Black Voices – and Diversity – Matter All Year Long, Not Just in February
By Matt Mendolera-Schamann
If you’ve been following Matter’s social media channels, you likely noticed that each day throughout February, our Diversity Committee teamed up with our Professionals of Color Circle to share posts that spotlighted Black pioneers, activists and leaders. We highlighted contributions in industries from PR and social media, to science, healthcare and technology with daily tweets, and amplified many of those with LinkedIn and Instagram content as well. We also shared more robust, internal company-wide emails that gave our employees the opportunity to connect and learn more. It was a modest way to recognize a simple but powerful refrain: #BlackVoicesMatter. Of course, #BlackVoicesMatter is not a hashtag we can claim or own – it is a popular, existing hashtag used across social media that highlights and lifts the voices of people who are too-often ignored or dismissed. Aligning well with our Diversity Committee’s mission statement that Diverse Voices Matter, we felt it was an effective jumping-off point for us to contribute to these important conversations.
February is ending now, but that’s not where our work ends. It’s critically important to acknowledge Black voices don’t onlymatter during Black History Month. It would be disingenuous and all-too-easy for us to check the box and say “Great, let’s pat ourselves on the back for a job well done!” and move on to the next topic or cultural celebration to commemorate. So, that’s not what we’re going to do.
Our campaign will continue through the rest of the year – we will continue to spotlight Black voices both in our social content and internally in agency-wide communications. As my colleague who leads our Professionals of Color Circle, Marissa Lindstrom, put it: “It’s imperative for us all to recognize the amazing contributions of Black Americans, so we all understand the critical roles of Black people in the larger narrative of the United States…When we know better, we do better. And as Matter works to foster diversity and inclusion, it is important we hold ourselves accountable to this work.”
So those are two great points to focus on as we move forward: accountability and doing better.
For starters, we’re wrapping the month by making a charitable donation – a commitment to support organizations that bring the spirit of this effort to life and empower Black voices. Two organizations we’ve opted to support with a financial contribution include:
- Brotherhood Sistersol, which provides resources, evidence-based programming and support to Black youth including thorough five day a week after school care, school and home counseling, summer camps, job training and employment, college preparation, community organizing training and international study programs. One of our own employees recommended this due to his own positive experiences with their summer programming.
- Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, whose mission is focused on dismantling racism and moving decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in the U.S. Given the group’s platform in lifting Black voices and fighting racism in the media, entertainment and tech industries, among others, we saw it as particularly relevant to our own work.
Supporting other organizations and individuals only goes so far, though. In a previous blog post, we shared that the past few years have included a number of initiatives at Matter aimed to more deliberately make our agency a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to work, as well as a responsible corporate citizen and an even better partner to our clients. In 2021 and beyond, we are doubling down on that commitment and taking a variety of steps to hold ourselves more accountable and keep doing better.
Related to all this, I’m proud to share that my own role has expanded to include Leader of Diversity + Inclusion, which is yet another tangible commitment on the part of Matter that indicates how seriously we’re taking this effort at the senior level. I’m excited about the months ahead. I’m eager to learn more and work with our teams here to continue doing the work we need to.
Matter has always prided itself on being action-driven – on being results-oriented. Words matter, but they aren’t enough. I’m confident that as we continue on this journey, our actions will show that we value diversity, not just in February, but every day of the year.