Driving Ecosystem Equity by Design
Everybody wants to do what is right. But how easy is it for you to talk about equality and equity? How accessible is the vocabulary, concepts, and the importance of these to you, as a person? As a nonprofit or education leader? How about as a business owner? Whether you are on a leadership team, or are an individual contributor, equity challenges our ideas about how things “should” look and behave in our world.
When we put this notion of “should” into bigger frameworks that we can’t control, like systemic inequities, we often unintentionally reinforce the same inequities we want to tear down. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that this must change — not only for the betterment of nonprofits and schools, but for the betterment of the world around us.
This work cannot be done alone. It requires a system of shared commitments and actions by each party — a true partnership in driving equity. Those shared commitments are:
1) We (at Salesforce.org) are going to commit to recognizing, listening, and aiding partners that make endeavors towards equity;
2) Business partners will need to think differently and take action with how they hire and promote their staff
You can’t have one of the above commitments without the other, and you can’t have commitment without meaningful action to back it up. What we’re striving to achieve here is a framework that best supports that shared partnership, enables these uncomfortable conversations in a safe way, and provides new landing places and inclusion and retention in the Salesforce economy.
As we approach Juneteenth, there will likely be a lot of dialogue this year about what such a painful, yet also liberating, date means in the context of where our country stands — especially over the past 18 months. Durability is an important element to the work that we’re doing. Rather than focus our attention on a single moment as a reflection of our commitment towards furthering racial and social justice, we’re using Juneteenth as a reminder of our commitment to focusing on long-term systemic change.
It is only through both accounting for the lived experiences of individuals in our ecosystem and the imperative for systemic change that this durability is achieved. We hope that our actions are reflective of both elements. We shouldn’t allow moments like Pride Month or Juneteenth to be reduced to performative holidays, in which we celebrate the moment and then move on to the next. We are accountable to long, sustained commitment to change because dismantling systemic inequality takes constant work to challenge our own views and biases and take meaningful action.
We’re striving to build a framework that best supports shared partnership, enables uncomfortable conversations in a safe way, and provides inclusion and retention in the Salesforce economy.
So, we started with listening. The Partner Advisory Board Equality Committee worked with us over the last year to have these difficult conversations, bring to light the challenges they see, and present ideas for how we at Salesforce.org could do better, both individually and as a partner. More on that below.
Then, we looked at the areas where we had influence. The challenge of driving equity is multifaceted, and requires a multifaceted approach while also recognizing that we cannot do everything — at least not all at once.
Next, we recognized that it requires intentional design that identifies desired outcomes, and the actions required to get there. But we can’t do it alone — it has to be collaborative.
Here’s where we’ve landed so far this year. I’m incredibly proud of the work of our teams to get here, and the journey we are on with partners.
1. We incorporated an Equality Commitment into our Partner Network. Every firm in the Salesforce.org Partner Network is required to participate in at least one equality training this year in order to remain eligible for next year. This was critical for us to start leveling the field.
One of the biggest challenges in this work is to bring in the folks that aren’t already doing the work. I had the wonderful opportunity to (virtually) meet Doyin Richards, best-selling author and anti-racism facilitator, for our Unite Partner Summit, and he made an excellent point. He said there are three types of people: anti-racists, racists, and everyone in between. But you typically won’t see a racist becoming anti-racist. Where your energy is better focused is on the everyone in between. And one way we can reach them is simply through education by training and sharing.
2. We established our designation of Equality Partners, with recognition of the first cohort of over 50 partners to join us! By signing up as an Equality Partner, these Salesforce.org consulting partners have committed to: take the 1% Pledge, participate in the Salesforce Talent Alliance or be working with at least one Workforce Development Group, take the “Cultivate Equality at Work” Trail on Salesforce Trailhead, and have an active plan in place to drive diversity within their own organization.
We established our designation of Equality Partners, with over 50 partners joining the first cohort.
3. The Salesforce.org Partner Incubator launched with seven firms whose leaders identify as being from an under-represented group in the tech industry. These firms are joining us on a growth journey customized to their needs, and we are so excited to see what we can accomplish together as we help remove barriers and support them strategically.
4. Equity In Action is a new bi-monthly series where partners and others share how they are bringing their expertise to a broad range of equity topics. Our first session was about advancing workforce diversity with Exponent Partners. The team shared the actionable steps they’re taking to diversify their workforce. If you have an area you would like to present or join a panel conversation to talk about, like bias in AI, accessibility design, or how to foster a culture-add environment, write to us at [email protected]!
5. UNITE, the 6th annual Salesforce.org Partner Summit, brought together over 100 firms from 21 countries as we learned and collaborated together. It provided a great opportunity to design a program with driving equity in mind. Thanks to the recommendations of the Partner Advisory Board Equality Committee, we had a strong list of diverse thought leaders for our keynotes.
We set a number of goals for this event. First was to have at least 50% of our event speakers from underrepresented groups, and while we just barely beat it at 51%, we will strive to do better. We also wanted to spend our money mindfully by investing in Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) creators, authors, artists, and even chefs. And last but not least, we decided to not have an equality track and instead weave our equity-themed content throughout. To my point above, equity and equality shouldn’t be reduced to a specific day, month, or event track — these are foundational elements that should be omnipresent in everything we do.
Goals for our event included at least 50% of speakers from underrepresented groups, investments in BIPOC creators, and a focus on equity-themed content throughout.
By placing equity at the forefront of your work, you can better identify and leverage the power you have. Find those with the influence you need and bring them onboard. When you integrate equity work into what you do everyday, that boulder doesn’t seem quite as heavy because you’re already moving it. And then you can look for the areas where you can do more — or do better. So while we celebrate Juneteenth and Pride Month right now, they are moments in time for weaving into the larger work we still have in front of us.
About the Author
Sr. Director, Global Partner Engagement, Salesforce.org
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