Make a lasting commitment to inclusion

p 1 beyond juneteenth

When President Biden signed laws final week designating June 19—Juneteenth—a federal vacation, it marked a important second in historical past following a yr of protests and amplified requires equality. 2020 was a yr of racial reckoning that sparked a wave of activism throughout the nation. Firms denounced racism within the office and, to present solidarity with their Black workforce members, had been already giving workers the break day on Juneteenth. The brand new federal vacation is the primary new one since Jan. 17 was made Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. 

Actually acknowledging Juneteenth goes far past a single day of commemoration—it means making a lasting commitment to the BIPOC neighborhood by constructing a extra inclusive office. My firm, Storyblocks, is early on our journey, and whereas every group has completely different groups with completely different lived experiences, there are a few tangible classes we’ve discovered over the previous yr primarily based on what works and what doesn’t. 

Acknowledgement is motion

Acknowledging Juneteenth as a vacation is appreciated, however corporations ought to embrace it as a leaping off level for a deeper dialog along with your group, and develop a technique that encourages change and creates values which might be in line with inclusion and variety. The commemoration of Juneteenth as a federal vacation has been broadcast throughout all main information websites and may be a nice catalyst to begin a significant dialog in regards to the significance of acknowledging the day and constructing a extra inclusive work surroundings. 


Associated:  6 issues to find out about Juneteenth


Making a assertion towards racism or posting one thing on social media might really feel nice, however these performative actions aren’t what create a extra inclusive surroundings. It’s essential to keep away from “empty activism” actions like statements or public gestures that lack substantive observe up actions.

Selling variety within the office can’t be regarded as a one-step answer or a mountain to climb. We’ll by no means attain the metaphorical “prime” of that mountain. It should all the time be acknowledged that selling variety is a persevering with journey that’s riddled with ups and downs as companies experiment, fail, be taught and enhance. 

Decelerate your hiring practices

Many corporations begin by their recruiting practices. The error that too many make is approaching the method with the mindset that there gained’t be commerce offs with recruiting. Change begins with slowing down and inspecting the corporate’s operations to see the place extra inclusive practices may be applied and the way to higher maintain the workforce accountable to these adjustments. For us, this included taking a have a look at our hiring practices and making the commitment to rent underrepresented workers throughout all groups, and all ranges. Hiring underrepresented workers takes extra effort and time, however the expertise is there. For those who actually need to commit to extra inclusive hiring practices, you will have to be prepared to decelerate.

There’s an “I” in DEI

Illustration in your expertise pipeline is just one a part of the equation. Making a parallel commitment to help and retain numerous workers by inspecting onboarding, coaching and efficiency administration applications is equally vital. As we dug into our personal behaviors, we realized that the whole lot from the way in which that we use knowledge, to the way in which we onboard new workforce members impacted communities inside Storyblocks in a different way, relying on their lived experiences. 

Fast fixes like implementing a Chief Range Officer can typically contradict a firm’s commitments to DEI. Slightly than appointing an underrepresented particular person to a management function, and giving them the purpose of constructing a extra inclusive tradition, corporations ought to as a substitute concentrate on inserting BIPOC and underrepresented people in numerous roles throughout all ranges of the enterprise. This fosters a shared possession mannequin somewhat than inserting all the accountability on a single CDO.

 One of the crucial highly effective methods to enhance inclusivity is guaranteeing illustration on the government and workforce lead ranges that mirrors the broader firm objectives. These leaders will typically function hiring managers, which can naturally draw candidates who worth a numerous office, and in addition show to extra junior workforce members that there’s a possibility for everybody to develop and advance.

At Storyblocks, we discovered that we had been at our greatest when everybody rolled up their sleeves and acquired to work inspecting how we might make our group extra inclusive. We wouldn’t have made any progress if the accountability was on one individual, as a substitute, it took our total workforce to outline the technique and milestones that we consider will lead to a extra numerous and inclusive office. 

It’s additionally vital that the work your organization is doing aligns with variety and inclusivity. Though this may look barely completely different for each enterprise, for Storyblocks, this entailed inspecting our subscription inventory media providing and brainstorming how we might make it extra numerous and inclusive. Prior to the pandemic, we had been within the early phases of rolling out Re:Stock, an initiative devoted to growing the diploma of BIPOC illustration in our library. Throughout the pandemic, we determined to make this purpose much more aggressive, and dedicated to having BIPOC content material symbolize 20% of our library by 2022. When making a commitment to variety, it’s vital to not solely foster this dedication within the office, however to be sure the precise work itself aligns with such commitments. 

An area to be heard 

A serious step in working to make Storyblocks extra inclusive was creating a protected house for underrepresented workers to have a voice. Past recognizing Juneteenth, it’s important for corporations to take tangible steps to facilitate this surroundings and provoke discussions in regards to the experiences of Black workers. 

At Storyblocks, we started with forming Black Storyblocks, a neighborhood devoted to creating a firm the place Black people aspire to work and construct long-term careers. This “house” might look completely different for every group, however exhibiting Black workers that their voices are valued is a vital first step in creating an ongoing dialogue. 

Conversations like these may be political in nature, and may be extremely tough. Leaning into that discomfort and acknowledging that it’s a crucial ingredient for progress is a necessary step in creating a extra inclusive tradition. 

Create a plan for the long run

Rome wasn’t in-built a day, and also you’re not going to unwind centuries of systemic racism in a quarter. It’s far too simple to your commitment to fade away as soon as the dialog on social media quiets down, however corporations that need to acknowledge and embrace Juneteenth want to make a plan and commit to enacting longstanding change inside their group. This course of isn’t about making a guidelines of steps to tick off over the following quarter and even yr. As a substitute, that is an ongoing goal that wants to be revisited annually throughout your planning cycles. Like rising income, constructing an inclusive tradition requires you to outline success, set up priorities, measure influence, replicate and iterate on technique over time. 

Whereas this journey appears to be like completely different for every group, at Storyblocks we wish to construct a firm that displays the communities we serve. This contains native demographics, in addition to the broader artistic financial system. We’ve set tailor-made objectives for every of our departments to assist monitor our progress. 

We’re proud to dwell in an America the place Juneteenth is now a federal vacation, however acknowledging Juneteenth means a lot greater than closing the workplace for a day. Creating a extra numerous, equitable and inclusive surroundings is an expertise distinctive to every firm. There isn’t any prescriptive playbook you may observe. You’ll make errors, however if you’re prepared to make an everlasting commitment additionally, you will make progress. That appears like a step value taking.


TJ Leonard is the CEO of Storyblocks, the primary and largest subscription-based platform offering limitless inventory content material and instruments for creators to sustain with the rising demand for video. Storyblocks has been acknowledged by the Inc. 5000 record seven consecutive years and has been acknowledged as one in all Washington D.C.’s High Workplaces by The Washington Put up.