UPDATE: Confronting Racial Injustice in Our Society
Passive support isn’t enough
UPDATE (June 3, 2021): A year ago, Brighton Jones CEO Jon Jones shared the letter below with our community about confronting racial injustice in society. As a company, Brighton Jones has been working to fulfill our pledge to expand our vision of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and to chart a proactive path toward being anti-racist.
Since our first two commitments are well underway, we wanted to give our most significant update on our third commitment:
Educate our colleagues on systemic racism and privilege dynamics so we can be better listeners and foster productive conversations with friends, family, and our community.
Our initial goals were to successfully launch the JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) program, establish a steering team and team charter, create ambitious goals, and invite employees to join the firm-wide committee and help drive progress towards meeting those goals.
We successfully built the program framework within three months thanks to the commitment of leadership and the efforts of more than 40 established and emerging leaders in our company.
Our steering team outlined four objectives:
- Justice: Dismantle barriers to resources and opportunities in financial services so all individuals and communities can live a richer life.
- Identified educational, systemic, and institutional barriers.
- Built a double match program for employees that aligns with diversity awareness months such as Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and more.
- Equity: Allocate time, resources, and expertise to provide underserved communities access to the benefits of financial education.
- Wrote a “how-to” guide for employees who want to give to organizations that align with our JEDI mission.
- Created a financial literacy education curriculum for 8th graders to deliver in classrooms in partnership with the Choices Education Group.
- Diversity: Employ and nurture a team that reflects the diverse backgrounds of our current and prospective clients, both now and as we expand into new markets
- Reviewed promotions and compensation data to ensure equity across groups.
- Created a Diversity in Hiring Map to improve diversity in our hiring funnel.
- Inclusion: Foster an environment that welcomes all individuals and empowers them to contribute fully to the organization’s success utilizing a MESI mindset of vulnerability, curiosity, and candor.
- Hosted two firm-wide book clubs to discuss So you Want to Talk About Race and White Fragility.
- Partnering with an established diversity training firm to conduct a needs assessment and will launch company-wide training this summer.
- Launching conversation salons and hosting guest speakers as part of our Brighton Jones University – JEDI series.
Each objective now has a group of employees meeting monthly to define and drive progress toward these goals, and report back to our steering committee.
Updates on the additional two commitments:
Launching a Community Impact Circle focused on anti-racism so as a community we can learn together, amplify new voices, and donate to organizations making a positive difference.
In November 2020, we launched our Racial Justice Community Impact Circle, comprised of 15 clients who are spending a year together to learn about systemic racism, the role of race in our culture, and organizations working on issues ranging from health equity to criminal justice reform.
We spent the first six months focusing on personal identity work and exploring what role our race has played in our individual lives. We are now learning about racism in philanthropy and meeting with leaders from the non-profit field. And we are most excited about our September trip to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the Civil Rights Trail, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, where police attacked civil rights demonstrators in 1965.
Providing immediate financial support to organizations that have been on the frontlines of these issues for years.
Our philanthropy department worked with each of our offices to select an organization that was doing impactful work on racial justice and reflected the values of that office’s employees and clients. We then doubled the amount that the office committed. The selected organizations were:
- Black Family and Child Services of Arizona
- Black Parent Initiative
- CHOOSE 180
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Got Green
- Urban League of Portland
We will continue to update our community on this work as we learn and grow as a company.
Nothing I could ever write would adequately capture the amount of pain our country is experiencing right now. I’m only now beginning to know what I don’t know. Yet, even when our words fail us, we can listen, learn, and drive lasting change.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others before them reveal the deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice in our society. Every day, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) experience racism, bigotry, and unequal treatment in many different forms. When you add the fact that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted BIPOC, it should be no surprise that our awareness of these issues has hit a boiling point. We can’t stay silent.
At Brighton Jones, our mission is to help our clients, colleagues, and the global community live a richer life. We have intentionally made compassion the foundational pillar of our culture, and now it is time for us to double down on that commitment.
As a company, we embrace the opportunity to be a part of an expanded vision of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. Working to create a culture of psychological safety means ensuring that we are an actively anti-racist organization. Passive support isn’t enough.
While we realize we have so much to learn, here are the actions we are committing to today:
- Providing immediate financial support to organizations that have been on the frontlines of these issues for years.
- Launching a Community Impact Circle focused on anti-racism so as a community we can learn together, amplify new voices, and donate to organizations making a positive difference.
- Educating our colleagues on systemic racism and privilege dynamics so we can be better listeners and foster productive conversations with friends, family, and our community.
We are here to listen and to learn from all of you. I invite anyone reading this message to send me your ideas for work we can do as an organization. We don’t have the answers right now, but we know that we need each of your voices to build a more just society.
Compassion is a verb. Black Lives Matter.
This post was originally published on June 4, 2020 and updated on December 10, 2020.