Small Steps for Lasting Change: Getting to Work on DEI

small-steps

As we have gone through the last couple years with the pandemic and social unrest, we have all been making many adjustments and have faced many stark realities about how far our society has yet to go on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues. Through this, I have appreciated the support and encouragement Citisoft has provided our team. Several of our team members have stepped up to provide opportunities to have the hard conversations, face some difficult realities, and especially to open the opportunity to make a difference.

Although no place has seemed to be immune, living in Minnesota, the unrest of the last year literally hit close to home for me. It brought in strong relief the inequities and gaps that exist. The enormity of the problem is both a call to action and overwhelming; how as an individual can one make a difference? This is where Citisoft’s DEI forum has helped show a way to make a difference that can have lasting impact.

Like many companies, Citisoft has been proactive in updating policies and procedures to support and reinforce our commitment to DEI, but more significantly, Citisoft has fostered a forum for us to address DEI concerns and priorities. The forum has provided us a place to have the uncomfortable conversations, be made aware of some of the startling statistics surrounding discriminated groups, and listen to guest speakers to open our minds and awareness to those who have been excluded. To me, though, the best thing the DEI forum has done is to provide a way for us to do something about the issues we’re discussing.

At the outset of the year, we formed three sub-committees (more details on those at our website’s CSR page) to address specific areas of action for Citisoft. This year, I have chaired our Volunteerism and Charitable Giving committee which has worked internally to align Citisoft internal values with our volunteer and giving priorities. Based on an employee survey and the valuable input of my fellow committee members, we made education a priority for our efforts this year.

While it is critical to provide essential services, food, and shelter to those in need, many of us felt that lasting change can be achieved by helping people unlock the potential inside themselves. Recognizing this, Citisoft has chosen to partner with Junior Achievement (JA) whose mission it is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed.

JA relies heavily on volunteers and has a proven structure and proven results. Around the globe, JA has provided essential financial management, work readiness, and entrepreneur skills to millions. JA focuses considerable effort on reaching into the inner-city schools where the greatest difference for individuals can be made—cutting through the cultural bias and messages from society thereby helping kids see the potential they have. JA has a great summary of their positive impact here.

Given the ongoing COVID restrictions and limitations, our initial engagement from Citisoft has been small but growing. We have had a few team members able to support some of the summer JA programs and are looking forward to supporting their fall programs.

A few hours a week over a couple months is truly a small step but as we make time to support these great programs, small steps help us cut through discrimination and unlock the power of individuals. This has the power to change their world, lift those around them, and unlock their potential to contribute to and enrich society at large. When we contribute a small amount of money or volunteer our time for programs like JA, it is truly a way we can turn small steps into lasting change.

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