Listen, Learn, Act, and Repeat

June 6, 2020


Bay Area

Listen, Learn, Act, and Repeat

Yesterday, our CEO, David Williams, released a statement pertaining to recent events in our country. In unity with our organization’s stance, we also wanted to explain the work we are doing at a local level.

Over the past weeks, Genesys Works Bay Area (GWBA) has reflected on the role our day-to-day practices have played in contributing to infrastructure that enables inequitable practices and environments. As advocates for our students, it is our responsibility and privilege to work towards and build a future that is worthy of them.

We have not done enough.

The senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and many other Black citizens highlight the inextricable link between the mission of Genesys Works and the goal of eliminating the systemic racism facing the Black Community. There is no excuse for staying silent. People say racial dynamics in America are complicated. Although the history of racism is complex, the decision to oppose racism is not. It can be explained in seven simple words. It is the right thing to do.

Action is needed now. For all community, nonprofit, civic, and private-sector leaders, addressing racial inequities and speaking up is an important first step. But we must do more. Taking action is the key measurement against which we should be judged. As such, I want to share with you the actions that Genesys Works Bay Area is committed to implementing.

Short-term actions to be taken by September 1, 2020

  1. We will host a Racial Injustice Forum for our current Young Professionals on June 5, 2020. The first step is to listen, but we must create a safe space, free of judgement, so that the youth we serve can exercise their voices and feel empowered to educate us. Historically, we have not provided a formal dedicated space for students to speak with one another about their experiences as people of color interning in largely homogenous environments. It is past time that we did so. We will also build future dedicated space into our programming.
  2. We will intentionally cultivate a team that represents our students. At 66% people of color, our current staff composition is highly reflective of our community. However, we will not allow this to be left up to chance. We commit to widening our talent pipeline by posting any future career opportunities on at least three job boards that specifically highlight opportunities for communities of color.
  3. We will widen our internship pipeline for Black students. 100% of our current students identify as people of color, and 25% of our students identify as Black. However, due to the gentrification of the Bay Area in recent years, we have seen the number of internship applications from Black students decrease, with applications specifically from Black male students declining precipitously. Frankly, this is unacceptable. Although our recruiting has historically occurred only within high schools, we will make targeted outreach to educators and organizations serving the Black community. We must ensure that we are not passively excluding Black students from our program.
  4. We will incorporate implicit bias training into our manager orientations. Genesys Works is so grateful to all of our corporate partners for committing funds, personnel, and time to our joint efforts to build a more diverse workplace. These resources must be bolstered by an understanding of the systemic racism that our students face. Educating the community on implicit bias will help to ensure that our young professionals start their internships in environments worthy of their talents. We will also include a DEI commitment letter for all incoming managers to ensure that we have a shared understanding of community standards.
  5. We will mandate a “silence is compliance” rule, requiring that any instances of racism or other intolerance reported by a student, intern, or staff member must be elevated to the GWBA Executive Director. The Executive Director will report such occurrences to the appropriate channel and take action, up to severing a relationship, if necessary.

Long-term actions to be reported on by June 5, 2021

  1. We will establish salary bands for jobs and improve transparency around rates of pay. Posting salaries in the job descriptions has been historically proven to increase diversity in applicant pools. Additionally, standardizing rates of pay across roles can help eliminate some of the disparities and improve hiring practices.  We are working with our national HR team to implement this policy.
  2. We will increase our board diversity. Seventy-five percent of our board pipeline is composed of people of color.  We are aiming for sixty-six percent of the board members who join our organization within the next 12 months to be people of color.

As we take action, we must also understand that the path towards a more equitable future is not static. We must continue to listen, learn, act, and repeat. We look forward to collaborating with all of our partners to build a better Bay Area, and a better tomorrow.

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