If you’re a white business owner, how do you write a DEI statement that doesn’t sound like you’re full of shit – like you smoked a bong full of corporate platitudes and disappeared into a haze of listening, learning, and of nebulous social media commitments to doing the work?
First, you probably need to ask why you’re writing it in the first place. If the answer is because you’re terrified of what people think of you, or terrified of being called out, or terrified that large corporations won’t work with you if you don’t, then the chances are that you missed the point in the first place.
If the answer is because you genuinely want to change your company to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive, then the next step is to admit that you have a problem. Deep down admit it. Move past the fragility, the shame, the guilt, and admit it. And then, like any recovery, you invest in getting help.
For us that help came in the form of Dr Cheryl Ingram, a wonderful woman who changed the way we viewed the world. We committed to an annual DEI assessment and report. This lays bare the facts – shows you where your systems are failing. There’s no hiding.
Then you make a plan to dismantle and change those systems. This is what we’ve been doing: hiring an HR consultant; implementing HR policies to ensure that our company culture, hiring practice, employee review process, and career development pathways are diverse, equitable, and inclusive; increasing employee DEI learning and education opportunities; improving pay equity and pay visibility; and increasing opportunity within the industry for marginalized voices.
We’ve made progress, but we have a long way to go. Mistakes are inevitable, but we will no longer ignore them, and hope they go away.
The goal is that somewhere along the way someone that never had a chance will get the chance to find their voice, fulfil their potential as a filmmaker, and make some money. Money isn’t everything of course. As Quincy Jones said, ‘When you chase music for money, God walks out of the room.’ But when you’ve never had any, or any prospect of making any, it can change your life.
At Somesuch we make the statement, we don’t just write it. That is why we wrote the statement after we started the work.