This Juneteenth is a time for reflection and dedication. A time to pause and take stock in the midst of a much-needed moment of national consciousness raising about the unjust treatment of Black Americans.
Our agency has been having many necessary (and often difficult) conversations over the past several weeks, and there are a wide range of opinions, emotions, and resolutions being shared among Planeteers. Most importantly, we recognize that as a group of overwhelmingly white professionals, in an overwhelming white industry, we must examine and correct a system that has long rewarded some groups at the expense of others and continues to do so today.
We also recognize that actions speak louder than words, and the time for action is now. There’s a tremendous amount of work to do: there are no overnight solutions to centuries-old injustices. But we can no longer use the magnitude of these challenges as an excuse to stay silent or sit on the sidelines. We need to use our privilege to support those who are advocating for change, and to be active participants in that change.
Accountability is key, and that is why we’ve taken concrete steps to ensure that our efforts don’t fade as soon as the recent round of headlines recedes.
This past month we have provided financial support to several Madison-area organizations that are working on the ground for social and racial justice. Planet has always been proud to be a part of the Madison community, but we recognize that the welcoming and vibrant city that we cherish has overlooked and marginalized entire groups of people. As beneficiaries of an inequitable system, we must support its evolution.
Our agency has also started an internal task force to tackle several elements of injustice in our industry, our community, and within our own walls. We are heartened and inspired by our team’s engagement with the taskforce and their general support for launching and exploring future initiatives.
The task force’s three key areas of focus are employee education, internal operations, and outward action. Though we’re still in early planning stages, we’ve highlighted several potential efforts within each, and are currently exploring and prioritizing our next moves:
Employee Education: A more just world starts with confronting and overcoming our own blindspots and biases. It requires listening to people with different experiences, and responding to their concerns. It requires an empathetic approach to problem solving where we don’t jump to prescribing answers, but rather support those who have been doing this work for decades. We intend to invest in resources—like diversity and inclusion training, guest speakers, and self-directed learning—that will help improve our collective understanding of the challenges at hand, and will provide additional perspectives and roadmaps for making change.
Internal Operations: In an industry that has fallen short, we will modify how we think and work internally and with clients to reflect the diverse world we live in, and hold ourselves responsible for improving persistent inequities. From recruitment efforts to employee support to client expectations, we intend to go above and beyond in ways that meaningfully change the face of our organization and the type of work we produce.
Outward Action: As professional communicators, we want to use our influence and platform to amplify more diverse voices and to support groups in our local community and industry who are seeking partners. We intend to follow the direction of the qualified leaders who are fighting for those whom we as a society have often neglected and underestimated.
For now, these are areas for exploration, but the end result of the taskforce’s efforts will be a concrete plan for improving diversity and inclusion with quantifiable and definable goals. We have room for substantial improvement in all three of these areas, and we are committed to creating an atmosphere of encouragement and opportunity for all Planeteers to join us in this journey.
Today we reflect, and tomorrow we continue to work for change.