Last year, the country was shaken by a string of senseless killings of several unarmed Black people, including the highly-publicized murder of George Floyd on May 25. These tragic events and the social unrest that followed sparked passionate conversations around the country about racial equity, including here in Dallas.
With the support of 100 business leaders, the DRC made a public commitment in The Dallas Morning News 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.
After making that commitment, the DRC acted quickly and decisively to take three historic actions.
First, the DRC Board of Directors created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, a permanent Board-level council. We purposely organized the DEI Council so that the DRC Board chair and incoming chair would always serve as co-chairs, ensuring that DEI will always be a high priority of the Board. When we asked for volunteers, more than 50 Board members raised their hands to serve.
We organized the DEI Council into four sub-councils:
- Diversity in Leadership
- Community Investment in Underserved Areas
- Education and Workforce
- Policing and Criminal Justice Policies
Second, the DRC added Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as one of our four core pillars in our new three-year strategic plan (2021-2023).
Third, in October 2020, the DRC hired two full-time senior leaders to spearhead our efforts around DEI and Community Engagement – Jared Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President for DEI, and Latosha Herron-Bruff, Senior Vice President for Community Engagement. We expanded the team to include a Manager of DEI, AnaChrista Robles, in February 2021.
Several Board members invested in launching the DEI efforts.
To be successful, the DRC needed business to financially support the DEI efforts. When we asked for help, the Dallas Mavericks raised their hand and generously invested $100,000. Hilti North America and Jacobs Engineering also contributed $50,000 each. All three organizations have Board members that serve on the DEI Council.
SHARING THE DEI COUNCIL’S PROGRESS
The DEI Council began meeting in September 2020 and has made significant progress over the last nine months, growing from 50 to 70 members. See the full list of DEI Council members and companies. Below is a progress update with key highlights for each sub-council.
Diversity in Leadership
- Launched the first DRC Board Diversity Survey, with a 99% completion rate.
- Created the Diversity in Leadership scholarship for Leadership Dallas applicants from underestimated backgrounds who may need financial assistance to participate. Learn more about Leadership Dallas and the scholarship.
- Brought together a community of DEI leaders at companies across DFW to meet bi-monthly to share resources and facilitate collaboration. See the recap from the group’s last meeting.
- Developed a diversity in tech hiring toolkit in collaboration with Accenture, which will be launched in summer 2021. The toolkit will feature sourcing and hiring best practices from leading employers, highlight talent pipeline organizations and professional groups focused on tech workers, and catalog tools to help recruit from more diverse talent pools.
Education and Workforce
- Led a statewide coalition of business organizations to press the legislature and state leadership on plans for the release of over $22 billion in federal stimulus funding for public and higher education.
- Increased the number of companies who are actively engaging in local talent development and hiring through Dallas Thrives. Learn more about Dallas Thrives.
- DRC staff served on the advisory group for the United Way Pathways to Work and presented workforce equity recommendations to the sub-council. Learn more about Pathways to Work.
- DRC staff served as a convener for OneTen employer and talent developer roundtables. Learn more about OneTen.
Community Investment in Underserved Areas
- Amplified efforts to bring new jobs and economic development to Southern Dallas County. Worked with 17 companies to evaluate relocation and expansion opportunities in the area.
- Contributed $250,000 to 13 nonprofit organizations, the majority in Southern Dallas County, to help support economic development in historically marginalized communities. Learn more about the organizations we supported.
- Raised the profile of several community organizations, including the Healthy Dallas Food Initiative, which is working to increase the number of non-traditional food access points, in low-income, underserved communities across Dallas. Learn more about the Healthy Dallas Food Initiative.
- Created a new DRC Southern Dallas County Economic Development Guide website, which will be launched in summer 2021. The guide includes hyperlocal content on transit/connectivity, talent, business development, living, community impact, and city/micro market areas in Southern Dallas County.
Policing and Criminal Justice Policies
- Established a relationship with new Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia and his staff. The sub-council will be hosting Chief Garcia on June 7.
