February is a time to come together in celebration of the contributions that Black Americans have made throughout American history and a time to pause and reflect on the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice. The theme of Black History Month this year is, The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. As we take into consideration all that Black History Month represents, I cannot help but think about how timely and appropriate this theme is given all that our country, and specifically our Black neighbors, endured in 2020. While the year has ended, the work for racial justice continues.
At Tompkins, we value diversity both inside and outside of our workplace. We strive to establish and maintain a workplace culture that is inclusive and we want all employees to feel and know that they belong and that they can succeed. We strive every day to ensure that our business is a place where all members of the community feel welcome.
Over the last year, I have had the pleasure of leading our first-ever employee-driven Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging “DIBs” team. My colleagues and I are focused on three key areas:
- Provide our teammates with educational opportunities to increase awareness and broaden perspectives.
- Employee engagement, including encouraging our teammates to participate in monthly celebrations and activities where they are able to share their stories and deepen their relationships with others.
- Empowering employees to have a voice, be part of the solution, and challenge the status quo.
I have seen the power of vulnerability and connectivity come together in enriching the employee experience during some of the worst moments of our lifetime. More and more people are having “different” conversations and getting to know their colleagues at a deeper level while growing both personally and professionally. Our team has felt encouraged and empowered by the support of our Leadership Team and we look forward to continuing to create positive disruption as we challenge written and unwritten norms of our workplace.
As our Tompkins Family honors and celebrates Black Americans, we encourage you to do the same within your workplace, home, and community. Below are some suggestions to help you get started right here in your local community:
- Tompkins Chamber Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training
- Support minority-owned businesses in Tompkins County
This year, Tompkins has taken a particular interest in supporting organizations that focus on diversity, inclusion, and equality in arts, performances, education, and humanitarian initiatives. We are always looking for more ways to support community initiatives that focus on progression and would love to hear from organizations that are looking for help. Leave a comment below!
While we can’t physically come together in ways that we have in past years, it doesn’t mean that we cannot be united.
DIBs Team Leader