How One B Corp Plans to Advance Anti-Racism Work in Its Operations and in the Sustainable Building Industry
To our B Corp community,
Silence is complicity. Companies, as groups of people, need to stand up for human rights — as Certified B Corporation leaders, we can all agree with this statement. Our company stands for Black Lives Matter, equality, and social justice.
We will use our platform for positive change. Again, we think it’s important not just to show solidarity, but to also share the actions that we are taking at Verdical Group.
We’re at the beginning of our journey, but we hope that the following can be used as a reference for fellow B Corps and other companies that are in the process of solidifying next steps. We are nowhere near perfect, we’re learning as we go and will make mistakes, and there will be much more that we can do in the future. We welcome any feedback you may have and invite you to comment below or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Call to Action
You may have seen that Verdical Group issued a call to action, in this post from Founder and Principal Drew Shula, for organizations in the sustainability space to voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and share their commitment to anti-racism within our community. And we’ve seen many organizations do just that. At the same time, we understand that it’s important to back up our statement of solidarity with concrete and immediate actions. We see this as happening in three parts:
Acknowledging that the system is broken and that we need to listen to more people more often and take it upon ourselves to become better educated about systemic racism, police brutality, and the life experiences of people of color living in America.
What we’re doing to support protests, protestors, and Black Americans in this historic moment.
Implementing policies for our employees, events, and projects that will ensure long-term, sustainable impact outside of the current moment.
We hope others in the sustainability world will follow suit in being part of the solution. We know the sustainability industry has an incredible diversity problem and is far too homogeneous. Data is lacking, but to take one example from our Net Zero Conference: Of all speakers who submitted abstracts, only roughly one-tenth of 1% (0.01%) self-identified as Black or African American. Verdical Group is committed to actively working to change this through anti-racism policies, outlined below, that positively impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our company and throughout our industry. We felt it was important to make a statement now but do not believe this to be comprehensive — know that we are open to feedback and intend to continue listening, continue learning, and continue encouraging conversation within both our company and our industry.
Businesses typically remain neutral on issues in an attempt to sell to both sides, but Verdical Group has always operated with the goal of making a positive impact on the world, and we will not remain silent on racism and police brutality in America in the wake of George Floyd’s killings and the killings and abuse of countless other Black Americans. Silence is complicity. Companies, as groups of people, need to stand up for human rights. Our company stands for the Black Lives Matter movement, equality, social justice, and dismantling white supremacy. We will not remain silent on this issue. We will use our platform for positive change.
As mentioned above, we think it’s important not just to show solidarity but to also share the actual concrete actions that we are taking at Verdical Group. While we will always aim to expand this list and do more, here are a few of the steps our company is taking now:
- We’ve made a donation to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Many of our team members have also independently donated to and/or organized giving campaigns for organizations working to fight racial injustice, end police brutality, and free protestors. We encourage you to donate if you are able or to spread the word throughout your community about ways to contribute. Though it is by no means comprehensive, we’ve included a list of bail funds and other organizations accepting donations below as a starting point.
- We’re enabling our employees to attend, support, and organize protests during business hours. We understand that activism does not fit neatly into an after-hours-only slot and that, especially given the curfews implemented in some cities, protests are increasingly being scheduled in the early afternoons and evenings.
- We encourage businesses to improve their transparency and accountability around racial diversity, equity, and inclusion by exploring resources on third-party platforms such as JUST and B Lab.
- As a company founded by a white male in an industry where it’s clear that many events disproportionately feature white men, it is our responsibility as non-optical allies to amplify the voices of People of Color. We’re proud to have an ongoing commitment to selecting a minimum of 51% of speakers who are women and/or people of color at our Net Zero Conference. We understand that this is just the first step, and that the fights for gender equality and racial equality are both important but separate, and we aim to improve and increase representation for People of Color, and Black people specifically, at our event and across our industry.
- In line with the recommendations of the International Living Future Institute’s JUST platform, Verdical Group recently updated the Ethnic Diversity Policy in our Employee Handbook, detailed below. Verdical Group has completed a JUST assessment and is in the process of earning our label. In the wake of recent events and new learning, we’ve updated the language to specifically establish that Verdical Group is an anti-racist organization, actively working to end discrimination rather than simply forbidding it. For reference, our Ethnic Diversity Policy reads as follows:
Verdical Group is committed to the hiring, retention and promotion of racially and ethnically diverse employees. Our retention and promotion strategies are focused on providing a culture and work environment where racially and ethnically diverse employees have the opportunity to be successful in their careers and to be represented at all levels of the organization including senior leadership.
Our human capital is the most valuable asset we have. The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities and talent that our diverse employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture, but our reputation, goodwill and long-term success. We aim to create a welcoming, supportive, and collaborative environment where full participation is valued and voices from diverse backgrounds and perspectives are heard.
Verdical Group’s racial and ethnic diversity initiatives are applicable — but not limited — to our practices and policies on recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, professional development and training, mentorship and sponsorship, work and project assignments, promotions, transfers, social and recreational programs, layoffs and the ongoing development of a work environment built on a premise of racial equity that encourages and enforces:
-Anti-racism; we are committed to not just prohibiting racism within our organization but also actively fighting discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
-Respectful communication and cooperation between all employees.
-Teamwork and employee participation, permitting the representation of all groups and employee perspectives.
-Work/life balance through flexible work schedules to accommodate employees’ varying needs.
-Employer and employee contributions to the communities we serve to promote a greater understanding and respect for traditionally underserved and historically marginalized populations.
- As noted above, we’re calling for organizations and businesses in our community to speak up and share their support. We’ll highlight organizations that do so in a thread on our social channels.
- We are sharing resources and calling for organizations to show their support on social media and via direct emails to leaders in our industry.
- We’re meeting internally to discuss the issue, share areas of improvement, and determine what specifically it means to operate as an anti-racist organization.
- We’re listening. We’re learning. We’re opening up our inbox to feedback, questions, and suggestions for what more we can do.
Additional Anti-Racism Resources:
- Sign Petitions / Text or Call / Donate / More Resources for Protestors (BlackLivesMatter.carrd.co)
- Support protestors by donating to bail funds (Rolling Stone)
- New Era of Public Safety: An Advocacy Toolkit for Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing (Obama Foundation)
- America’s Racial Contract is Killing Us (The Atlantic)
- Systemic Racism Explained (Act.tv on Youtube)
- An Anti-Racist Reading List (New York Times)
- Stop Killing Us: A Real Life Nightmare (Tamika Butler on UseJournal)
- Therapy Resources for People of Color (Google Doc)
- Speak Up! Teaching tolerance among family, neighbors, in public, etc. (Tolerance.org)
- How to Build an Actively Anti-Racist Company (Quartz)
- Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup (Pretty Good Design)
- 10 Steps to Non-Optical Allyship (Mireille Charper on Instagram)
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice (Medium)
B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.