The committee encourages TBI’s nearly 300 employees to “Speak Strong. Listen Loud.”
TBI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Resonate) was still being developed when the events of June 2020 made it a priority.
“The events of that summer definitely were a catalyst,” said Bryan Reynolds, TBI’s director of sales operations.
“We wanted to be able to give everybody involved with the company a safe space to come and talk about everything that was happening in the world.”
“People need a place where they can ask questions and share experiences. Where they can talk about how the headlines make them feel, their fears — just generally learn from one another,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds and Ashley Kain, TBI’s office manager and executive assistant, co-founded and currently co-chair the committee.
The committee, launched in June 2020, was well-received by employees. The group meets once a month. Each meeting starts with an “open share,” which allows participants to share anything they want with the group.
“It could be their struggles, their successes or their concerns,” Reynolds said. “That gives us a starting point for the kind of conversations that people generally don’t want to have.”
“We have a comfortable, safe space to ask the uncomfortable questions. We all learn from that. And that’s what stimulates most of the conversation.”
“Ashley and I will also have some topics of discussion. For example, in our last meeting we talked about how to be a good ally in the workplace and things we can do to be better allies.”
|Bryan Reynolds is a charter member of the Channel Futures DE&I 101. The list, which debuted earlier this month, honors 101 individuals from multicultural backgrounds who are working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the ICT channel.|
“We also encourage our members to give back to the community. For example, we recently teamed up with Meals on Wheels for Chicago. We registered for their virtual 5K to help raise funds and awareness. We’re going to do a lot more like that in the coming months.”
“We also maintain an internal SharePoint page where we upload the articles that we talk about in our meetings. There’s a diversity days calendar that we go through every month to highlight specific days around diversity so we can celebrate those.”
“In addition, we have a Yammer page where people can keep conversations going outside of the meetings. They can post any relevant articles, news headlines, TED Talks — things like that.”
Finding an Identity
Once the group was up and running, Reynolds and Kain decided it needed to be more than just the “Diversity & Inclusion Committee.” It needed an identity.
“I was thinking of what we actually do in the group,” said Reynolds. “We give people an opportunity to speak. We give them a voice, a platform to share their experiences. The purpose of this group is to give people an opportunity to resonate verbally, spiritually amd emotionally, so that people can learn from one another. The name ‘Resonate’ fit perfectly.”
A Safe Space
Kain admits that it took a while for employees to feel comfortable opening up on uncomfortable topics. “In the beginning, everyone was keen on being a part of the group, but it took a while for them to realize it really was a safe space. A couple of people volunteered at the beginning to open share. Then we had a couple of volunteer speakers in the meetings. And that’s when people started to feel comfortable opening up.”
“Since then, it’s been amazing to how something that Bryan and I built from the ground up has become a place where employees get to share experiences, life stories, concerns and questions with no judgment, no attacking.”
No Magic Formula
Reynolds and Kain stress that there’s no magic formula for what they did. “We just recognized that there was a need,” Kain said. “So we set about meeting it.”
“We didn’t really know where to start. It was just put together step by step. We started with foundational items like the mission statement and went from there.”
The duo enlisted the aid of a few committee members to develop things like meeting content and community outreach.
“I’m not sure anyone really knows where or how to start,” said Kain. “My biggest piece of advice would be…