Our mission as a company is to drive the success of our clients. Over the years, we’ve provided our clients with answers and guidance on a wide range of issues, from events to education, membership to marketing, strategy to execution.
But sometimes we’re asked questions to which we don’t have the answers.
In the aftermath of the horrific murder of George Floyd and the attention it has drawn to the many other victims of racism and discrimination and the overall systematic injustices around those issues, a number of our clients have reached out to us asking: “What should we do? How can we best communicate with our members and show our support? How do we effectively engage our leaders and members in meaningful conversations about race, diversity, and inclusion?”
There are no simple answers to these questions. Race relations are a global conundrum that requires real and immediate change. Here in America, it remains the unfinished business of our democracy.
There is no “playbook” for what an organization should or should not do. Within Virtual, we’ve been focused on three actions. Communications, training, and policies.
• Communications starts with listening. Later today, I’ll be hosting an informal town hall with our staff to talk about the issue and hear directly from our employees on what more we can do. It is not the first and will not be the last of these discussions.
• For training, as a first step we are providing training to all Virtual staff on unconscious bias—we know that self-awareness is critical for this issue.
• And on policies, we’re taking a fresh look at our employee recruiting and internship programs. I’m proud to be part of a company where 75% of our leadership team is comprised of women. But, I know we can do better where race is concerned and are looking at strategies on how we can address that.
Of course, for any organization, none of those efforts can take place without a foundation of clear organizational values. I can say proudly that Virtual’s core values of Trust, Respect, and Empowerment lead the way for our company as we work through these critical introspections.
At this juncture, I believe that the most important thing we can do is what we’re doing right here- raising the issue and encouraging transparent discussion and active listening. We’re not going to pretend the issue doesn’t exist. We’re going to talk about it. With our employees. With our partners. And yes, with our clients.
So as your organization wrestles with the questions that emanate from these issues, I can’t promise that we can provide you with all the answers. But I can promise you this–we’re going to listen, learn and work with you as you and your organization strive to do the right thing and contribute in a real, positive way to address this very necessary challenge for all of us.
Thanks for trusting us to help you make your mark on the world. Let’s see if we can do that where it matters most.
Andy Freed is the CEO of Virtual, Inc.Back to Knowledge Hub