Personal Experience Inspires EDI Leadership and Goals for B Lab
February 25, 2020
B Lab’s Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Shares History and Vision
This article is a personal perspective from an employee at B Lab, the nonprofit behind Certified B Corporations. In this series, we invite individual B Lab employees to share their experiences, inspiration, hopes, and challenges as they work toward a more inclusive and regenerative world. This edition of B Lab Voices is from B Lab’s Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Ellonda L. Green, Ed.D.
Before I dive into what B Lab is working on around equity, diversity and inclusion, and my role in leading that work, let’s start with how I got here.
When someone says they have an interesting background, I unabashedly can give them a run for their money. I’ve been an early education teacher, an Early Learning Center regional director, a college professor, an ESL instructor, an adult basic education instructor, a faculty development and diversity director, and I have held a number of other roles throughout my career — a far cry from my earlier aspirations of becoming a pediatric surgeon. Over the past decade, I have consistently focused my professional work on human development, equity, and connecting resources to people who are underprivileged, under-represented and underserved. I’ve always been a proponent of the advancement of women and those disadvantaged and marginalized people from all walks of life. I truly feel that this is my life’s work — I literally live for this.
A few years ago, I found myself feeling stifled and needing to take my career in a different direction to find a better life fit and provide the opportunity to grow into the changemaker I sought to be. Cue B Lab: “a nonprofit organization that has a vision of an inclusive and sustainable economy that creates a shared prosperity for all.” In 2018, through LinkedIn, I learned B Lab had opened a role for its inaugural Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion — and I couldn’t hit “Apply” fast enough. I was impressed by B Lab’s EDI journey thus far and the commitment to not only elevating shortcomings but working systematically to correct them.
From the moment I walked through the doors at B Lab, I knew I was making the right decision — I felt welcomed, home, and whole.
So, what am I up to at B Lab?
As a Black woman, I’ve had some colorful (pun intended) workplace experiences. I’ve sat alone as the only Person of Color at the boardroom table. I’ve been overlooked, talked over, and ignored. I’ve sat next to male colleagues who made $20K more than I did for the same work with fewer credentials. (And the microaggressions — dear Lord, the microaggressions! I eventually wrote my dissertation on microaggressions and women leaders. YIKES!)
Unfortunately for me and many, many women — especially Women of Color — these experiences are not unique. These experiences drive me; they fuel my passion to shut down patriarchy, call out racism and discrimination, and dismantle White supremacy.
At B Lab, an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace is one where every employee — whatever their gender or gender identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, education, religion, or disability—feels valued and respected. I’m committed to creating a nondiscriminatory approach and providing equal opportunity for not only employment but advancement within all of our teams, programs, and worksites.
In the coming months, B Lab will share more details of its internal EDI journey over the last year. Below are the highlights we can share today, and I hope they inspire readers to take the first steps toward making progress on the EDI journey at the organizations where you work, lead and participate.
2019 to 2020: B Lab High-Level EDI Journey Debrief
Strategy and Governance: Management Circles
In May 2019, B Lab sunsetted its existing Executive Team and reorganized and expanded its leadership into multiple teams, called “circles.” A role was created within each circle to ensure an EDI lens is utilized in all organizational planning. Working with me, the new Director of EDI, B Lab crafted a more inclusive nomination process to fill the newly created circles. Before finalizing positions, proposed circles were reviewed with the Director of EDI for balanced representation in relation to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and tenure.
EDI Channel on the B Hive
In August 2019, B Lab introduced the new LGBTQ+ B Corps on the B Hive (the internal messaging and sharing platform made available to all B Corps) and I continue to work alongside our Community Success team to triage inquiries and provide a safe place where members can share ideas, explore feelings, provide advice, and lend emotional support to each other. Members create a strong bond because they can relate to each other’s unique experiences in a way that others may not be able to.
Wellness and Belonging
On June 1, 2019, B Lab began a partnership with two therapists for staff to schedule sessions for individual counseling and therapy. The therapists are certified for distance counseling to ensure support is available for individuals at all of B Lab’s office locations through virtual sessions. This service is at no cost to employees, and staff do not need to use or be enrolled in any insurance policy to access these sessions. Services are supported by funds allocated for wellness programming with additional funding provided by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company.
What is my vision and hope for the B Corp Community?
I loathe hypocrisy. I believe in the work within the movement. I believe in the values it stands for and the purpose of a betterment for all, and I feel it’s imperative that we continue to seek ways to “practice what we preach” at B Lab.
Leadership has to be better — always. It’s a moving target and it’s never going to be “good enough.” We have to be committed to always being willing to do the work. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. But we aren’t everybody, and the world expects more — it deserves more. We must model diversity and inclusion for the entire B Corp Community, and I take that job very seriously.
I invite you to review our EDI Framework, as it inspires my work every day:
To provide informed, authentic leadership for cultural equity, B Lab strives to:
- See diversity, inclusion, and equity as connected to our mission and critical to ensure the well-being of our staff and the communities we serve,
- Acknowledge and dismantle any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services, and continually update and report organization progress,
- Explore potential underlying, unquestioned assumptions that interfere with inclusiveness,
- Advocate for and support board-level thinking about how systemic inequities impact our organization’s work, and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission.
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