We’ve seen the disturbing videos and read the countless articles surrounding the unjust murders of Black Americans. From Breonna Taylor to George Floyd to Ahmaud Arbery to Elijah McClain and the countless additional victims of police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement has re-entered the spotlight and become the main topic of conversation. Most of us have had discussions with friends or family, but when we come to work, it’s almost expected that we shut out all outside factors and focus on our day-to-day roles. Here, however, we want to encourage having these important conversations at work, where we spend the majority of our time.
Our Diversity & Inclusion group has taken on the responsibility to brainstorm how we can begin talking about this movement together, as an organization. Being in a virtual environment can be tough and leave us feeling disconnected, but we instead are choosing to embrace this time to engage in meaningful discussions that would help us to feel closer than ever. D&I Dialogues were born in order to facilitate purposeful conversation and to encourage ‘Coders to be comfortable bringing our full selves to work each day.
D&I DIALOGUE SESSIONS
Each month, we have a different ‘Coder moderate the conversation. This month, Account Management Director, Derrick Dalrymple, volunteered to guide the conversation. “With all of the political unrest in the country, I was really interested in hearing what my fellow coworkers thought of the current climate. I have friends from many different backgrounds and they all want to be effective allies but they don’t know exactly how to contribute,” Dalrymple shared of why he was interested in moderating the conversation.
The D&I Dialogue sessions begin with setting ground rules. We want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and knows that this is a safe space to share. In addition, to avoid overlap, we ask that everyone keeps their sound on mute and they unmute themselves once they're ready to speak. Lastly, we emphasize that it is okay to not say all of the “right things”. That’s why we have these sessions — to learn from each other and to share our thoughts. It’s important to note that the Dialogues are meant to be open conversations, not teaching sessions. All of us are required to self-educate and do research on our own.
BEING AN EFFECTIVE ALLY
With that, we begin the conversation. Our most recent dialogue was on the topic of “Being an Effective Ally”. Dalrymple moderated the discussion by posing the following questions:
We asked a few ‘Coders who attended what they thought of the discussion and here’s what they had to say:
Do you feel like you gained a better understanding of your coworkers after participating in the conversation?
“100%! It’s very difficult to be virtual right now and I love attending D&I [Dialogue] sessions because I get to know my coworkers on a more personal level. I also don’t think many companies offer opportunities to talk about diversity issues and I couldn’t imagine working for a company where it felt uncomfortable to talk about [these] topics.” - Karie Casper, Senior Client Strategist
What is one thing you took away from the conversation?
“The biggest insight was learning about the conversations that my coworkers have had with their older family members, who may have grown up in a different time. It was eye opening to learn that some older members of our community hold on to a lot of stereotypes, and it's hard for them to view people in the current day outside of their learned prejudice. However, I was encouraged to learn that my coworkers don’t share the same views as their older counterparts and actually have the difficult conversations about race with their families. I don’t believe people are born prejudiced, but rather that it is taught, so it's great to see that my coworkers are pushing against old and hurtful stereotypes.” - Derrick Dalrymple, Account Management Director
“It made me feel more comfortable talking about my own experiences and feeling like what has led to my personal point of view when it comes to being an ally isn't ignorant or stupid, it just means I have more opportunities to listen, learn, and get better with my approach.” - Rachel Nasatka, People Operations Business Partner.
Right now, we are all learning and self-educating, specifically about race and our relationship with systemic oppression that has been prevalent since the founding of this country. While the Black Lives Matter movement has shifted to the forefront of our consciousness, we can’t stop here. We must continue talking with our coworkers and ensuring that there are strides made that help our workforce look more like the world around us. We must have tough internal discussions and pose questions like “Am I actively upholding the system of white supremacy?” or “Am I being used to actively uphold the system of white supremacy?”. The work starts here to become committed to learning, unlearning, and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Our D&I team has shared a list of resources that provide a few places to start.