June 9th, 2020
One of our values at Social Impact is Integrity. When we talk about that value, part of what we say is that “we welcome difficult conversations to ensure accountability”. Now more than ever, we need to and are ready to have those conversations about race, to hold the leaders of our country accountable and to be held accountable ourselves.
We are outraged and angered by the murder of George Floyd and countless others like him. We unequivocally condemn his killing and the pattern of violence, systemic oppression, and racial injustice that led to his horrific death. We wholeheartedly support the peaceful movement that has swept the country to advocate for the change that is so needed, and so terribly overdue. We stand firmly and resolutely with our staff who are BIPOC. And, we call on ourselves and our leaders to dismantle the systemic racism that is ingrained in our society.
However, a statement in and of itself is insufficient. We believe we must act with intention at the individual, company and industry levels to do our part to achieve lasting change. We know from our work that achieving true, meaningful and sustainable change requires a systems approach rather than a one-off intervention. Applying this approach, we plan to move forward as follows.
At the Individual Level
- Awareness Building. We believe that a big part of the change we need starts with each of us as individuals. We are organizing conversation and dialogue about the issues at the heart of the Black Lives Matter protests. We have also required implicit bias training for our staff, and intend to expand company sponsored training in other areas identified by our Anti-Racism and Equity Task Force. We have established an anti-racism resource center on our company intranet and have crowd-sourced countless resources (including books, organizations to donate to, and tools to promote action) that everyone in the company is encouraged to access.
- Mental Health Benefits. We are offering our staff additional paid time off to use as they see fit – whether that is participating in action, processing trauma, or taking a mental break from the stress associated with the last couple of weeks. We have made available a variety of mental health resources as well.
At the Company Level
- Change our Practices Where Necessary. Social Impact is an industry leader in organizational learning and adaptation, and we also challenge ourselves to change for the better. By the end of this month we will establish an Anti-Racism and Equity Task Force that will have wide latitude to propose improvements to our workplace practices including recruitment, communication, awareness building, leadership, supervision and corporate social responsibility.
- Corporate Social Responsibility. Social Impact has had a corporate social responsibility program for several years. Part of the mandate of the Task Force we are setting up will be to identify racial justice initiatives that we can support through our CSR work.
- Anti-racism and equity in the development sector. Part of our focus as practitioners of international development is to actively promote diversity and inclusion in our work with partner countries. The events of the last two weeks have brought into sharp focus how much of that work needs to happen at home as well. We stand ready to collaborate with others in the international development sector and with industry associations to move this work forward, particularly to attract more BIPOCs to our sector, and to invite and amplify the voices and analysis of BIPOCs in our work. We have ideas in mind (industry days, partnerships, etc.) and will work with our Task Force and others in the industry to flesh these out and act upon them in the coming months.
We encourage you to join this dialogue with us as we continue to learn and grow. It will take all of our collective and sustained effort to achieve the change that we seek. We can do better. We must do better.