center efforts around.

Dayna Kleve: 2:13

Yeah, happy to. So in 2018, we kind of started our diversity work in earnest. And we really looked at it from a customer perspective. And, and I think if you run these Diversity, Equity and Inclusion circles, you hear these stats a lot, which talks about over your half of your customers at a dealership or women and 85% of the time, they're influencing,you know, the purchase of a vehicle for or a household good for me, I know that that I hear a lot. But I think for some people that can be surprising.And so for us to couch this conversation about a business need with our customers, it was a really compelling way to get into that work. And then from there, we simply asked our employees, we were really good culture of serving and pulsing our employees, what else they wanted to see and what was important to them. And from there, we formed women of Walzer, our first employee resource group, and then drive with pride focused on LGBTQIA plus employees, through education, Ally ship advocacy,and just in March, we launched our third employee resource group, which is called Asian Hmong Alliance, very high population of Asian employees that was are in so we we had a hand raiser who just said, Hey,what about us? Like, I want to do this community thing? Can we?Can we think about that, and so that, that was really all it took. And the cool thing about these groups is that they're employee led, they're employee driven, and they're fully funded. And I mean,collectively, they have an$85,000 budget, not even including the stipends that each of our board chairs get to do this work, because it is work.And at the end of the day, job comes first. We all know that.And these are incredibly committed, elevated, high propelling people that are that are, you know, making real change in our company. But they're also committed in this way to making work a place that's fun and cool. And we really believe that. I love

Kyle Mountsier: 3:49

what you call it. You said it's their employee resource groups. Yes. Right. So talk about like how that because it's clear that you're choosing words carefully, right, and your job title and the way that you're doing very intentional is everything's intentional. So talk about the intentionality around calling these Employee Resource

Dayna Kleve: 4:05

Groups. Yeah, I mean, I think it's, it's a pretty kind of, I think, when you look in the world of DNI,there's a couple different things you could call them.We've heard BRGs business resource groups, I really actually love that name, because it really implies that you're impacting business units.There's an affinity group, some people call them I think, kind of whatever, whatever you're calling them, we chose ERG, you have to approach it from a really deep place of authenticity. And for us, it wouldn't have been possible without our CHR O who came from corporate America experience and, and our very progressive CEO Andrew Walzer who said, I want to do this, but I need I need someone who knows how to take us there. And so no matter what you call them, if you don't have people from the top, we're helping to push that it's not

Paul Daly: 4:48

gonna it's not gonna happen. No. Give give us a little an overview for listeners of the size of the organization.You know, your geography, number stores and staff size.

Dayna Kleve: 4:59

Yes. We're headquartered out of Edina,Minnesota. We're 26 rooftop dealer. We primarily retail cars out of Minneapolis. And then in Wichita, Kansas, we have a luxury campus with nine stores there. And then in addition to the retail side of things, and I am specific about using the word retail, because we don't deal with one price negotiation free,one person, we also have a growing rental business out of New Mexico, Texas, Georgia and Chicago,

Paul Daly: 5:24

about how many people do you employ?

Dayna Kleve: 5:25

1900?

Paul Daly: 5:26

Yeah, so a couple just cut right? Yeah. Well, you know, so what, how long have you been in the position you're in?

Dayna Kleve: 5:33

So it's, it was a year in March that I've been in this particular position, but I've been with the group since17.

Paul Daly: 5:38

And when did these initiatives really start to take root?

Dayna Kleve: 5:42

I would say probably in 2018, when Sherry Schultz joined us, she's our Chr. Oh, and she just had tremendous out of industry experience. And that's not to say that these changes couldn't come from someone who has been born and bred in the in the auto industry, not at all, but I think she really saw the ability to enact some change in a really significant way. And I think,you know, in addition to our our ERG is I think one of the most compelling pieces about Walzer,in addition to be known as one person, one price, we're almost more known for our diversity and inclusion initiatives. And in the fact that we focus on family. We I mentioned that we post our people a lot. And when when we asked her people what's important to you, they said,family, God's Will surprisingly,may or may not and career and so we knew these were the top three most important things for our people. And and you could you could catch God's Will any way you want whatever religion right, but those are the you asked, we asked what came out?Yeah, right. That's right. So if you know that, and you gotta be willing to do something, if you know that. And so we started to develop benefits for our employees that focused on open PTO take the time, and you need the time paid family leave for paternity, maternity, and adoption for weeks paid on top of FMLA and Adapa $10,000 in fertility and adoption assistance, because we know starting a family isn't always as easy for some people. So if you want to walk the walk and go back, and to say that you don't have the money for it, you do you do? Well, we know.

