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One Year Later: A Commitment to Act, Not React

Remembering and Honoring George Floyd

George Floyd Memorial Mural in Milwaukee, WI

One year ago, as the US death toll was about to total over 100,000 people due to COVID-19, and so many of us were stuck at home, another life-changing event was about to take place. On the evening of May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN, George Floyd was arrested and murdered by a police officer, Derek Chauvin. And the tragic 8 minutes and 46 seconds of his murder was caught on video by a teenager. That video quickly went viral, and the world erupted – a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, protesters hitting the streets in every major city across the globe, black squares, as well as statements of solidarity and commitments to diversity, showed up all over social media. Many steps forward to a more just society were taken and while a lot has changed in a year, it still feels that there is endless work to do.

We think it’s important to share how the different events of 2020 affected us as a company. Like many, our work had been put on an indefinite pause due to COVID-19. We were told that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) was a non-essential focus by corporate leaders. We wondered, like many companies, if Colorful Connections would survive. However, that changed just one week after the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests that emerged. Colorful Connections suddenly became relevant again. And we were not the only ones. According to Glassdoor, DEI job openings fell 60% between March 2 and June 8 (twice as fast as other jobs). After June 8, they bounced back by 55% in just a four-week period.

This renewed focus on DEI was reactionary. One year later, however, we hope leaders understand that this work cannot and should not be done from a reactionary perspective. For now, many companies seem to be keeping up with their commitments, but as businesses and cities start to reopen, and our attention becomes divided, will this important work fall on the back-burner again? We certainly hope not. As there is no stopping point when it comes to ensuring everyone has equitable opportunities and feels comfortable at work.

Call to Action

One year later, we’re asking you to take a moment to reflect – what was the commitment you made last year and how far have you come? Don’t be judgmental but be honest. Where were you on your DEI journey a year ago and where are you today? And where do you want to be a year from today?

And for corporations, we are making a call to action for your transparency! We encourage you to publish your DEI numbers and goals – whether it be on your social media or website. It is easy to make internal goals but publicizing commitments will help you with accountability. One example that we really like is from Adobe; they have dedicated Diversity and Inclusion webpages sharing what they believe, their strategies, goals and commitments, as well as their data on diversity. We urge more companies to evaluate and invest in meaningful DEI plans, and then take it a step further by making it public.

Be Kind and Build Empathy

Lastly, we want to remind everyone to be kind to one another and continue to build empathy by listening and holding space for people to share their experiences and stories. While we have seen some progress to limit police brutality at local levels and companies take a more serious stance on anti-racism, the violence against all BIPOC communities has not ceased. The trauma that has happened in just this last year, is not to be taken lightly as it is weighing on so many people -- whether they choose to bring it up or not. Let us all lead with generosity and kindness to remember we are in this together.

“Ending racism is not a finish line that we will cross. It’s a road we’ll travel.” Emmanuel Acho

Written by Katie Avila Loughmiller

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