As the voice of the business community, a convener, and information hub for our members; the Yountville Chamber recognizes we must be a leader and intentional about seeking the input and engagement of diverse groups. We are working to create a welcoming environment for all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age or ability.
We have partnered with Tauri Laws-Phillips to create a series of guest blogs addressing topics in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion
Tauri is an Austin based mother, comedienne and brand marketer. With over 10 years as an improviser and corporate facilitator, she practices the basic tenets of improv throughout her professional career with building cohesive teams, innovative ideation and precision execution. She has developed diversity and inclusion training for companies in multiple verticals with a focus on unconscious bias. Tauri is currently a mentor for SKU Brand Accelerator and contractor building several small brands, formerly the Vice President of Marketing for American English Haircare and has worked to build and market brands for Unilever and Southwest Media Group.
So, you have paid attention and want to do more to bring diversity to your business. It makes sense, diversity is a buzzword these days. It’s more than that. Addressing diversity as a business brings teams together. You are working in building diversity on your team, but it feels like there is more to do. The next step is to be an ally, as a business.
Choosing to be an ally gives your team a collective goal and ultimately a shared achievement. What is the next step, how can you build allyship as a business? What’s an ally? (Funny how I heard your thoughts, I know) An ally is someone who uses their privilege to help those in a marginalized community. How do we do this as a business and who do we do it for?
Great questions, you are so smart. Allyship can happen as an organization. This is where your internal work to build diversity meets your community outreach to build equity for a marginalized group. Many organizations have a charitable element. Some support a local recreational ball team, shelter or community service organization.
To move beyond that, you can choose to extend that element to paradigms by which your company operates. Your company can be a champion to underserved communities. I hear your doubt bubbling up, here’s a great example. The CIA supports LGBTQ community with an agency group called ANGLE (Agency Network for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Officers and Allies). The agency group acts as an internal advocate for awareness of the community within the larger organization. They identify and clarify policies and practices that create an equitable, inclusive, and supportive environment. As a company that is an ally for the same community you may choose to support the LGBTQ Connection of Napa and Sonoma Counties, they support youth and emerging leaders to foster inclusivity. (https://www.lgbtqconnection.org) It’s starting to connect, right…you can do a little more locally that goes a long way.
In smaller businesses, it may not make sense to have a special committee to support a marginalized community. If you have less than 100 employees, get everyone involved! Here is how to do it:
A great place to start is to survey your employees to find out what causes and groups they feel strongly about. Make a big deal about it. Enjoy it, you should feel good about company wide initiatives, everyone should!
Educate your staff!
Explain why this is important to management and founders, and how you expect it to make a positive impact on morale and business.
Create a partnership with a local charity that supports your chosen community. Host a charity event in exchange for having them educate your staff. Support their events by providing auction items, providing space, consulting and funding when budget allows. (your marketing department will thank you for all the extra exposure you get while doing good!)
Create a feedback loop for employees, customers and partners. Accept and adapt based on the feedback you receive from each group.
A community partnership also allows a powerful opportunity to diversify the circles within which you travel. Opening up that circle increases the network with which you hire and partner. Don’t forget to follow tax rules of donating to charities. Being an ally is an ongoing commitment. Continue to learn about the group you choose to champion and build a long term multi year partnership. Doing so will strengthen your community relationships, employee morale and diversity, wins for everyone!