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Looking Inward to Move Forward

The George Floyd murder of May 25, 2020 had a profound effect on Williams Randall. Such a stark demonstration of the racial inequities still plaguing America led us to do some soul searching, as individuals and as a company. Were we doing anything to address America's glaring problems with racial diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI, for short)?

Were we, as an agency without any people of color on staff, part of the problem?

These weren't easy, comfortable conversations to have but, in the wake of Mr. Floyd's murder and the justifiable outrage that followed, they were the only ones worth having. And so, in mid-2020, Williams Randall’s DEI committee was formed and charged with creating a list of DEI-related priorities to add to our existing annual list of agency priorities. Among those priorities: institute an agency-wide DEI training program; learn about the the role unconscious bias plays in creating barriers to minority hiring, then reevaluate our own interviewing and hiring policies and, if necessary, change them to eliminate unconscious bias; and to make Juneteenth - the day commemorating the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation - an official company holiday.

There are a number of excellent racial diversity courses available for a company looking to widen its horizons on the topic. After extensive research, the DEI committee landed on The Harvard Business Review’s Fighting Racism in the Workplace; we found its up-to-the-minute content and nuanced curriculum to be intelligent, clear-eyed and thought-provoking. Since we completed the course as a staff in Fall ‘22, the curriculum has been part of training for all new William Randall hires, and will remain so.

Our investigations around unconscious bias, and whether Williams Randall's hiring processes allowed it to be a factor, led to a couple of results: first, the admission that, yes, it absolutely did, and second, the agency taking concrete steps to alter the process to eliminate unconscious bias as much as possible. As a result, we now redact all potentially biasing content from job candidates' resumes via a third party not involved in the direct hiring process. Further, we've switched to a new candidate evaluation form, one with a much greater emphasis on skills assessment, and that eliminates as much as possible the collection of data that could reflect an unconscious bias—likability, for example.

Juneteenth has been celebrated as a paid company holiday for the past two years at Williams Randall, a practice that will continue for as long as Williams Randall Advertising remains in business.

Since first taking these steps, Williams Randall has increased our staff's diversity. We celebrate this not as an achievement in and of itself, but as a good first step, and an occasion to rededicate ourselves to helping deliver on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's 1968 assertion that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

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