At Avid Core, we acknowledge that we have much work to do across all parts of our business in the pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As we look to the future and the uncertainties across the political, legal, and social landscapes, we’re committed to the lifelong process of reflecting, learning, and taking action.
We will continue to integrate new (to us) lenses of understanding the world and the needs of the people and communities we serve, alongside actionable shifts in how we operate and grow our firm.
To be held accountable to this important and ongoing work, we publish an annual update here on our blog. Here are some ways we’ve upheld our promises from last year, expanded our services, and areas that still need to be addressed:
Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Our Work and Our Workplace
We have made a conscious effort to integrate DEI in our work both externally and internally.
Over the past year, we’ve recalibrating our growth strategy to fit our values and commitment to inclusive communications, which included bidding on proposals that prioritize outreach and communications support for specific DEI initiatives at the federal and local levels. We partnered with K.L. Scott and Associates to develop and evaluate the first DEI communications plans for local government agencies in Frederick County, Maryland and Boise, Idaho. We are also currently working with partners at Cogstone Resource Management and Kearns & West to engage with Tribal collaborators with ancestral ties to the land currently known as the County of Los Angeles to guide the development of a formal land acknowledgment and toolkit, land access policy, and correction of the historical record to be used by the County. Our approach to all these projects centers the voices of historically marginalized populations.
Closer to home, we worked with PlanRVA to update their Title VI plan, taking it beyond compliance and ensuring it aligned with larger commitments to DEI. Based on series of interviews for community members, we developed the agency’s first Inclusive Purchasing Program, Inclusive Recruitment Program, and Equitable Public Meeting Playbook. All products were tailored specifically to the demographic make-up of the Richmond Region and their unique needs.
In our client work, we ensure materials are translated into multiple languages, are 508 compliant, and information is accessible to those where the internet and technology are not available or commonplace. On our blog, we’ve also launched a new accessibility in communications post series. Quarterly, our in-house experts share helpful tips and stories that highlight the importance of integrating accessibility best practices. Over the next year, we’ll continue to seek out opportunities to put these commitments into practice and welcome additional ideas from our clients and partners for ways we can expand this effort.
In our workplace, we continue to include all full-time staff members in management and operations discussions, providing full transparency into our decision-making processes. This includes discussions about salaries, healthcare decisions, and the organization’s financial health, among other critical components that impact management decisions.
We encourage team members at every level to discuss complex topics and actively listen to each other’s perspectives on regular basis, which has created a safe place for people to learn and grow. We plan to host more listening sessions on topics our staffers are passionate about to see if there are ways we can provide support as a company.
We’ve developed and provided training on inclusive language and provided tools for checking bias and accessibility, as well as culturally competent style guides. While we have required staff to take an off-the-shelf training on unconscious bias, we have not provided new unconscious bias training for leadership and staff and are committed to prioritizing this training in the next year.
Evaluating Our Hiring, Pay, and Purchasing Practices
Over the past year, we’ve had openings for two full-time positions and three internship postings. We took a closer look at our job descriptions and rewrote them to be clear and more representative of our company culture. We continue to include a salary range for all new positions and have expanded the reach of our postings to a variety of recruitment sites to reach a more diverse talent pool. We also offer accommodations in the hiring process if requested.
We raised our minimum wage for all employees, contractors, and interns to $18 per hour (up from $15 per hour) and remain committed to evaluating what salaries and benefits are competitive to attract and retain talent.
We are committed to continuing to improve our hiring processes, eliminating bias to the greatest extent possible. We are also exploring ways we can improve transparency throughout the process for candidates because we want to respect the time, energy, and effort that goes into applying for a job. We plan to hire a certified DEI consultant to develop a recruitment and hiring strategy and plan with a focus on diversity and inclusion by the end of 2022.
We’re consciously making purchasing decisions to support small, minority-owned businesses and will continue this commitment for the years to come. This includes researching new vendors for printing to replace the large chain we relied on, requesting DEI policy information from potential IT vendors, and renting meeting spaces from local black-owned businesses.
Supporting Our Team
While there are improvements to be made in work-life balance across all levels of our staff, we are evaluating flexible and non-traditional work arrangements that are results-based to encourage more balance and emphasize our commitment to our employees as people first.
We’re currently exploring ways to support each full-time staff’s unique reproductive, family, and healthcare needs, such as covering certain expenses and/or additional time off. We continue to pledge to support each other and prioritize the well-being and mental health of our employees and continue to welcome suggestions for teambuilding ideas that also relieve stress.
Supporting Our Community
We promised to provide a charitable fund for employees to draw from to support the causes and organizations they care about deeply. Over the past year we’ve contributed to the following causes but need to improve the frequency of our contributions in the next year:
- Collective 365
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
- Imagine Waterworks
- Boys & Girls Club of America
- Free Minds Book Club
- Moseka Action Project
- The Comité Tricolore
- Native American Fatherhood and Families Association
- The TREVOR Project
In addition to monetary funds, we also provided pro-bono services to TRUE Center, a new nonprofit offering trauma-based intervention and prevention services for children and families regardless of the ability to pay.
As communicators, we understand the importance of information sharing. We are actively participating in conferences, webinars, and other forums to continue to learn about our community’s needs and share DEI best practices we’ve gathered throughout our own journey.
At Avid Core, we help clients build public involvement programs that allow their stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback and weigh in on projects and programs that impact them and their communities. While we have made some progress, we recognize that there is still more to be done. We welcome feedback from our partners on how we can improve our commitments to racial and social justice.