What is a pledge but a promise? Something you say you’re going to do. People make promises. Good companies do, too. This site is a living, breathing organism and a testament to the promises we're making. It will change and update over time. Last June, we started having open and honest dialogues about systemic racism and since then, we’ve worked to bring this experience to an online space. Today, it houses the promises we're making and how we arrived at them. We've spent the last few months taking a very honest look inside—within ourselves, within our organization—to really see where inequity hides. And we found something we're not proud of: a realization that not everyone here has the same experience. But we're ready to respond. We're ready to play the long game. At BASIC/DEPT®, we believe in a world where we not only feel safe despite our differences but also champion, celebrate, and uplift them. It’s time to make new promises. It’s time to hear more voices.
In the sections below, we share our process, our learnings, and our actions. We are willing students in this process: studying, listening, experimenting, trying, failing, learning, and doing it all over again. Join us on this journey.
"No one is immune from systemic racism and inequity."
The spark of George Floyd and the subsequent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement has awakened us to the systemic racism that exists in our country. We now see that systemic racism has permeated all aspects of our society. BASIC/DEPT® is a BIPOC-founded agency that has always believed in creating a rich culture where colors, ideologies, and ideas can collide. But we recognize that we are part of this society. To fight systemic racism, we knew we had to do more.
We wanted to be long-term and strategically oriented. We wanted to be thorough. We feared we had blind spots—even the best of intentions cannot get it right all the time. So, we took action:
- We formed a cohort with members of all races, sexual orientations, genders, ages, and ideologies. This collective is focused on staying connected to the needs of the changing organization. It's designed to be a center of excellence around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. To date, it has served as a safe space to talk about these issues, a bridge to the community, and a steward of ongoing and future DE&I efforts.
- The collective brings focus to our company, harnessing the power of all departments to realize our mission.
- We hired a consultant to help us see what we could not see on our own.
- We initiated a study to understand where our gaps in experience were. We sent a survey out to employees to understand everything from belonging to representation to feelings of empowerment. We also conducted a needs analysis to help us prioritize our efforts and carried out an impact analysis on our DE&I project ideas. We wanted to avoid reactionary or bandwagon ideas in favor of ones that were more homegrown, long-term, and needs-based.
"Even considering we are a more diverse agency, we still had to take a deep dive, and what we realized was that not everyone's experience was the same."
With 83% of the company responding to the survey, we now have a strong understanding of the varied experiences across different segments of our employees. Representation-wise across all offices, we are 20% Asian, 3% Black, 13% Hispanic/Latinx, 8% Multi-ethnic, and 56% white. We are more diverse than the average agency, so we must work harder to ensure an environment of inclusion and equity exists for all of our people. Here are some insights:
There are numerous signs of a positive work environment:
- Feeling safe with gender, race, and sexual orientation is over 85%.
- 70% of respondents feel a positive sense of belonging.
- 68% feel positively empowered to advance their careers.
However, not everyone has the same experience at BASIC®, and we now see that we have three core experience challenges:
- On average, our BIPOC employees feel less represented, less safe when speaking up, and less empowered to grow their careers.
- Our female employees struggle to see themselves represented in leadership, are not as comfortable with speaking up, and feel less empowered to advance their careers.
- Our LGBTQ+ employees don't feel as safe when expressing themselves and feel/are less represented.
By contrast, our white employees (based on their responses) feel more represented; feel safer when speaking up; and feel more empowered. We now see this spectrum of experience.
A Spectrum of Experience*
THE IMPACT OF DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES
"In order to see eye to eye with our colleagues given our different histories, we need to understand the ways in which fortunate circumstances have contributed to our skillsets and the ways in which they have impacted others."
In doing this study, we gained a clearer understanding of what privilege actually is and how it can impact work performance. We also understand race-based challenges more deeply as well as their psychological and professional impact.
To illustrate this point, we evaluated the two segments of our organization with the most divergent experiences: white males and BIPOC females.
The experience of white males (based on survey responses):
- Are more represented in the company.
- Are more represented in leadership.
- They feel this (having the highest scores on the prompts “I feel myself represented at BASIC®” and “I feel myself represented in the leadership at BASIC/DEPT®”).
- They feel safer with their race and gender.
- They feel like they belong more than the average.
- They feel safer when expressing their points of view.
- They feel more empowered to pursue their careers.
- Across every dimension, they score the highest.
This should be a foundational experience for every single person on the planet—but unfortunately, it is not. This is actual privilege. Seeing yourself represented, feeling safe, being able to freely express yourself, and forging ahead in your career.
The Impact: This sets up a paradigm where success, performance, flow, and impact are much easier (though clearly not guaranteed) because they have the privilege to solely focus on the needs of the role. They don’t have any race or gender-based emotional, social, or psychological barriers to navigate.
The experience of BIPOC females (based on our survey responses):
- Are less represented at the company.
- Are not represented in leadership.
- They very much feel this lack of representation (scoring the lowest on the same prompts above).
- They feel less safe on average with their race and gender.
- They feel neutral to under average about belonging.
- They feel less safe when expressing their points of view.
- They feel less empowered to pursue their careers.
- Across almost all dimensions, they score the lowest.
The Impact: We now clearly see that there is a powerful emotional and psychological toll of these factors. BIPOC females have to not only navigate the job needs but also all the associated feelings and psychological pressure of not positively belonging, not feeling entirely safe, and not feeling empowered. This sets up a paradigm where success, performance, flow, and impact are much more difficult.
While none of this experience is intentionally created, we accept it as a reality of our times and the experience of BASIC/DEPT® right now—and we promise to change it.