The Pledge in Review
In the summer of 2020, we asked businesses and organizations throughout the region to join the effort to promote equity and inclusivity by taking a leadership pledge to address systemic racism.
Over 160 responded. We followed up with three to learn their plans to uphold the Leadership Pledge in 2021.
In 2021, Startup Junkie plans to build out programming specifically designed to celebrate, educate, and empower minority-owned businesses. They are committed to removing barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
Transparency is also key -- to keep their broader team in the loop on the shifts & to keep equity top-of-mind as they make their world-class retail execution software. In 2021, with intentionality & awareness in every step, they hope to see Movista grow -- both as a richly diverse & as a deeply inclusive team of people.
Leadership Pledge Signers
Direction Toward Change
In the famous words of John Lewis,
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
In light of recent events surrounding the BLM movement, we felt compelled to make a stand and increase awareness around equity and inclusion. The Leadership Pledge was a perfect opportunity to elevate the conversation and commitment to social justice in our workplace.
While we learned a lot of important lessons that instigated valuable discussion and action within our organization, our largest takeaway is that we must listen and be intentional with our actions. It's imperative we create an environment where every voice is heard and respected.
We also learned the importance of being intentional and plan in 2021 to build out programming specifically designed to celebrate, educate, and empower minority-owned businesses. We are committed to removing barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
This is a complex issue without a simple solution. It will take time, but it is our responsibility, as business leaders, to look within ourselves and the values of our organization and not lose sight of the necessary steps we must take each day to live out our commitment to social justice.
JACOB MCCONNELL | WESCHE COMPANY
Believing that racism has played a historical role in our country and that it currently plays a role in denying equitable opportunities for people of color, we wanted to sign the pledge as a way of saying we believe Northwest Arkansas must be a more equitable place and that we as a small business play a role in providing
that equality. We also believe that the pledge will help hold us accountable to what we say is important.
Through the opportunities that I’ve had with the Northwest Arkansas Regional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Business Cohort and the Let’s Talk About Integrity and Race workshops, I’ve learned that even though there is a large network of people interested in creating a more equitable area, there is so much work to be done. While a large group of leaders and companies have pledged to create change, the important part of creating actual change is what’s now required.
With our work as a part of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Business Cohort, we are working on developing a DEI Plan to implement at our company. Once that plan is finalized, we plan on implementing it throughout the organization to create a company that is not only more diverse and inclusive, but is also more equitable.
I’m hopeful and excited by the number and scope of companies that have signed the pledge and have shown interest in some of the other DEI opportunities that have been offered in the past months. I hope we can work together to now do the harder part of the work. I saw research that companies who signed the Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation from Business Roundtable in 2019 ended up doing the opposite and actually were more likely to prioritize profits compared to companies who didn’t sign the pledge.
The research found that companies felt like they did a good thing by signing the pledge, and they, therefore, justified their actions that had an opposite effect of the pledge. I hope this pledge doesn’t follow a similar pattern, and that companies (Wesche included) will follow through on work that creates a more equitable society, even when those changes push up against current power structures.
As a member of the NWA Council, our CSO & co-founder, April Seggebruch, was quick to acknowledge Movista’s interest in jumping on board to be a leader in our community at the conception of the Leadership Pledge. She started conversations with some leaders in the company & our Culture Team to gain momentum, and everyone agreed that attention needed to be paid & change needed to be made at Movista.
Since signing the Leadership Pledge, our team has learned that ignorance is actually not “bliss” for everyone. Ignorance in the workplace can easily, quickly & harshly affect black people & people of color -- ignorance of potential pay inequality, ignorance of unintentional microaggressions, ignorance of potentially disparate opportunities for advancement, etc. We’ve learned that time is up for feigning ignorance. We’re beginning to closely examine everything: our processes, our unconscious biases, our recruiting efforts, our conversations -- all of it -- and make choices from a place of awareness, instead.
In addition to ongoing & meticulous audits of our recruitment, hiring, retention & development status quos behind-the-scenes, we’re working toward engaging with race on our team “out loud.” As one example, we’ve added Racial Equity as a pillar of what our Culture Team focuses on monthly -- meaning the encouragement of employee engagement around the topic in a variety of ways (e.g. POC authors highlighted in our book club).
Transparency is also key -- to keep our broader team in the loop on the shifts & to keep equity top-of-mind as we make our world-class retail execution software. In 2021, with intentionality & awareness in every step, we hope to see Movista grow -- both as a richly diverse & as a deeply inclusive team of people.