PhoenixTeam’s DE&I team hosted our second Dinner and Drinks for Black History month. We kicked it off with an interactive activity where team members shared stereotypes and strengths they have experienced personally or indirectly within the Black community. Words such as ‘lazy’, ‘sassy’, ‘loud’, and ‘thugs’ are often used to describe the culture. Accusatory statements such as: Black fathers do not care for their children or all Blacks are involved with drugs and have a criminal record are other stereotypes that carry no merit and certainly no place in our society. As always, we never focus only on the negative and sharing our positive thoughts and impressions of the Black community led to a wonderful, positive vibe as we discovered food, music, culture, and spirituality that represent the best of what we cherish in our diverse country. The Black is Beautiful movement, strength, perseverance, activism through strong leadership are all incredible earmarks of the action that the Black community is taking to make America stronger.
When we opened the discussion to early education of Black culture and origin, we learned that many of our team members grew up with very little exposure and acknowledged that wish they would have had this education in their early life. The conversation was empathetic, gentle, and educational. and Those who shared their thoughts and perspective were incredibly open and honest and our Black colleagues who heard these experiences were gracious and non-judgmental.
At Phoenix, we always want to make sure our team member activities are valuable, and we asked participants what value they received from our Black History Month Dinner & Drinks. Here is what a few of them said:
- Tom Westerlind, Managing Partner: I cherish this time to have meaningful, difficult, and necessary conversations about the real-life experiences of our team members. In the time it takes to complete a meal, I learn and connect with those that participate in a more meaningful way than I can by working with them for several months.
- Daniel Dennis, Salesforce Architect: In addition to being a useful source of new or more in-depth information on DEI topics, regularly setting aside time as a team to gather and learn is valuable because:
- It implicitly sets expectation regarding Phoenix assumptions about how we should treat one another and our clients.
- It normalizes conversations and topics that many people struggle to engage with.
- Damion Campbell, Sr. Practitioner: Professionally, the workplace is comprised of people of different backgrounds. Understanding the backgrounds of our colleagues will help increase the richness of our interactions with them. The same is true of our personal interactions.
- Tony Ronchak, Sr. Practitioner: Love, not hate means empathy over ignorance. I cannot develop empathy if I am not listening. I must look at life through the lens of another human to understand their position and grow my understanding of the right way to treat people. Respect begins here.
- Katie Brewster, Sr. Practitioner: These events provide a safe place to ask questions without humiliation or retaliation. The knowledge shared during DDDE&I helps us grow as humans, so we can do better together.
Our DE&I program offers a great deal of insight, education, and open discussion. PhoenixTeam is very proud of our program and always strives to keep our work environment diverse, equitable, inclusive and always welcoming.