Hi, I’m Kevin Lawver, the CTO at Planted. Today is Black Out Tuesday, and instead of posting a graphic, or writing a press release, we thought it would be more appropriate to talk about some of the things your company can do today to help make sure that Black Lives Matter in your organization beyond just today. 

First, don’t start something new. 

There are already organizations in your community doing the work. If your company would really like to help your community, give your people, or advocate for, the freedom to serve in the community. It shouldn't be one day a year, a quarter, or even a month. Volunteer and encourage team members to volunteer. Give space and time to go to board meetings during the day. Encourage it. Leadership should set the example, get involved, and maybe even match volunteer hours with their employees. Use your Marketing department to celebrate your employees’ contributions and recognize local organizations worth supporting.

Money is great, and if you have it, you should donate as much as you can to the organizations doing this work in your community! Even if you’re donating money, unleashing your peoples' creativity and passion on the problems in your community and encouraging them to give their time to those organizations in your community already doing the work? That's meaningful and lasting.

The best part about this is that it doesn’t matter how much funding your company has, how many employees, or where your headquarters happens to be. All of your company has the freedom to volunteer and give back to their community when their community needs them would make a powerful statement and a real difference.

I've been extremely thankful to Planted for allowing me the time over the years to serve on the board of Susie King Taylor Community School, to lead TechSAV, do codebar workshops, etc, all without making me feel guilty for missing an hour or two of work.

Second, make sure your company values diversity and inclusion in your hiring.

Which colleges do you recruit at? Are any of them Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)? No? Tell your recruiting department to add them to your recruiting efforts.  

As part of your diversity and inclusion efforts, review your company’s job listings. Are they unintentionally ableist? Do they unnecessarily inflate requirements? Do they use racially insensitive or gendered language? If you don’t know the answer to that, using a tool like Textio can help, but having accountability partners in your community that can help make sure you’re not unintentionally leaving people out of your applicant pool would be even better. Does your company have a policy to get as many services as possible from Minority and Women-Owned Businesses? It wouldn’t be that hard, and could make a huge difference.

Third, look at what single parents need to be successful at work. 

Are there flexible work hours? Does your company help with childcare? Does it provide a living wage? Have your managers gone through inclusion and diversity training? Have you?  

Lastly, the world is a complicated place.

White privilege and supremacy are difficult to tackle, especially if you’re just getting started, but better late than never! Welcome! I think the first step for everyone in the company should be coming to terms with their own privilege and things they might be doing, unintentionally or not, that could make your company a less-than-welcoming space for people of color and underrepresented groups. If you’re not in a leadership position, you can advocate for policy changes. If you are a leader, lead. It’s your job to make these things a part of your company culture! Make a commitment to being an inclusive work environment and make it a company-wide initiative.

There is a lot of work to do. There’s no time like the present to get started.