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CEO Corner: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

On March 11, at the same time the world tilted due to a global pandemic, my husband had emergency brain surgery and was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. On May 25, George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis energized a movement to change our minds and hearts to once and for all deal with the institutionalized racism we’ve denied for too long. Then on June 8, we learned the U.S. had officially entered a recession that would likely be made worse by a ‘second wave’. It all seems like too much doesn’t it?

As a leader of Archbright who serves almost 2,000 employers in the PNW, I have certainly felt overwhelmed. I’m sure you do too (and I hope you don’t have the same personal crisis to contend with)! There is so much to deal with right now. But while these might seem like the worst of times, these are the best of times too. We can use this time and experience to make our organizations a better place to work…and in doing so, change the world.

I’m talking about an authentic, from-the-top commitment to stamping out racism in our own organizations and building thriving cultures where everyone matters, feels they belong, and knows they can thrive. I’m talking about the insertion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into your strategy, your culture, and your very being as an organization. Archbright embarked on our own DEI work last year. First, our leadership team made a commitment that DEI would be more than a task list for us. It would be a body of work that would be a strategic priority. Here are some highlights of our journey:

  • We assembled a DEI Planning Team made up by employees throughout the organization to develop a 3-year DEI plan.  
  • We ran a Spectra Diversity Assessment of the organization to help us gain insights and understanding of where our employees viewed us through the DEI lens.
  • We developed a 3-year Action Plan to guide our work.
  • We opened and filled a DEI Program Manager position to focus on the execution of the plan.
  • We launched a company-wide diversity training program for every employee.
  • We hired DEI consultants to guide our leadership team to align around our commitment to this work, educate ourselves, and realize our aspirations for a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive Archbright culture.
  • We opened up a conversation company-wide, where all team members can speak their mind, express their thoughts on the racial unrest in this current time, and discuss steps we can each take to make a difference. 

Considering the current events, I am so grateful we had already started this work in earnest last year. I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far. And I know, we have so far yet to go. I want to encourage all leaders to either start or continue this important work in your own organizations. It requires courage and commitment to be sure. But it is truly the most important thing we can be doing right now. As a place to start, I’d like to recommend all Archbright member leaders engage with The Institute of Sustainable Diversity and Inclusion and participate in their sessions in the 2020 Diversity Learning Series: https://www.i4sdi.org/2020-nwdls.

On behalf of the Archbright Team, I hope you and yours stay safe, sane, and healthy as you manage your way through these times! As always, please let Archbright know how we can help you and your teams.

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Shannon Kavanaugh