Addressing Racial Injustice, Part 2
We stand in solidarity against racial injustice. We believe in inclusion, diversity, and equity. We are passionate about giving our employees the support they need, cultivating allies among our ranks, and investing in our community to make positive changes. The following is the second email sent from Burton White, Excella Co-founder and CEO, to Excella […]
We stand in solidarity against racial injustice. We believe in inclusion, diversity, and equity. We are passionate about giving our employees the support they need, cultivating allies among our ranks, and investing in our community to make positive changes.
June 12, 2020
In my email to you on June 1, I issued a call to action to join together in addressing racial injustice. Excellians have stepped up in small and large ways, in leadership and in support of each other, in learning and in action, and most importantly, in solidarity. In my email, I noted immediate learning opportunities, commitments, and actions — and that these would be just the starting point of redoubling our commitment and increasing our efforts. I am writing today with an update on our commitments, our actions, and opportunities for you to engage.
Near-term priority and focus
Because there is so much we can — and should —do within and outside of Excella, we must prioritize. Our near-term priority and focus is to give Excellians the support you need, cultivate Allies and increase inclusion among our ranks, and invest resources in our community to increase job opportunities for underrepresented groups.
- Our People Services team has established a new Racial Injustice leave that provides every Excellian 8 hours to take as needed for mental health, education, or other needs. I encourage you to use it.
- Each Executive and Senior Leader conducted open discussions with their teams to start a dialogue and to surface issues, concerns, and ideas for addressing racial injustice within or outside of Excella. Thank you for leading or participating in those very frank conversations. I ask that you continue these conversations and immediately raise any issue should one arise.
Cultivate Allies and increase inclusion
- Two of our colleagues courageously conducted a firmwide “Ask Me Anything” session centered around racial injustice in America, which over one third of Excellians attended. I am impressed by and deeply grateful to these colleagues for sharing their heartfelt and hard-hitting stories and experiences of racism. I encourage you to watch the recording if you were unable to attend.
- Our June People Pod will be co-hosted by another Excellian on the topic of Uncomfortable Conversations about Race.
- We are formalizing an Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity Ambassador (IDEA) program to be a part of Excella’s ID&E efforts. This leadership group will develop and prioritize ideas for action and be ambassadors for ID&E within and outside of Excella. People Services will send more information next week and I urge you to consider participating.
- We have engaged an outside expert to conduct seminars and workshops to develop inclusive leaders and increase inclusive behavior among all Excellians. This includes an Executive team cultural competence workshop at the end of June (which will be extended to other leaders throughout the summer), a firmwide webinar on Allyship in July, and adding Inclusive Leadership to our existing “Supervisor 101” training. These workshops will be required for leaders and strongly encouraged for all Excellians. Specific schedules will be shared soon.
- We have also engaged an ID&E expert to conduct an objective, third-party examination of our key processes, programs, and policies to identify any unconscious bias and recommend changes to eliminate it. This will also include recommendations to enhance our ID&E vision, strategy, actions and setting quantifiable goals for 2020 and beyond to establish Excella as the industry leader for hiring Black and other underrepresented professionals.
- Next week, we will release the first iteration of our Inclusion Diversity & Equity (ID&E) intranet site. The site will provide transparency on our workforce demographics, promote employee resource groups (BlaX-and-friends, Queeries, WIT), and organize articles and resources to promote learning, cultivate Allies, and increase the inclusivity of our culture.
Increase job opportunities
- We reallocated budget to double our investment into minority-related networking and career development organizations focused on tech. This includes additional minority applicant scholarships to Flatiron School and our local National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter as well as working with our previous scholarship recipients on career placement at Excella or elsewhere. We are also increasing engagement with Howard University, such as sponsoring more events like Bison Hacks. Additionally, we are increasing our sponsorship with On-Ramps to Careers and looking for opportunities to host more interns.
- Earlier this year, we reformatted our interview process to include re-training all employees who interview to reduce unconscious bias. We completed the rollout last week and will monitor results in the months ahead. We continue to increase diversity among our interviewers, so please contact People Services if you would like to become an interviewer.
We will approach this work in an Agile manner as we do our client work. We will hold periodic retrospectives to inspect and adapt and continually status these efforts through the soon-to-be-released ID&E intranet and other communications.
We have more to do to realize our vision for “rich diversity in all aspects of our business” in which everyone who encounters Excella feels “welcomed, respected, and a sense of mutual benefit.” Through this near-term focus, we are building muscles to fight racism. As with any muscles, to maintain them, we must exercise them every day and indefinitely, not just as a one-time commitment like a New Year’s resolution. As we build our muscles to fight racism, we are also strengthening our ability to fight sexism, anti-Semitism and other religious discrimination, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice and injustice that plague our country. We also increase our diversity and the inclusivity of our culture.
Thank you all for standing together, learning together, and acting together in solidarity to address racial injustice. Together, we will make Excella a better place and uplift our community in the process.