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On the Journey to Becoming an Antiracist Organization

Action for a Better Community of Rochester, N.Y., recently hosted a three-day virtual conference entitled “Racism is a Public Health Crisis—Attacking the two Pandemics.” The event drew more than 500 attendees with a call to action addressing racism and COVID-19 by promoting equity and justice for all.

Each day featured a different theme: establishing why racism is a public health crisis; examining the disparities in health outcomes and healthcare delivery experienced by people of color; and being the healing, which focused on strategies to counteract the inequitable impact of these two pandemics.

As ABC’s board chair I was honored to participate all three days, and Mower was pleased to support the event. Katie Bender, Mower’s vice president of research, attended the third day. Here’s a video of Katie sharing her perspectives.

The conference was inspired by the Black Agenda Group’s declaration that racism is a public health crisis. Mower signed on to the declaration soon after it was issued in May of 2020. The declaration is designed to raise awareness of the issue and, most importantly, motivate individuals and organizations to act.

Our actions at Mower over the past year included a heightened focus on diversity recruiting, designating Juneteenth as an official company holiday, participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, holding unconscious bias training for all staff, conducting an employee survey on racial justice, forming a partnership with One Hundred Black Men of New York and participating in its MLK Day Youth Conference, formalizing a diversity hiring initiative with goals and timeframes, and highlighting the Black professionals in the advertising and marketing industry who have paved the path forward for so many in a series of social media posts during Black History Month.

In the months ahead, all employees will participate in the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (AAAA) Workforce Enlightenment Certification program; we’ll welcome students through the AAAA’s Multicultural Advertising Intern program; develop a diversity, equity and inclusion policy; hold a hybrid virtual and live event to celebrate Juneteenth for employees who would like to participate; host a series of employee conversations about racial justice and related issues; and more.

These actions reflect our commitment to achieving greater diversity, equity and inclusion and, by doing so, working toward becoming an antiracist organization. We know that many other organizations are similarly dedicated to this journey, and we’d like to learn from the steps you’re taking.