Reflecting on a Year of Reflection

By Stephanie Chan, Account Director

It’s been one year since SHIFT issued a statement in response to the murder of George Floyd. (I’m actually writing this on the anniversary of his death.) It’s not an easy topic to discuss, though I have been reflecting on the past 12 months. Bloomberg published a story last month on how tech companies that made BLM pledges actually became less diverse. Since reading it, I couldn’t help but wonder, how much have we done as an organization? Have we made an impact? How much did we learn? 

Our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee, comprising six SHIFTers from various offices and positions, has worked tirelessly in the background. And to be honest, our work has just scratched the surface. 

Last year, we focused heavily on awareness and education. Our D&I roadmap and activities centered around getting people used to being uncomfortable and tackling emotionally charged issues. Our entire agency went through more than eight hours of D&I training (we highly recommend LinkedIn’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging courses). We met as groups to openly talk about our personal experiences as it relates to social injustices and biases. Thousands of dollars were donated to organizations like Campaign Zero and Color of Change. We surveyed our colleagues to understand where we fall short and how we can even begin to tackle this mountain of a challenge. We joined with our sister agency Padilla to participate in panel discussions on unconscious bias and misconceptions. And one visible change is our rollout of voluntarily including pronouns in our email signatures. The keyword is voluntary here, meaning we’re OK if folks aren’t comfortable with pointing out their pronouns or simply don’t want to. 

Doing more than just reflecting 

While plans for 2021 remain primarily focused on education, we are moving toward action. We created resources for those of us who wanted to #StopAsianHate and celebrate Pride Month as the entire agency remains remote. We’ve applied to host events in the fall that focus on driving and attracting more diverse talent for the industry.  

And we’re proud to say we aren’t stopping there. Rather than setting up a diverse talent quota (which never works btw), we are working to further establish an inclusive environment that will make current and future SHIFTers feel they are valued, safe and belong. 

While the work is not always easy, we will continue to chip away at years of systemic inequities with the hope that we’ll become part of a real solution for all. 

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