Eric Haggard is Domtar’s director of diversity and inclusion.
Eric Haggard joined Domtar as the company’s first director of diversity and inclusion in June. He has impressive experience in guiding diversity and inclusion efforts that align with business objectives in a manufacturing setting.
Read on to learn about his role and vision to advance a diverse and inclusive culture at Domtar, part of the Paper Excellence Group of companies.
When in your career did you begin to focus on diversity and inclusion? Why?
My diversity and inclusion focus began more than 20 years ago as a human resources team member and the chairperson of a diversity committee. I was drawn by the opportunity to help create a more inclusive and equitable workplace for everyone. At that time, the studies validating diversity and inclusion’s impact on generating better financial and organizational results didn’t exist. But I grew up playing team sports and always understood that the team was better when everyone was valued, respected and treated fairly.
What experiences have shaped your approach to diversity and inclusion?
Most of my life experiences have shaped, and are still shaping, my approach. I routinely network with thought leaders and other professionals. I’m an avid reader and continuous learner, but the thing I get the greatest impact from is talking to and listening to people — especially those who have different opinions, perspectives and experiences than me. I’ve also worked in the human resources disciplines for more than 20 years. I have a strong passion for enabling talent to achieve personal and organizational success. Diversity and inclusion is the culmination of those disciplines.
What appealed to you about this role at Domtar?
Domtar’s culture. It’s a culture of camaraderie that values honesty, transparency and treating people with respect. People here work hard to succeed together, have strong self-awareness and the drive to continually be better for our employees and customers. Also, as Domtar celebrates its 175th anniversary and enters a new phase in its storied history, I felt the timing was perfect for me to contribute my experience and expertise to support our journey.
Diversity and inclusion have often been associated more with white-collar, professional industries and offices. How do you think the approach or practices are different for a manufacturing company?
The key for diversity and inclusion to become a core organizational competency and part of its DNA is to be inclusive at all levels when designing initiatives, regardless of the type of business or industry. It’s critically important that organizations do all they can to ensure diversity and inclusion is equally present in its field operations, not just within its salaried or office populations.
In a manufacturing company, the largest population of employees is always in the field. Hourly employees don’t often have the opportunity engage in activities or provide feedback as office employees do, and the organization loses out on the powerful contributions and support from this important segment of colleagues.
Where do you see strengths in Domtar’s culture related to diversity and inclusion?
Our core values of agility, caring and innovation align perfectly with diversity and inclusion. Having a diverse and inclusive workplace helps us work better together to respond to opportunities and challenges, be empathetic and supportive of each other, and combine our collective intellectual capability to create the industry-leading and world-class solutions our customers need.
What opportunities do you believe Domtar can act on in the near term?
Some immediate focus areas are learning, building our support infrastructure, talent processes and inclusive leadership. However, diversity and inclusion is a journey of strategically and methodically integrated actions. There are multiple pieces — some that need to happen concurrently, and others that build on each other. We will never rush to “check the box.” Instead, we’ll move with “urgent purpose” to incorporate impactful and sustainable solutions that support our culture.
Tell us more about the roadmap for diversity and inclusion at Domtar.
The roadmap for diversity will keep our organization informed on what we are currently working on, its anticipated impact to our culture, as well as what’s coming.
Today I would describe our diversity and inclusion maturity as reactionary. This is completely normal and expected — we’re early in our journey. Our goal is to grow into a progressive organization in the next three years. It’s an aggressive goal, but we have the right DNA to achieve it. The long-term goal is to become a best-in-class organization where we are recognized as a leader in promoting and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture through our performance and actions.