by Sarah Rose Belok
I am proud to share the work of my colleagues Max MacMillan and Michael Muniz who exemplify our employee-driven momentum and commitment to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace at Alley. In collaboration, they designed and led a company-wide Equity Challenge over 21 days. I am excited (and honored!) to share it with you with hope that you’ll be inspired to follow suit.
This format was based on the work of Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick-Parks to provide a framework for people to study, question, and communicate around topics of racial equity and social justice. Each day, folks choose from curated resources to challenge how they think about equity in different arenas of life, including housing, food stability, intersectionality, education, employment, and healthcare.
Motivated by the momentum of our company-wide workshop-”How to become an Antiracist,” facilitated by Nadia Jones, founder of Culture Cipher -Max and Michael curated a comprehensive curriculum, built an arc of learning, and devised a strategy for engaging Alley’s internationally distributed team in conversations about how inequity and racism affect our lives and community. Folks from across roles, teams, and interests at the company came together to share and discuss their experiences. As Max shared:
“It was a very intimate conversation to ask people to have, to be vulnerable in this way. It brings forth aspects of people’s personality that you don’t always get to see. There were many small victories. It was a new experience to struggle together around non-work-related or client-related ideas. And we really came from a place of humility and spirit as facilitators. We’re not experts-we are all considering different lines of questioning together.”
Michael also spoke to cultivating this type of unique space for sharing within Alley:
“We were ready to make our rumbling visible. No guilt or judgement. We tried to make it as accessible as possible. And the group gave us a treat by giving us access to different perspectives. We made this visible and said, here are the tools, join us if you like.”
“We made this visible and said, here are the tools; join us if you like.”
At this point, we can imagine you are wondering, how do I lead my own 21-Day Equity Challenge? I know you will learn as much as I did from Max and Michael’s processes and what they saw as the core successes and challenges of the 21-Day Equity Challenge described next.
Step 1: Decide the WHAT.
Step 2: Decide the HOW.
Step 3: Decide on the WHEN.
Step 4: Set EXPECTATIONS.
- Stay engaged.
- Experience discomfort.
- Speak your truth.
- Expect and accept nonclosure.
- Thread discussions in our #belonging — DEI focused Slack channel.
Step 5: Host the CHALLENGE.
Here is an example of a typical day’s activity during the 21 Day Equity Challenge:
- Monday — Employment & Equal Pay
- Tuesday — Voting Rights & Representation in Government
- Wednesday — Intersectionality
- Thursday — Healthcare
- Friday — Food Security & Nutrition
- Saturday/Sunday — Open Ended, Dr. Eddie Moore has an extensive list, select from our list, or choose from the above or your own list of resources.
Step 6: Reflect on Lessons Learned.
As Alley’s first 21-Day Equity Challenge came to a close, Michael and Max reflected on the following lessons they learned with hope that this will save you time when preparing for your own challenge:
The 21-Day Equity challenge is a crucial part of the foundation Alley is laying for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts. Our ambitions are audacious, and in order to get there we’re establishing a baseline of understanding through education, discussion, and becoming more familiar with each other and our differences.
Perhaps most importantly, we’re not passively suggesting folks think about issues of equity. We’re actively organizing opportunities to prioritize it alongside our other work commitments.
We do not see DEI as an extracurricular. I’ve written it before and I will scream it til’ the end of time: We don’t believe in one-hit DEI wonders. We don’t believe in empty gestures of allyship. We believe in “praxis”-acting and reflecting on the world in order to change it.
And that’s exactly why it’s important to celebrate our Frolleagues- friends and c olleagues -like Max and Michael, who are partnering with and motivating others to do just that.
Cover art by @libbyvanderploeg