WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
We’re all in this together.
“The B Corp movement is one of the most important of our lifetime, built on the simple fact that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders—it has an equal responsibility to the community and to the planet.” – Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia
A few months ago, we had the pleasure of attending a breakfast meet-up with senior leaders from some of our fellow Canadian B Corporations. B Corporations are part of a growing global movement that uses business as a force for good™. Back in October, we became a Certified B Corp, meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency set out by non-profit organization B Lab.
The B Corp breakfast was a wonderful opportunity to network, share ideas, and discuss best practices regarding one of the most important global issues of our time: Inclusion.
B Corp started its Inclusion Challenge with a simple, yet lofty goal: To improve our collective impact and take action toward a more inclusive economy. Our first order of business at the breakfast was to brainstorm solutions for the following topics:
• Personal education about allyship, diversity, and inclusion issues
• Championing diversity and inclusion as an ally
• Acknowledging and discussing privilege
• Acknowledging cultural tragedies and holidays that are relevant to our community of stakeholders
• Using positional power to support individuals from underrepresented populations in the workplace
• Taking actions to prevent workplace discrimination, bias, and microaggressions
This was a delightful opportunity to sit down and dedicate 90 minutes of our time to a focused consideration of these topics. After some contemplation, we came up with some strategies that might be enacted in the workplace to address these topics. Next, we reviewed the responses of our colleagues and layered in any challenges or opportunities that may result from their suggestions. Once this silent portion of the brainstorm was finished, we broke out into small groups, each having a more in-depth discussion on an inclusion topic that resonated with us.
Some of the questions/comments that came out of the group discussion were:
- Does there need to be a business case for companies to focus on diversity and inclusion or should they simply do it because it’s the right thing to do?
- Sometimes there is an unintended bias that can be pervasive because of a dominant group in the workplace and their way of working.
- Certain professions can be dominated by certain genders and ethnicities, creating a lack of diversity within work groups, even in companies that are diverse.
- In non-diverse organizations, there may not be a champion to identify the lack of diversity.
- How can we communicate diversity to external audiences outside of our organization while still remaining conscious of cultural and ethnic sensitivities?
There were some great ideas that arose from the conversation that could be implemented here at Ramp. It was also perfect timing as we were in the process of setting up our B Corporation Inclusion Challenge goals for 2017.
My biggest take away from the thought-provoking discussion was the recognition that as advertisers and marketers we have the responsibility to try and shift attitudes around diversity and inclusion in the work that we deliver.
Do we use inclusive language in our copywriting? Are we mindful of potential symbolism in design that may be offensive to some cultures? As Canadians, how can we best celebrate aboriginal culture and indigenous citizens in our work? We are going to seek out some experts on this topic in 2017 to visit our office and share their knowledge with our team. If you know somebody who specializes in this, please drop us a comment!
After the event, we came back to the Ramp office and brainstormed ideas that could make our workplace more inclusive. We thought about providing opportunities for flex-days on culturally significant events that may not be recognized as statutory holidays.
Another item we’ve started to implement during our regular ‘lunch & learn’ is adding a cultural learning moment before each presentation. Each month, one person will share something educational about a culture or community of their choice. This helps us learn and grow as we also focus on making the world a more diverse and inclusive place through our business practices.
Why is building a company culture of inclusion so important to us?
A recent open letter to business leaders from the B Corporation community said it best:
In the current environment of rising insecurity, fear, hate speech, and violence, and in the absence of trust in our economic system, all business leaders have an unprecedented responsibility, and opportunity to build a more inclusive society.
What is your workplace doing to promote inclusivity?