Capacity Interactive (CI) created and published a list of Anti-Racism Commitments in June 2020. This public statement outlined our action plan for becoming an anti-racist organization and served as an accountability mechanism. As a part of this statement, we committed to reporting on our progress (you can see our update from Q1 2021 here!)
This blog post highlights our progress from Q2 2021—I hope it sparks inspiration and courage to enact necessary change at your organization.
In May, we welcomed over a dozen new employees to the CI team, which increased our staff by one-third. It was the first time we had new employees in over a year, and it signified a pivotal moment at CI. Since June 2020, we have been working to turn our Anti-Racism Commitments into actual policies. Our staff had been relatively unchanged during that time; what would it mean to include a new crop of employees into the mix?
I’m here to tell you that this transition affirmed our policies that were contributing to positive change and exposed the policies that were no longer serving us. I am so grateful for our new team members who took the invitation for feedback seriously and had a seat at the table to help CI move forward. We’ve used the past quarter to slow down, refocus our energy, and continue to tease together systems and programs that serve our entire staff.
What We’re Working On
Below is a rundown of what The Arena Team has been working on in Q2 2021.
Clients and External Committee
This committee handles our relationships with clients and external-facing events, such as Boot Camp and CI to Eye Live.
Digital Marketing Partnership Grant: In our previous updates, we’ve teased a new partnership grant dedicated to extending our consulting services to BIPOC-serving and BIPOC-led organizations and organizations that center BIPOC arts and culture. We’re excited to launch the program this month! You can see all of the details here.
Education and Professional Development Committee
This committee creates internal educational touchpoints.
Receiving Feedback: We received great feedback from one of our Black employees regarding our Artist Spotlight programming. This program gave team members the opportunity to spotlight their favorite BIPOC artists in our weekly staff meeting.
The feedback we received indicated that this program felt primarily geared towards the white folks in the room. We’re using this feedback to zoom out and reimagine what anti-racism and arts education can look like internally.
Hiring and Promotions Committee
This committee examines our hiring and promotions processes to create systems with more diverse stakeholders.
Hiring Advisory Committees: We’ve conducted three searches for new employees in Q2, which provided an excellent opportunity to incorporate a Hiring Advisory Committee into our search process.
The committee is open to all employees at all levels of the company. One committee member is added to each interview as a silent observer (though we make sure to introduce them at the top of the meeting). Members of the committee take notes on their interview experience and are an integral part of discussing candidates in our weekly hiring meetings. Adding more voices to the process gives us richer, more nuanced conversations about candidates and creates a culture of accountability.
I’ve also found that adding an observer is a great way of organically introducing our Anti-Racism commitments from the very first touchpoint with a candidate.
Internal Accountability Committee
This committee examines internal policies and systems, breaks them down, and rebuilds them.
Promotions Process: Many factors can make talking about promotions complicated—for example, confidential human resources information and the financial impact that promotions have on the bottom line of a business. We found ourselves circling quite a bit. Should we blow the whole system up and start over? Should we create a promotions review committee? Do we have enough employees to support yet another committee sustainably? We ultimately decided to start small by simply writing the promotions process down on paper.
As I’m writing this, we’re rolling out our promotions process to our full staff. By putting the process on paper and making it available to our entire staff, it creates another system of accountability at CI. Furthermore, it gives our leadership team a regular template to work off of. I’ll let you know how it goes after we complete our next cycle of reviews in September!
I welcome any feedback or suggestions as we continue our journey towards anti-racism, either in the comments below or via email. Wishing you a peaceful (and cool) conclusion to your summer!