Recent days have created heavy hearts and minds. Like many others, I find myself grieving inequities and saddened by tone deaf friends and leaders. It is hard to know how to help, how to actively promote healing in our broken and hurting communities, and how to supportively step into conversations about race. Personally, I’ve been reading, watching, listening, posting messages of support, and reaching out to friends of color, friends with biracial children, and Facebook friends who seem like allies in the fight against racism. I want to help. Professionally, I’m excited by progress I see on LinkedIn and in corporate and small business messaging and advertising across the country. From a small local realtor and big box shops to sports leagues and national brands, bit-by-bit, we are at last experiencing a nationwide aha moment.
Each week, our company, TCDI, hosts virtual town hall meetings including all 90+ remote employees and last week, I listened as we welcomed new hires and discussed the business of the day. Before we wrapped, our owners hit the topic of diversity head-on. Their message — “We must do better, be better, and make tomorrow better than today. As a company, it is not enough to simply be non-racist …. we will actively be anti-racist.” And with that, several things happened.
- A company-wide initiative called Disrupt Oppression was formed and by the end of the day, each employee pledged to work actively on a team in support of Food, Housing, Education, Health Care, or Safety initiatives which address societal disparities and racism. We have budgets and regular stand-ups to set short-term goals and long-term dreams. We are accountable for reporting weekly what we are doing to make a difference.
- We’ll have paid time off to work in support of racial equality in our communities. An annual goal will be set, challenging each employee to step up and serve.
- An Awareness Team will produce webinars, podcasts and other events for company-wide distribution.
- A Book Club will recommend a book each month for all employees, hosting discussion and soliciting feedback after reading.
- Every single employee was asked to identify a non-profit organization which uplifts, informs, or advances the causes of racial and social equality – and a large donation was made on our behalf.
This last piece was exciting to me (not only because I like spending someone else’s money) but I was also able to make a quick impact locally at a pivotal time when our actions count. I was also able to share with my work family a SC cause which is near and dear to my heart — Innersole (www.Innersole.org). As I scrolled through the long list of donations, I was moved by the wide range of groups my colleagues selected. Scholarships, community education, hot showers, medical clinics, access to justice, innocence projects, food banks, homeless shelters, voting, civil rights, mentoring programs, clothing, school supplies, and exposure to STEM fields were all areas where we made an immediate financial impact and show of support in our own communities.
As a nation, we have a long road ahead and it’s up to each of us to do what we can where we live and work. I’m excited to dig in to the hard work ahead with friends and colleagues who believe it is time for meaningful action and change — and I’m thrilled that our company is using its resources to help us all be better than yesterday.