Our lives are peppered with choices. These choices usually are tied to the routine decisions of life, with questions that are linked to the fulfillment of basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Then there are some questions that mark our lives. These questions typically are associated with inflection points that help us understand and clarify who we are and what we stand for. The same can be said of companies, particularly in governance, as corporate leaders face watershed moments in their firms’ histories that make them assess what their firms truly value and they must make decisions that will affect their employees and the communities around them.
In 2020, we saw U.S. corporations face weighty questions that have left a mark, particularly on racial injustice. Many corporations published statements condemning racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and other African Americans who were victims of institutionalized violence, including violence by law enforcement. According to “As You Sow” (AYS), an environmental and social corporate responsibility nonprofit organization, 66% of S&P 500 companies made corporate solidarity statements last year. Some of these institutions are committed to promoting social justice by providing funding for nonprofits related to racial justice and engaging in policies associated with promoting antiracism.
Like these companies, GBB is re-emphasizing its commitment to uphold the laws of this nation and our responsibilities and values in writing. To this end, corporate leadership provided a statement to employees last year condemning racial injustice each and every day and then created a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) group that is working to formalize the firm’s commitments and strategies for change. The newly formed DEIJ group, composed of senior leadership and staff, serves as a forum to voice views regarding lawful actions that the company could take to continue to enhance equality in the workplace and an inclusive community.
With its DEIJ group, GBB is considering both corporate and human resource activities, such as cultural sensitivity training and community outreach. One first step has been to form a more significant commitment to more inclusive hiring practices to help ensure equal opportunity among qualified candidates. GBB has expanded its search for candidate solid waste consultants and engineers by using platforms such as Handshake that reach a wide field of participating educational institutions including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as others. GBB has also begun to research how the career centers at these colleges assist candidates with virtual resources for participating in screening interviews. GBB will continue to look for ways to engage colleges further by developing more outreach opportunities. Additionally, the firm is strengthening relationships with qualified minority-owned, disabled-owned, and women-owned businesses across the U.S. to serve as partners on projects.
Monitoring is integral to the vision of GBB’s action-oriented social justice and workplace equality planning. Once complete, implementation of key policies and programs on equality and workforce diversity will be evaluated and made public. In this way, GBB is not only expressing its support for diversity, equality, equity, inclusion, and justice in our community, but holding ourselves accountable as well.