Making concrete, public commitments will help give structure and accountability to the things I intend to work on.
Hi, and thanks for your interest in the YCH Anti-Racism Action Plan. This is a guiding document for the company, but I'm also making it public so you can see what I'm up to and monitor my progress.
I am a white, cis-gender, straight, upper middle class woman. All it takes for white supremacy culture to be perpetuated is for people like me to operate on auto-pilot, which I have done in many ways. I want to use what power and influence I do have to make the world more equitable and just. One way I can do that is to disrupt business as usual because our cultural defaults are set to favor whiteness.
Black lives matter. If you're a potential client, collaborator, contractor, or employee, it's expected that you share this value and are doing your own work to be inclusive and anti-racist, white people especially. Perfection is not expected; good faith efforts are.
I help clients discover and start careers that are personally meaningful, financially rewarding, allow them to bring their full selves to work, and feel at home in their work environments and roles. We can't make progress towards those goals without discussing identity, belonging, resources, opportunity, and workplace culture, all of which are affected by racism. Acknowledging internal and external barriers to fulfillment is part of the work.
In the wake of George Floyd's murder, Rachel Rogers organized a virtual town hall in which she urged small business owners to make an Anti-Racist Small Business pledge. Weeks later, I stumbled across Melyssa Griffin's Anti-Racism Action Plan, and was drawn to the idea of going from pledge to plan, from principle to practice. I wanted to create a plan specific to the needs and failings of Your Career Homecoming.
As the founder and CEO, the business cannot be more anti-racist than I am, so change starts with me. I started by asking: Where is racism showing up in me? Where is racism showing up in my business? I've taken an inventory of where and how I've failed, and made specific commitments based on where I've fallen short and where I can build on what's working.
From there, I invested in education and worked towards analysis of what needs to change, and then created the action plan. It has been peer-reviewed by my anti-racism accountability group. I've also invited feedback from past clients and will incorporate what I learn from them.
While creating the plan, I've asked:
1. Can Black people feel this effort? (h/t Rachel Rogers)
2. What feels ambitious but achievable?
3. Is it costing me and the business anything? Because if it doesn't cost anything, then it's not enough.
This is not a complete list of the resources I've consulted, but these are the ones that have been most influential in creating this plan:
•Rachel Roger's Reimagining Small Business Town Hall
•Trudi Lebron’s Show Up and Serve workshop
•Melyssa Griffin's Anti-Racism Action Plan
•The Adaway’s Group Whiteness at Work series
•Nicole Lee’s Inclusive Life Accelerator
•Trudi Lebron & Weeze Duran's That's Not How That Works podcast
•Scene On Radio's Seeing White series
•Isobel Wilkerson's book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
•I will continue to examine how whiteness works, my own privilege, and challenge what I've been taught and believe about race, racism, and power.
•I will continue reading, following, and learning from BIPOC authors, creators, and educators (about all topics, not just social justice) in my personal life.
•I will make a stronger effort to consume media content from BIPOC creators, rather than media/tv/art that only centers white voices.
•I will continue to have uncomfortable conversations in my communities if I encounter something that appears racist or biased, with the boundary that I will not argue with strangers on the internet.
•I will continue to educate my white male son about racism and anti-racism. I will openly talk about race, caste, equity, and power with him.
•I will be conscious of where my personal spending is going and purchase more goods from BIPOC-owned businesses. Websites that will facilitate this process are:
WeBuyBlack, The Black Wallet, Five Fifths, Official Black Wall Street, and Black-owned Etsy shops.
•I will put my money, vote, and volunteer efforts behind candidates and causes that include, if not center, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
•I will make equity and anti-racism priorities in the business.
•I will have written commitments and an action plan for the business.
•I will create a permanent statement that illustrates my commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism that goes on all of my external-facing documents (website, job announcements, contracts).
•I will continue to meet with my anti-racism accountability group once a week to process what we learn and hold each other accountable to our commitments.
•As part of our on-going education, this group will also read and discuss one relevant book per quarter.
•I commit to quarterly, paid, anti-racism, DEI, or social justice training for myself and any future employees, and I will choose my teachers thoughtfully.
•I commit to seeking out teachers and mentors who are Black or marginalized so that I can learn from those with different lived experiences and perspectives.
•I commit to expanding my scholarship on meaning, purpose, identity, and careers to include more Black and marginalized voices.
•My gender pronouns have been added to my Zoom name, where my clients communicate with me and each other, and I will invite clients do the same to create an inclusive environment where one’s identity can be respected and honored.
•I will update the resources and guest content within the YCH program to include at least 30% representation from BIPOC creators.
•I will uphold our community guidelines, which include a zero tolerance for prejudicial comments, including racism, ageism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and fat phobia.
•I will teach what is mine to teach; I am not an anti-racism educator. I will set and hold standards for our community, but refer to qualified anti-racism educators when resources are requested or needed.
•I will actively become acquainted with the work of more BIPOC career professionals so I can refer business to them, with the goal of having at least 50% BIPOC representation.
•In any future content I create that features guests, (podcast, events, courses, etc) the guest creators/speakers will be comprised of at least 30% BIPOC.
•I will not speak at an event or on a platform (in-person or digital) that doesn’t make a significant effort to represent BIPOC voices. If I am asked to speak at an event or platform that doesn’t represent BIPOC voices, I will educate the event host about why I am declining their offer and how they can do better.
•Contractors: I will aim to keep my internal hires to at least 30% BIPOC. At the time of this writing it is at 40%. Worth noting is that I run a very lean business, so one contractor coming or going significantly changes the percentages.
•Employees: I am currently the only employee, but if I hire in the coming year I will actively seek BIPOC candidates.
•If I do hire, I'll invest in further education about hiring and retaining diverse teams and creating a race equity culture.
•I will donate $2,500 to organizations that support the careers of Black women.
Each quarter I will pick parts of the plan to focus on, and I'll publish progress reports according the the following schedule:
• 2021 Q1: April 8, 2021
•2021 Q2: July 8, 2021
•2021 Q3: October 8, 2021
•2021 Q4: January 10, 2022
This is a living document. As I learn of more opportunities to improve it, I may update it and adjust priorities as needed.
This plan is not a complete list of opportunities for improvement. I will keep a running list of what to include in the 2022 plan, which will be published in January 2022.
I expect I will fail or mess up with some part of the application of this plan or in a situation when my own unconscious bias is exposed. When that happens, I will take time to analyze what I did wrong, get feedback from trusted teachers, and craft a meaningful apology/amends. That will take time, but I will strive to do it well rather than do it fast so that I may prevent more harm.
This work is personal, structural, and forever. I must continue to improve, the business must continue to improve, and that should never change.