Without question, 2020 was a tough year. The pandemic affected our global workforce, and, like so many other organizations, we had to learn how to shift to a virtual format to protect our employees and their health.
The pandemic wasn’t the only impactful event that changed our world.
2020: Our Time to Listen
For some, the murder of George Floyd opened their eyes to the racial unrest in the US and abroad. For others, it was a reminder of their own experiences or the experiences of loved ones.
Rithum held listening sessions to create a space for our employees to process the event and be able to share their personal stories. After listening to so many of our team members, we realized we need to do more as a company — that we had a corporate social responsibility to create an equitable workplace.
It led to the formation of our employee-led DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Task Force supported by our C-suite executives, so we could begin making an impactful change at Rithum and beyond.
Goals, Commitment, Results
The DE&I Task Force enhanced the description of Rithum’s values to ensure our commitment to foster a diverse and inclusive environment. From there, it was important to establish a baseline for our DE&I journey which meant we needed to look at employee feedback.
We check the pulse of our organization twice each year with an online, anonymous employee engagement survey. We included a set of DE&I questions in our October 2020 engagement survey and have made them standard questions for our biannual survey to help us measure our progress in the future.
In 2021, our employees launched seven new employee resource groups (ERGs), each with an executive sponsor. These ERGs have played an important role in ongoing education for our employees by hosting events with guest speakers, panel discussions and powerful employee stories.
Education was one step toward our goal to professional and personal growth, but we also strived to meet our goal to improve diversity at all levels of the organization. We evaluated our recruiting process and modified our approach to recruiting by expanding our search to a wider range of colleges and universities and professional organizations.
We assessed our own vendor spend to reflect on how we could support diverse vendors. In 2020, we established a baseline and determined that 3.18% of our total spend with vendors involved diverse vendors. At the end of Q4 2021, we increased diversity spend by 52.4% to 4.85% and added five new diverse vendors over a 12-month period and ten total since efforts began.
Teaming up with M&F Bank, a historic Durham-based community bank, we are helping to promote financial sustainability for local minority-owned businesses. “Access to capital has been a long-standing barrier to growth for many minority-owned businesses, and through our partnership with M&F Bank, we can help lower those barriers. We’re proud to partner with such a venerable and mission-driven organization,” Rithum CEO David Spitz said.
Rithum supports causes and policies that affect our employees and align with our DE&I initiatives. To support these causes, our executive team believes employees shouldn’t choose between workplace responsibilities and their civic duties. Starting in November 2020, our company designated Election Day as a paid company holiday to make it easier for employees in the US to exercise their right to vote. Employees are also able to take advantage of our Give Back Day, a paid time off program that allows them to volunteer their time to causes and events dear to them.
One Team, One Future
Rithum has made progress since we started this work from unconscious bias training, creating ERGs and supporting our employees in their civic duties. But, for all the progress that has been made, there is still so much more for us to accomplish in the coming years.
As we look to 2022 and beyond, we will continue our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by living our values and building on our longtime commitment to a culture of meritocracy.
Read more about our employee numbers, ERGs and employee survey data in the report on our DE&I page.