By: Karen Tracey KAREN TRACEY Sustainability Mar 22, 2017 Our Commitment as an Ally: Tackling Diversity & Inclusion at TIS On March 15, TIS celebrated our first "B" day—the 1-year anniversary of becoming a certified B Corporation! Earning our B Corp certification was truly the first step into a world of commitment to the triple bottom line business philosophy: people, planet and profit. In our first year as a certified B Corp, we implemented a lot of practices around environmental sustainability and have seen some excellent results—although there's always room for growth! This year, we're tackling two incredibly relevant and important topics that must be addressed in businesses across the country, but especially here in Grand Rapids: Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Working Toward More D&I in the Workplace On Friday, March 17, the TIS team and I spent one of the best 4 hours of my career. In partnership with our talented client and vendor Event Garde, we organized a half-day workshop on diversity and inclusion with the goal to leave the workshop with a plan and action items on how to increase our D&I practices at TIS. One Color Does Not Fit All In both our personal and professional lives, the TIS team has been investing our time in advancing equity in our community—even more so over the last couple years. Since Rob and I became Baxter residents 20 years ago, I quickly came to understand that our community isn’t one-color or one-size-fits-all. How I've engaged in action around that in my personal life is what has been evolving for the better over time. Now, it's time to shift more of that focus into the professional setting. Stepping Out of Comfort Zones The first step to working toward more diverse and inclusive practices in the workplace is stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to see things from a different perspective, without judging that perspective. We all offer something unique to bring to the table, and it was so powerful for me when I realized that the more diverse the perspectives, the more valuable the discussion… the work… and our collective success. Equity Networking Grows into Equity Action A couple years ago, both Rob and I joined the leadership team for Equity Drinks. As an ally for ED, we have helped promote and organize ED events and have enjoyed watching this community grow exponentially over the years. And beyond growth in numbers, the growth in action has been impressive: Equity Drinks has held many community events including the powerful How We Grow panel at Wealthy Theatre last year in collaboration with BL²END, OutPro and The Salon. ED created an initiative that formed into Equity PAC—a local political action committee of nearly 200 members whose mission is to increase the number of equity-minded officials, policies and practices in Michigan. This week GRPD hired its most diverse class of police officers in its history. And there’s so much more to come. B Corp and Diversity & Inclusion Since becoming a B Corp, we chose to take the B Corp Diversity & Inclusion Challenge this year. The timing was perfect for us as we were looking for ways to increase our D&I and help advance the openness to equity in our office. We took on the following in the challenge: Create a written policy showing preference to underrepresented suppliers Worker training content on inclusion of diversity issues Ongoing education for staff We wanted to set goals for ourselves around these items, and we figured the workshop would be a great way to get this moving. With the help of Aaron Wolowiec and the Event Garde team, the whole TIS team was able to effectively provide input and perspective into the process. We discovered that we actually are committing to more than just these 3 target areas, and have 90-day work plans that we started in the workshop to hit targets for each initiative, including implementing more inclusive hiring pratices, diversifying our volunteer program, etc. Our initiatives include the following: Establish a mentorship program for marginalized youth in design/development and college students in marketing/branding Document our D&I Policies Assess and report on our D&I advancements Intentional learning & networking to advance our equity Establish inclusive hiring practices Ensure diversity in our volunteer program We are excited about meeting our goals around these initiatives and look forward to reporting back on our progress. I’d love to hear about the ripples you've created in the equity movement whether in your company or personally. Share with us below!