WATCH & LISTEN: A Local Woman's Fight for Diversity
Raychel Yokem is the human resource business partner at Horace Mann. Her job includes working with the executives in making decisions to help them make their goals.
“I help the executive leaders think about the decisions are making and I try to consult them on how to make the best choice, not only for the business but for the people that work there,” said Yokem.
Even though she helps make those decisions now, Yokem didn’t always know she wanted to be in this career.
“I went to school at Illinois State and worked at State Farm and that’s how I kind of got my foot in the door at the insurance industry. Over time, I think I realized that I really love training and leadership development and that lead me to human resources. So, it was a journey. I thought I would be a teacher, and I taught for three months and I never went back. I think we all have those moments where you’re not sure, but once I went into human resources I knew it was a fit,” said Yokem.
As HR business partner at Horace Mann, she strives to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Some of the things that I do are the activities that we do. Like an unconscious bias training to help our employees have a better understanding of some natural things that are going to create judgement and bias in everyone. We get to have a community week next week in which we’re having some people from the community come and talk about the major topics in diversity such as age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Topics you think you wouldn’t normally talk about at work. But they really do impact the decisions we make at the job and how we treat people around us. It’s important that we always try to constantly evolve and understand people and meet them where they are,” said Yokem.
Yokem is also a part of Illinois Women in Leadership, an organization that focuses on women and their push toward respect and equality.
“It could be anything, as just getting to know the people that live in your community and live around you. It could be moving up in your job, it could be taking on more volunteer opportunities. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, that organization, we can support you in getting there,” Yokem said. “I think it’s just a powerful organization that’s inspiring women in this community to move up and move on.”
She believes so much in the organization, she agreed to take on a leadership role.
“I’m the registration chair, so I’m the person who works on checking in people to our monthly luncheons. So that’s my main responsibility. We have a number of chairs in our organization, ones that specifically work on Athena awards, and ones that work on sponsorship. So, in Illinois Women in leadership, my focus is just mainly on registration, making sure that I create a good experience for our new members that come in as well,” said Yokem.
This year, Yokem was included in Springfield’s Forty Under Forty List, which recognizes those who have made significant achievments in their comunity.
“You know, I think the immediate reaction was gratitude. I was grateful that people recognize my efforts outside of work and in work. I really have a passion for Springfield, I was raised here, I love this community. I think we have a lot of diversity, equity, and inclusion gaps that we need to fix, so the fact that I’m trying to serve on boards and trying to take part in creating diversity on some nonprofit boards, I was happy that it was recognized by the Springfield Business Journal. So, I felt grateful and humbled, and just, proud, too,” Yokem said.
Yokem emphasized the importance of including people of different backgrounds and cultures to create a better, happier place to live.
“We just want it to be a fun place. So, fun means all cultures, and all ideas. So from any religion you can think of, from the Christian to the Muslim, any sexual orientation group, or however people prefer to be represented. We want all of those things happening in downtown Springfield and around our community attending those events and creating this to be a fun, inclusive environment. So, you know, we want it to be a great experience for everybody,” said Yokem.