Like you, we are having heart-prying, honest conversations in the wake of the traumatic events of the past few weeks. We hear the resounding rallying cry to do more and be more in the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. We are taking a look at the painful truths about systemic racism and inequities in our country and reflecting on our opportunities to embody, influence, and sustain change.
It’s helpful and grounding to revisit Our Commitment—the shared beliefs that guide our work—as we grieve, process, and plan.
We lead off by saying that we resolve to make a difference, to help people feel connected to a bigger purpose, to focus on what it takes to move forward, to leave things better than how we found them.
These core beliefs point us toward action and change. We are asking ourselves:
- What do we want equity to mean in how we operate and what we do?
- What does equity look like? How do we define it?
- What actions do we want to take going forward?
- What kinds of changes do we need to make to continue to live true to our values as an organization and be change agents within our client companies?
We also commit to building rewarding relationships and being respectful communicators. We strive to be caring and compassionate. We work to actively listen and meet others where they are. We try to ask good questions to make sure we understand.
This is a time when active listening in particular takes on great urgency. We re-commit to making more space to do this—with each other, with our clients, with our community. There are many tough questions to be asked, of our systems and of ourselves. We will be asking those questions, extending our learning, and really listening to enrich our understanding and our perspective.
The next sections in Our Commitment get a little trickier, because they focus on recommending with confidence and reinforcing what strategic, successful HR looks like, and here we simply have to acknowledge that this is a period of profound transformation, and we don’t have all the answers. We can’t promise best practices or simple solutions tomorrow, but we can promise to be open to new tools and resources, to deepen and draw from our collective experience, to have honest conversations, and to share what we learn for the benefit of all.
Our team book club pick for this quarter was The Good Fight, which focuses on conflict as the ultimate opportunity to become closer. It challenges us to think of conflict debt like credit card debt. If you don’t deal with the debt, it just keeps mounting. If you don’t deal with conflict, it also grows. Productive, healthy conflict is going to be an honest part of the work ahead of us.
This leads us to the last two lines in Our Commitment, which feel more relevant than ever.
We’re not afraid to have tough conversations.
We are comfortable with discomfort and receptive to change.
In that spirit, we re-commit to increasing our exposure to experiences outside of our normal experiences. To thinking more deeply about empathy, advocacy, and how best to uplift our community. We will keep learning and sharing. It’s a process. This work is integral to who we are and who we aspire to be. We recognize that we will make mistakes along the way, but that will not dissuade us from trying our best. Avoiding what’s uncomfortable won’t change it. Bravery, and commitment, will.
In times of protest and turmoil, there can be a proclivity to “move on” rather than staying present and open-minded. But these times have a lot to teach us. We all need to pay attention, go deeper, ask, truly listen, and look anew with compassion. It’s painful work, but on the other side is the potential for a new era of connection. The expectations of employees in today’s workplace—even the definition of the modern workplace—are changing. It’s daunting, but it’s exciting and energizing.
We are all many voices of one community, and what happens to one of us affects us all. We need to step into that truth with compassion. And you are a part of that community. So we ask:
- What do you want us to learn, go deeper on, or get better at?
- What can we do to help you?
- What can we do for you right now? And after that? And after that?
The work we’re doing may be but a pebble in a pond, but pebbles create ripples, and we’re being intentional about the ripples we want and have the opportunity to make. We re-commit to listening and responding. So please reach out. Share your thoughts, your questions, your intentions. We’d love to learn from you.