DRC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Progress Update: December 2021

Last year, on May 24, the DRC shared a progress update on our DEI efforts in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Going forward, we will continue to share periodic progress updates with our member businesses and the Dallas Region community to promote transparency and accountability as further developments occur.

In our last update, we referenced the public commitment we made with 100 business leaders to address systemic racism head-on. That commitment stands today, and as business and community leaders:

      • We still strongly reject racism in all forms.
      • We are still committed to equal opportunity for all.
      • We still believe everyone is accountable, including law enforcement.
      • We still strongly reject any behavior that distracts from the critical messages that need to be heard.
      • We still commit to listen, to learn, and to help lead change in Dallas.

In addition to our commitment to racial equity, we recently joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Along with over 2,000 CEOs, including 94 DRC members, we pledged to act on supporting more inclusive workplaces.

None of this work would be possible without the investment of our members.

The Dallas Mavericks raised their hand first and generously invested $100,000 each year over three years in our DEI work. Hilti North America and Jacobs Engineering also contributed $50,000 each.

Recently, PepsiCo/Frito Lay and CBRE both committed to a $50,000 investment. All these organizations have Board members that serve and are active on the DRC’s DEI Council.

So, what have we been doing since our last update in May?

We hosted two inaugural annual DEI events – the state of DEI and the Supplier Diversity Conference.

State of DEI: On June 22, 2021, the DRC hosted over 150 attendees at the inaugural State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), presented by Axxess. Our goal for this event was to help make meaningful introductions that foster collaboration and partnerships and facilitate opportunities for businesses and the community to accelerate progress on shared goals around DEI.

Amy Liu, Vice President and Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, discussed the findings of her report: From Commitment to Action: How CEOs Can Advance Racial Equity in Their Regional Economies. She also shared examples of regional initiatives aimed at closing the gap in racial economic inequalities. Read the full recap.

Supplier Diversity Conference: On November 10, 2021, more than 80 business professionals attended the DRC’s inaugural Supplier Diversity Conference, presented by McCarthy Building Companies. The conference allowed large companies to learn how to evaluate proposals more equitably and helped small minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) get a leg up in expanding their footprints – both important pieces of driving an equitable, far-reaching economic recovery in the region. Read the full recap.

We launched our vaccine public awareness campaign and met our goal!

In June of last year, we announced the launch of the “Take Care of Business” COVID-19 vaccination awareness campaign to help our community get back to life as quickly as possible by getting the COVID-19 vaccine. We set a goal to get 600,000 more North Texans vaccinated in the coming months, and to incentive people to get vaccinated, we created a sweepstakes featuring donated prizes from organizations across the Dallas Region. These organizations included the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas, Dallas Wings, Texas Rangers, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Frito-Lay North America, and Six Flags.

Our campaign had a special focus on reaching communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Our marketing and community engagement teams led or supported more than 125 vaccination events across Dallas, Denton, Tarrant, and Collin counties. More than one million contacts were made through our phone bank, and we reached almost two million people on social media. We are proud that our efforts contributed to reaching the goal of 600,000 new vaccinations by September!

We initiated a new catalyst project focused on addressing food insecurity in Southern Dallas County.

Last September, the DRC partnered with the Dallas Citizen’s Council, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and the Boston Consulting Group to launch a racial equity coalition. Over the last year, we’ve identified over 250 organizations in the Dallas Region who are doing racial equity work.

As we continue our commitment to racial equity, each of our coalition members is acting on a catalyst project aimed at a different issue. The DRC is collaborating on an effort with a large, national grocery chain and community partners to locate a new grocery store in Southern Dallas County. This grocery store will not only make fresh food more accessible to all, but will also provide employment opportunities and essential neighborhood services.

We developed a new Diversity in Tech Hiring Toolkit to help employers diversify their tech workforce.

Dallas is one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country, but we recognized many employers were struggling to diversify their tech talent pipelines. In collaboration with Accenture, the DRC created this toolkit to be a resource for DEI leaders, HR and talent acquisition professionals, and job seekers.

The toolkit features research on the current state of diversity in tech, case studies and best practices from leading employers, a database of sources to find more diverse pools of tech talent, and recommended steps and metrics to measure diversity progress. While the toolkit focuses on tech talent, many of the best practices and sources apply across industries. Learn more here.

We kicked off a new assessment to measure DEI progress in Dallas.

In a 2016 Urban Institute study, Dallas was ranked 272 out of 274 on overall inclusion. One of our goals is to see Dallas improve this ranking, and we believe our business community plays a big part in this goal. We want to better understand how organizations in the Dallas Region are advancing DEI and share best practices to help us collectively improve.

