After a number of days of very important and somber, but also hopeful and inspiring discussions, prompted by Shannon, a black team member at Creative Alignments, we decided that the best way to make a public statement in solidarity with Black Lives Matter–and in response to the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor–was to simply share the Slack message that our CEO, Peggy Shell, sent last week to our team internally. We’re sharing it in its essentially original form (only names and contextual changes made) because we believe it both conveys the larger spirit in uniting behind the peaceful protestors working to effect real progress, and because it provides transparent insight into what our firm can do in our own sphere to help bring about positive change. Our firm’s entire ethos is about alignment of people and we have a zero tolerance for racism. Never has there been a more important time in recent U.S. and global history to seize the moment in the march toward true societal equality and human alignment. R.I.P. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“First off, for those who have not read what Shannon wrote about anti-racism and the recent tragedy with George Floyd, I invite you to do so now. Shannon, I want to thank and commend you for having the courage to share this in such an important, balanced and provocative way. I heard you and I know many others did as well. You lit a spark in me that has led to more meaningful, action-oriented conversations about the role that I, and Creative Alignments, play in helping to create change around the topic of racism than I have ever had before. And I know you prompted the same in many others as well.
Before I share the ways in which I have been moved to create change, I want to state that what happened to George Floyd is deeply disturbing. While most police officers stand for justice and protecting all citizens in our nation, what these officers did is unspeakable; and it continues a tragic pattern that we, as a society, should be well-past. This pattern in U.S. policing has reached a breaking point and can no longer be denied. It cannot be accepted and change is required.
We have been working to put together the right public “statement”. I put statement in quotes as we don’t want it to be a shallow, baseless, “for PR-purposes-only” comment. We want it to be about a commitment, about real changes that we help bring about. What can we do to contribute to progress in our own sphere?
Everyone is in a position to do something to try to continue to make progress against racism. While Creative Alignments isn’t in a position to affect necessary change within police practices, training, equipment etc. that ensures that this happens far less, we can do our part. But what is it that we CAN commit to as an organization? I feel compelled to be clearer on that because, without a genuine commitment, what’s the point of a statement at all?
We put together a “task force” a couple of weeks ago, in fact, to help determine just this: “What is our role as a recruiting resource for our clients in promoting diversity recruiting in their organizations?” On one hand, we are being hired to find the people they wish to seek. And because of our hourly model and our innate desire to please, we are motivated to present the first X # of qualified people we find. Does this enhance the probability for a diverse candidate pool of finalists for our clients? Probably not.
Also, the fact that our main external sourcing tool, while an excellent tool, can lead to unconscious bias. We first see the names of the candidates and often the photos of what they look like, both of which naturally come into play when we determine whether they are fit for our clients.
Add to that, the lack of diversity in the total population of those residing in the locations and working in the industries for which most of our reqs are based, we have a real recipe for doing little to further the mission towards diversity hiring.
So, should we say “Oh well. We’re stuck.”? Definitely not. Now more than ever, I am motivated to challenge these assumptions and/or create change in other ways. Some initial thoughts include:
1) Doing better to more often remove unconscious bias from our sourcing process. We have a sourcing tool that has a “blind sourcing” component. We should be using it.
2) Challenge our clients to think more about remote workforces, especially now that the global grand experiment of remote working has revealed many ways in which it is highly effective and even preferable in some cases. If we are released from the constraints of geography, the talent pool widens significantly and we can move diversity up in our sourcing objectives.
3) Provide paid consulting services to our clients on ways, such as the above, that they can improve their diversity and inclusion-focused hiring practices and employment brand (+ live by it!).
4) And DEFINITELY take all of the above into consideration in the future, when growing the Creative Alignments’ team.
The task force will be presenting more on this soon; this is just a bit of what has been going on behind the scenes here. I realized that unless you were on calls with me, you may not have known all that was being done and thought about. But it’s real. And as I said, Shannon, thank you for helping to encourage such important forward progress. More to come.
For now, I’ll end by saying how fortunate and grateful I feel to be surrounded by such amazingly kind and caring human beings as you all. Thank you.”
Creative Alignments founder and CEO
Peggy, love your genuine words. You are a great leader. Thank you, Shannon, for having the courage.