On July 1, 2020, we released a statement reinforcing our pledge to diversity and inclusion beginning with our employees. In the seven months that passed, we are pleased to be making progress towards that pledge.
Over the summer and fall, we conducted surveys of our employees and asked for their insights as well as what they wanted to see. What we found was a vast array of opinions along with a desire from many employees to learn how they can better uphold our vision of creating a lasting, positive impact. Ultimately, we sought out an experienced facilitator to help our employees navigate the complex and often uncomfortable discussions of justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI).
Jill Hufnagel, with JHC&C Leadership Collaborative, organized and led several meetings with groups across the firm to discuss the results of our survey and collect more personal anecdotes about our firm’s position on issues of equality and justice. Following these initial discussions, we launched a voluntary JEDI challenge with the help of JHC&C Leadership Collaborative.
The contents of this program are used with permission and adapted from the Food Solutions New England’s 21-Day Habit Building Racial Equity Challenge. The structure of our challenge is that for the first week, participants are given a list of resources to watch or read each day followed by a discussion with a consistent small group. The following week, the small group has one, longer discussion with an experienced facilitator. This pattern repeats throughout the six-week duration of the program. With approximately 45 participants, each level of leadership, each region, and almost every department is represented.
“This initial group of participants represents an important step because they will become a significant nucleus to bring about learning and change within our organization,” said President and CEO Jeff Lighthiser. “Changing culture is challenging; it takes learning at all levels, it takes leading by example, it takes patience, and it takes a movement.”
Our firm is committed to leaving a lasting, positive impact on our workplaces and communities. Our core values, such as continuous improvement and respect and support, were adopted in pursuit of that goal. As our challenge winds down in mid-March, our five discussion groups will identify ways to continue this process of learning and action.
To create meaningful change, we must be deliberate and considerate. The constructs and conversations around justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion are complex, but we will continue to work towards a better understanding and a more equitable world.