Be the Change You Desire

August 24, 2020 Mark Sebree

We’ve all been there. We lose a loved one or experience some other tragic event in our lives. At first, the outpouring of support from family and friends is overwhelming. Depending on our culture, the pomp surrounding funeral arrangements or others offering support (though well-meaning) may be a bit disconcerting and overwhelming. And then, when it’s all over, the quietness starts. Days, weeks, and months may pass without so much as a word from anyone. We often go from overwhelming attention to deafening silence.

In the days, weeks, and months following our nation’s shameful display of blatant racism, we will not let silence prevail. It may seem quiet now, but within our organization, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes.

Our organization has been actively learning. We have hosted six listening sessions with our staff to allow for experience sharing, emotional release and active listening. All session attendees were personally affected by the stories and the range of emotions during these sessions. Some expressed raw feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, and guilt. But there were also glimmers of optimism, hope and, most importantly, thankfulness.

Many of us pledged to make a difference by enacting change, starting with ourselves. We pledged to speak out about racial injustices. We promised to educate our kids, family, and friends on the socially cancerous effects of racism. If we didn’t fully understand racism, we promised to educate ourselves. We committed to opening our circle of friends to include those we traditionally would not associate with.

In the wake of national outcry against systemic racism, we immediately convened our executive staff to strengthen our commitments to make change. Here’s just a glimpse of our intentionality.

We immediately changed our volunteerism policy to allow staff to participate in peaceful protests to ensure their voices are heard. We created manager talking points on racial discrimination and shared them with all leaders in our organization. In addition to the listening sessions, we decided to continue the sessions on a quarterly basis for ongoing support. We’re auditing our job postings and descriptions for wording designed to attract diverse talent. We will increase the effectiveness of our recruiting of diverse talent by providing targeted training and incentives. We are currently designing an Emerging Leaders Program to increase promotion opportunities for employees of color. These changes are just the start for us. They’re the beginning of a continued journey that will make all of us stronger together than we could ever be alone. A journey where inclusivity and equality are ever-present.

A wise person once said, “Expectation postponed makes the heart sick.” At times, change seems to move at the speed of a glacier but be assured it is moving at Franklin Energy and AM Conservation Group. With each of us individually doing our part, the progress will become more evident and dynamic. We encourage each of you to take steps to do your part today. Keep having those uncomfortable conversations. Be the change you desire.

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