An Acknowledgment of our Missteps Related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Our Commitment to Improve:
The Steering Committee and founding organizational partners of In Good Company launched this initiative with the intent of educating and inspiring local companies and their leaders to align their business practices with the overall well-being of the community, then celebrating those who take positive steps forward. The idea was simple—if more of our local businesses were authentically connected to building our community, not only would the well-being of all residents of Lancaster County improve, but those businesses would be more sustainable and profitable in the long term. Inherent in that vision of the future for our business community and overall community was the foundational premise of economic justice.
We launched In Good Company in early-February with a well-attended event for business owners and executives. Our target audience for this effort was businesses with over 20 employees. We succeeded in having the leaders of many of the largest companies in the county represented at the event, and many of those went on to sign the In Good Company Pledge. However, in looking at the audience the morning of our launch, it was clear that the attendees did not adequately represent the demographics of our county. Nor, in fact, did the presenters on stage. To state it clearly—people of color were not well-represented.
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Because of this, we collectively pressed pause at that point to allow our business community to sort through what would be, for many, an incredibly challenging period of time. Our effort had gone largely silent for three months when the incredibly brutal and heartless murder of George Floyd sparked national and local protests. At this point, our Steering Committee gathered and collectively felt that the protests had sparked a ‘moment’ in time that could, if cultivated, lead to a positive movement and create real change within the Lancaster County business community. We drafted a letter on behalf of our local businesses committing them to real change. We then invited business leaders from across Lancaster County to add their signatures and company logos to that letter. In the letter, business owners acknowledge disparities in economic opportunity and commitment to addressing them through hiring policies, advancement opportunities, purchasing decisions, and pay practices.
While we are proud of In Good Company, the original pledge, and the additional letter on systemic racism, we’ve done some serious self-reflection as to how we’ve gone about creating In Good Company. We collectively agreed that the launch event, despite many of its successes, unacceptably excluded people of color. Additionally, having a steering committee for this initiative that lacked in racial or ethnic diversity is equally unacceptable, especially if we are going to take a stand and inspire companies to address racial inequities in their own businesses. We were working on an effort with a foundation in economic justice, promoting a business movement toward racial justice, but we were doing all of this without any representation of people of color. While attempting to make a positive impact, we were, in effect, perpetuating the exclusionary governance and decision-making practices that have enabled systemic racism to thrive in our community and our nation for centuries.
This statement is a public acknowledgment of our missteps related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a commitment to improve.
Here’s what we are doing now:
- We are reconstituting the In Good Company governance structure by adding diverse business leaders onto our Steering Committee
- We will make all future decisions for In Good Company through the lens of equity and inclusion.
- We will do specific and intentional outreach to businesses owned, led by people-of-color, and other minority leaders on behalf of In Good Company to ensure inclusion in this movement.
- We will design and connect to programming that is accessible, relevant, and meaningful to all businesses in our community.
- And, we will remain open to input and further change to position In Good Company as a connecting point for all Lancaster County companies to use their businesses for good.