An Introspective on Black Lives Matter and Our Commitment to Change
Authored by Tasso Argyros
The past few weeks have been a time of reflection and action as it relates to the experience of Black people in America. Like so many others, at ActionIQ we heard the call to action and have been taking a hard look at our internal workings to get an understanding of what we need to do differently as an organization to ensure we are creating an environment that is inclusive and equitable for our current and future Black employees.
We believe that companies are uniquely positioned to affect change in our society. At AIQ, we say this directly: we stand with our Black employees, families, friends, neighbors, Americans, and human beings everywhere in the struggle for equality, and we denounce racism in all forms. We are early in our own journey and we are striving and committed to being part of the solution.
In the wake of the protests, our first actions were aimed internally. First and foremost, we wanted to ensure we were doing the best we could to support our people, especially our Black employees, and rally everyone else to be allies. We let our employees know where we stood with an internal message – there could be no questions about this. In recognizing that as individuals we may each be having different experiences, we urged folks to take time away from work if needed. We kicked off a conversation series, which the whole company is invited to, in order to provide a safe space to have direct, difficult conversations about race and inclusion at AIQ and externally.
At the end of our first conversation, we asked attendees what they would like to see us do differently as a company. The answers were clear: our employees want us to continue to be focused on this. They want to see us weave inclusion and equity into the fabric of our culture and organization and are pushing us to look further to effect change in the company and our society at large. Answers ranged from getting involved with education and volunteering initiatives in primarily Black communities, to looking at the schools we might give preference to during the recruiting process and changing that, to educating ourselves on how to be allies and anti-racist.
The issues at hand have prompted us to revisit our Inclusion & Diversity roadmap. More specifically, here are the actions we are committed to taking in the very near future:
Conduct an inclusion audit of our internal practices. Instead of a traditional audit done by a single group/person, we will be turning the components of the audit into an employee survey to ensure we are hearing directly from employees in terms of where we need to focus. This will enable us to develop an actionable medium and long term plan.
We’ll be hosting monthly Inclusion and Equity Talks to continue safe space conversations and inspire learning and motivation in our team members to take action against racism and other forms of discrimination.
Host facilitated small group discussions with managers – we believe managers and leaders are our highest leverage group in enacting lasting change inside the company. The work on the inclusion and equity journey is hard and is also personal so we want to ensure we have spaces for our managers to come together to learn, grow, and share their experiences.
Scheduling sessions with external facilitators to discuss diversity dynamics and how to intervene.
I’m also happy to share that we have instituted a charitable matching program for employees to donate to a range of charities dedicated to the fight for equality and justice.
The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and now Rayshard Brooks, and the protests they’ve ignited have laid bare the foundation of a system with deep racist underpinnings. Those of us who have had to live these experiences know that this conversation in our country and our world is not a new one; but at the moment, it is louder than it has been for some time. The onus is on all of us to ensure that this movement inspires meaningful, lasting change.
In the words of Ijeoma Oluo, “When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.” At ActionIQ, we are committed to examining the privilege that exists within the constructs of our organization, dismantling it, and continuing to strive towards building an inclusive and equitable culture.