Embracing the conversation – The reawakening of civil rights movements in the workplace

Embracing the conversation – The reawakening of civil rights movements in the workplace

The 2020 murders of Ahmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd within a three month span of one another brought discussions about racial-social justice to dining rooms and boardrooms alike; and just like with the African-American catalysts before them, their tragedies reopened the door to larger discussions around economic, social, and civil rights.

Alongside religion, politics, and pay; race has historically been a socially taboo topic in the work environment but when these divisive discussions replanted themselves at the forefront of every form of media we consume, there was no other option but to embrace the conversation. Not a new conversation, but a continuation of a narrative that laments itself across the history of the United States. 

Adjacent to that same narrative, is a parallel of progress. As we enter “Black History Month” we should go with the awareness that African American History IS American History. From the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through each of its subsequent amendments, the removal of each discriminatory barrier also created additional opportunities for other marginalized groups, and further enabled women, the disabled, and LGBTQ communities to push for their own inclusion in American society.

The 13th Amendment,  Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and the Civil Rights Act of 1957 are the parents of our modern-day Civil Rights Movements, and our work today in DE&I is another of their many grandchildren.

While the last year may have brought a pandemic alongside periods of social unrest, it also delivered awareness and renewed attention to issues long unsolved, and oft ignored. Our summer was filled with organizations large and small declaring their commitment to positively impacting society and working towards a more equitable future. However, history shows us that declarations alone are not enough to get us to our goal of having an equitable society. Otherwise, we’d be there already. Culture shifts of this kind require community. Allies to be gathered, leadership figures to be called to action, and a conscious-collaborative effort towards the goal of inclusion.

Our DE&I organization, born alongside a period of protest just as the social movements of our past, has thus far been Cloudera’s response to “embracing the conversation.” Moving forward with a committed investment to upholding an equitable environment and actively managing diversity and inclusion in such a way that the benefits are maximized. 

But what does maximization look like?

For starters, it means cleaning up your own house first. Data-driven goals alone are great, but before we jump to metricized methods of success it’s imperative that we first address our culture and establish a safe space for marginalized voices to be heard. Having an honest assessment of the organization, engaging with the internal community, and then developing a strategy for success as we would behind any other business initiative are key. 

As we approach the one-year anniversary of what many have considered a “reawakening,” of discussions around equity and equality in the workplace, I’d like to invite each of you to join the conversation and be an ally of the service being done to continue reshaping our communities.  If you’re not certain where to begin, I’d recommend you start by asking yourself one question; “Is my house clean?”

To learn more about Cloudera’s Diversity, Equality, & Inclusion efforts, follow along here on our Cloudera Culture Blog.  If you would like to explore opportunities to join our journey, visit our careers page.

Marque Blackman
Sr. Program Manager, Diversity Equality + Inclusion at Cloudera
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