An anti-racist organization might start with a public statement, but it does not stop there. A commitment to change is a long-term commitment to self-analysis, education, and action. We have historically identified two ways we can become an increasingly anti-racist organization. One, we can work on ourselves to ensure our policies and governance attract, support, and promote people of color. And, two, we can offer our work Pro Bono to nonprofit organizations working to remove systemic barriers to people of color.
The external work has been a success. The internal work has been a massive shift that is frustratingly slow to show meaningful results. And, we are impatient as hell. We are starting three new practices to support and push the work we have been doing.
You cannot participate in dismantling an oppressive system until you acknowledge how you have benefitted from the system. We are hosting a series of company-wide writing sessions guided by our Language Director and selected articles. In this, we will outline the ways we have benefited over others. Then, we can appreciate what we have and turn that appreciation into a desire to allow others equity.
It is good to be introspective, but that has to be backed up by knowledge. We are also reading two books together. These books will help us better understand the perspectives of people of color. They will give us a shared vocabulary. And, they will help us better understand why we need to talk about education, food access, prison reform, and others when we talk about systemic racism. We are reading: So You Want to Talk about Race, by Ijeoma Oluo and How to Be an Anti-racist, by Ibram X. Kendi.
LISTENING + ACTION
The economic downturn resulting from the pandemic has disproportionately affected businesses owned by people of color. As a business-to-business brand consulting company, we are uniquely qualified to serve this group of people. We are working with local entrepreneurial incubators to listen to Black founders. We are not prescribing a solution, but are listening for opportunities to lend our expertise.
Starting a little over three years ago as we prepared to become a B Corp, we rethought our policies and governance. This is very difficult to prioritize as your small business is growing, and there are a thousand more pressing problems. However, using the B Corp framework, we were able to start a systematic overhaul of how we attract talent, how we manage ourselves, and how we operate the business transparently.
We are continuing this work. For example, we realized that while we have a good process for attracting a diverse talent pool for new hires, we don’t have a similar process for interns. This is a problem because beginning as an intern is the most common way people start working at Bullhorn. We are addressing that now by re-analyzing our HR policies.
Our work, in general, is magnified by the good work our clients do. This is more true of our Pro Bono clients. Western Middle School is dramatically changing student outcomes by focusing their curriculum on the arts in a school that is 70% students of color. The Opposite Shop is providing literacy training to the poorest school districts in Louisville. Their students are disproportionately students of color. There is a similar story with Common Good in Lexington.
We provide focus to our Pro Bono work using three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger, quality education, and gender equality. By focusing on those, we join organizations across the world to work on our most complex problems. And, while our Pro Bono work is in a global context, our clients work locally. Because that is where we can have the biggest impact.