Paul Daly: 7:06

Now, now she's now what would have been some of the very obvious because that is that? Well, that sounds expensive, right from the business case. But what really happens with your employment expenses and retention, when you put these things in place? What have you all seen?

Dayna Kleve: 7:24

So we track retention pretty closely and we fluctuated I mean, COVID,obviously was a big part of wrench and everything for sure.But I think you know, we are really I mean, every I think auto dealer is very metrics driven. And HR is, which is the umbrella I fall under is no different. And I think you create much more currency with your dealers and with your with your GMs, I should say, when you can speak their language. And when you are saying I have the metrics to backup, you know,that the need for our staff of35 HR professionals who are who are experts in that and, and we're not shy about having a big HR team, because we do a lot of work. So, yeah. Wow.

Paul Daly: 7:59

So So you actually,it's good for the bid. Bottom line is what you say,

Kyle Mountsier: 8:04

yeah, it's, it's like, hey, GMs feel that they go, Oh, this changes the net profitability of my business,because of the way that my people feel. Being a part of the Walzer organization, that's huge.

Dayna Kleve: 8:18

And I will say that, you know, from a director perspective, in our quarter,corporate level, we have 20,directors, half of them are female. And, you know, things ebb and flow over time for various reasons. But we're,we're proud of that stat. And I said it earlier today, but I'm a product of that I'm a product of someone who said, this is a high potential, let's focus on on her growth. And I'm really grateful for that from Google

Paul Daly: 8:39

review answer,extraordinaire.

Dayna Kleve: 8:43

To the ones with the worst, let's just be honest,those were the worst. No, you know, I think we have some work to do when it comes to our general managers. We're not quite there yet. We have one female, which is really proud of her. She has an amazing story to share. She was a hairstylist for11 years and came in and crushed it in auto sales on our luxury campus and went to sales manager and, and did the lateral moves to change brands to flex that muscle and build those shoulders. And when the time came for her to become a GM, it was a no brainer. So we have some work to do there. But you know, we're focused on him.

Kyle Mountsier: 9:16

Yeah. What is?That sounds like a work a work in progress. But what what are the works in progress right now,that is really a function of some of the research that you've been doing with your employees,and the next steps to make sure that you stay ahead and you are the employer of choice in your area?

Dayna Kleve: 9:34

That's a good question. So I think I look at it from a couple of different perspectives. So we're, we're constantly looking at, you know,what are the other kind of ERGs and we're not forming them just to form them. But I think we're,we're thinking about, you know,what else what are our employees are telling us is important. So we're in the process of focusing on a veterans group. If you look at a population of people who are primed for automotive and you look at the services that they've made to our country and and The transition to civilian life can be incredibly difficult. So we're gearing up for ways to do that, right.Another thing that our people told us was parenting was something that was really important to them. So it's not to say that that could be, but it's on our mind, who was

Paul Daly: 10:14

the sign up to work their

Kyle Mountsier: 10:18

parenting resource group, I'll take it, I know.

Dayna Kleve: 10:22

You guys are both family men, you know, that like work in the grind and having kids and in a significant other,it is tough to balance, let alone working retail hours. So I'm very empathetic to that. And then the other piece to it is that, you know, mental health has never been more prevalent in our in our society than it is today. And you consistently see claims from within our own people and just conversation or our people are struggling and COVID was just the thing that kind of took the took the layer off to showcase that. So we're exploring some pretty provocative ways to provide more mental health support for our people, whether that's on site,you know, therapy, or it's it's digital resource, or whatever that looks like, that's kind of the next gen of how we think about engagement and support for our people.

Paul Daly: 11:06

So over the next last question, over the next 12months, what are you most excited about?

Dayna Kleve: 11:14

I think, if you're talking about from a diversity perspective, where I said, I think no company is perfect, and Walzer is no exception to that.But I think we're at a place where we're, we're ready to dive in deeper to the strategy of it.And I think people can kind of throw that word around, like,but but numbers talk. And I think when you look at us using your data, and I think, you know, even for us really honing in on what that looks like. And if you look at, you know, Equal Employment Opportunity data, 70%of our employees don't self identify. So to get a real, you know, look at what our makeup is, it's tough. If you're if you're looking at that small percentage, I think for me, I'm most excited about digging in deeper to how we can be more surgical with that information and, and developing it from there.

Paul Daly: 12:00

So it sounds like you have you have a lot of the foundational pieces in place. So now you're able to actually take a more fine tooth comb and look at everything and yeah, that's exciting. That's, yeah, well,Boy, that's a great way to end this series. From our time here in Las Vegas. Anyway, I'm sure we'll continue on with this. But Dana, thank you so much for giving us some of your time and your energy and enthusiasm is definitely infectious. Thanks for having me.

Unknown: 12:23

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