- Sent a letter to Governor Abbott with the signatures of 37 DRC Board members advocating for common-sense police reforms and increased training and accountability.
- During the 87th Texas Legislative Session, the DRC dropped a card in support of several pieces of legislation, including HB 88 – The George Floyd Act; SB 23 – The Back the Blue Act; andHB 929 – The Botham Jean Act.
- Sent a letter of support with signatures from 20 DRC Board member companies to Chairman Cyrier – the House author for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) for HB 1550 – to have one of the representatives on the Blue Ribbon Panel be a business representative. Sub-council co-chairs Chris Nielsen, Hilda Galvan, and Rafael Lizardi virtually met with Chairman Cyrier and successfully advocated for adding a business representative to the Blue Ribbon Panel.
VACCINE PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
As the FDA began approving vaccines, the DRC Board decided that helping our community get back to life as quickly as possible was something that the business community should strongly support. Our Board approved a plan to engage in a public awareness campaign to help our community get back to life and get our freedoms back. Boston Consulting Group, a DRC member, helped get us started by dedicating one of their key staff members to the project for several weeks. We also selected Edelman and JBJ management as our communications partners to help us with the public awareness campaign that will launch in June. Our efforts will be in mostly Black and Hispanic communities in Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Tarrant Counties, and focused on those who want to be vaccinated, but who have not yet had reliable access to information about the vaccines, or might have challenges getting to a vaccine site.
RACIAL EQUITY COALITION
The DRC partnered with the Dallas Citizen’s Council, the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and Boston Consulting Group to launch a racial equity coalition in September 2020. The goal of this coalition is to use our collective influence and resources to advance equity for Black and Hispanic communities through actionable policies and initiatives from the private sector.
Since inception, the coalition has met with community leaders to understand current racial equity efforts in Dallas and has developed a research dossier of racial inequities across education, economics, health, housing and transportation, and justice and government. Most importantly, the coalition has identified over 75 levers that the private sector can use to advance racial equity within their organizations, along with key equity metrics to track progress. The coalition is now preparing to launch into the next phase by convening a working group of private sector organizations.
SHARING RESOURCES WITH THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
Each month the DRC produces a blog to help companies celebrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Some examples include Black History, Women’s History, Equal Pay Day, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage, and Pride.
On April 13, the DRC hosted a Talent Attraction Talk on Diversity in Recruiting. The DRC convened talent acquisition leaders from BGSF, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, and Hilti North America to share strategies in building more diverse workforces – from candidate sourcing all the way through the hiring process. Learn more about key takeaways from this event.
On June 22, the DRC will launch our inaugural State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) event. Our goal for this event is to help make meaningful introductions that foster collaboration and facilitate opportunities for businesses and the community to accelerate progress on shared goals around DEI. Join us as we highlight the work of partners as they share their success in advancing equity in the Dallas Region. Register for the event.
The DRC’s leadership programs – Leadership Dallas, Leadership Dallas Alumni, and Young Professionals – engaged program participants in meaningful conversations on racial equity issues. The broad spectrum of topics range from implications of public policies, to access to healthcare and education, to economic mobility and criminal justice. The YP Annual Leader Series focused on highlighting diverse leaders, while the YP Women’s Network addressed the importance of collaboration with other organizations who support these goals. All programs are focused on ensuring the DEI lens is considered within all aspects of the programming and have added additional committees or leadership roles focused on DEI within their Advisory Councils.
INTERNAL DEI COMMITTEE
To enable all employees to have a voice in the DRC’s internal DEI efforts, the DRC created the Internal DEI Committee. The purpose of this employee-led committee is to promote an inclusive work environment by recognizing the diversity of the DRC’s workforce, provide ideas and feedback about internal DEI initiatives, and champion DEI efforts within the DRC.
When the committee was announced in February 2021, over one third of the DRC staff raised their hands to serve. The committee launched in March 2021 and meets monthly, with regular progress updates to senior leadership and the full staff.