To that end, we have partnered with Kanarys, a Dallas-based DEI platform, to launch an assessment to provide baseline measurements on DEI efforts. We plan to repeat this assessment annually to highlight organizations and companies that are making a long-term impact. The assessment was launched in November 2021, and we will share the results during our 2022 State of DEI event in May 2022. Learn more here.

We expanded our community of DEI leaders.

In February of last year, we started a new community of DEI leaders at member companies across DFW to provide a dedicated network for DEI resource sharing, collaboration, and mentorship. The group started with 30 members and has grown to 90-plus Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs), senior DEI and HR leaders, and employee resource group (ERG) leaders and sponsors. Learn more and join the group, which meets bi-monthly. We have also begun a bi-weekly newsletter assembling relevant national, local, and DRC-specific DEI news to share resources and collaborate. See the recap from the group’s last meeting.

We continued to share resources with the business community.

Each month the DRC produces a resource blog to help companies and individuals celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion. A few examples are our blogs on Juneteenth, Pride, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Latina Equal Pay Day, Veterans Day, and Native American Heritage Month. We also created two interview series for Women’s Equality Day and Hispanic Heritage Month featuring a diverse group of prominent business leaders in Dallas.

We also recently launched a holiday gift guide featuring women-owned businesses in advance of our 2022 Women’s Business Conference (WBC) on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022. In addition to the WBC’s traditional lineup of inspiring speakers and leaders, the program will also include an exciting community marketplace featuring some of the Dallas Region founders, creators, and entrepreneurs featured in the guide.

We infused DEI into our leadership programs.

Leadership Dallas (LD): Leadership Dallas is the DRC’s premier leadership program for executives from the top companies and community organizations in the Dallas Region. This year, we created the Diversity in Leadership scholarship to support LD applicants from underestimated backgrounds that needed financial assistance to participate. Seven companies from our DEI Council contributed financially to this scholarship. Learn more about Leadership Dallas and the scholarship.

We also brought the LD class project selection process, which provides capacity-building services to a nonprofit, in-house for the first time. This year, we focused on nonprofits based in South Dallas that work to improve residents’ quality of life. The class project applications were based on five focus areas in alignment with the DRC’s strategic priorities:

      • Economic Development and Economic Mobility
      • Criminal Justice and Reentry
      • Education and Workforce Development
      • Public Policy
      • Quality of Life (Health and Wellness, Food Scarcity, Parks and Outdoors, Arts)

The current LD 2022 class selected Jubilee Park and Community Center as their nonprofit, and the project will help the center design and implement a community food pantry. The class is currently working with Jubilee staff to define the full scope of the project and the amount of funds that will be raised by the class.

In addition, we developed and kicked off the Transformative Leadership curriculum for LD, which brings in DEI experts once a month to address inclusive and agile leadership. This year, the class will also read Jim Schutze’s “The Accommodation” as part of their experience, and we will be partnering with Dallas Dinner Table to host a private dinner to discuss race in Dallas.

Young Professionals (YP): Earlier this year, the YP group launched its Diverse Leaders Series of events focused on highlighting a diverse group of leaders sharing their experiences in the workplace. The YP Women’s Network addressed allyship in their programming, and YP also hosted Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, for a private fireside chat in October.

We walked the talk with our internal DRC staff.

To enable all employees to have a voice in the DRC’s internal DEI efforts, the DRC created the Internal DEI Committee in March of last year. The purpose of this employee-led committee is to promote an inclusive work environment by recognizing the diversity of the DRC’s workforce, providing ideas and feedback about internal DEI initiatives, and championing DEI efforts within the DRC.

The committee is inclusive of the diverse backgrounds of the DRC’s staff, and it includes representation from every DRC department. President and CEO Dale Petroskey is the executive sponsor of the committee, with the SVP of DEI and the VP of HR serving as senior sponsors. The committee has met monthly and provided regular progress updates to the senior leadership team and full staff.

Some of the work the committee has done includes:

      • Hosting monthly “courageous conversation” sessions that provide staff a safe space to discuss their experiences and desired changes.
      • Organizing a DEI book club, beginning with “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo.
      • Developing and launching two internal surveys to measure DEI knowledge and employee experience. We will use the data from these surveys to develop a training plan for 2022.

In addition to launching the Internal DEI Committee, the DRC implemented several new internal policies and practices, including:

      • A more comprehensive parental leave policy that includes adoption and foster assistance and coverage for LGBTQ partners.
      • A new, more gender-neutral “dress for your day” policy.
      • A flexible work schedule to allow employees to work remotely two days per week.
      • A hiring practice that ensures there is a diverse panel of interviewers for all positions.
      • A pay equity study based on race/ethnicity and gender to assess compensation practices by pay bands and workforce composition in our market.
      • A new hire buddy program that pairs new employees with more tenured employees outside of their department to foster more inclusion.

Learn more about the DRC’s DEI work on our DEI webpage.