Over the past week, I have spent a lot of time watching and listening to the protests and the expressions of free speech that are going on across the Country. I have contemplated what I wanted to say on the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others that have died before them. As we grieve as a nation, and across our state, these tragedies have certainly sparked a conversation in this country. One that is necessary and far too late to be having. The voices of the hundreds of thousands of individuals in the street are being heard loud and clear: enough is enough!
As the President of CalGovHR, I have been given a platform in the public sector and nonprofit HR community; one where my actions or words can affect change, and I should use this platform, and my voice, to spread awareness and let others know I stand with them. We can affect change through our actions today and create a better tomorrow where social injustice and systemic racism is put to an end.
I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to say and have wondered whether my words make any difference at all. Should I speak from the heart, or should I remain silent? Will I say the wrong thing, or will I offend someone? But I have concluded that, by remaining silent, I would be complacent in these injustices and somehow condoning this behavior, and that’s not okay. I will not be silent, as that is not the courageous spirit and leadership that our members have come to expect and trust in CalGovHR.
While I cannot begin to understand the gravity of fear that members of the black community face daily, I can say they are real and have gone unaddressed for far too long. We as a Country have a lot of work to do to ensure that Black Lives Matter, and I stand in solidarity with the black community. With that said, I can say: I hear you, I stand with you, I will fight for you, and I will help educate others. I hope that my actions will help to affect change in the world, no matter how small.
At CalGovHR, we stand in solidarity against injustice, racism, discrimination, and violence of any kind. Since our founding in 1988, we as an organization have been working hard to educate our HR community on the real impacts of racial biases and inequity that minorities face every day in our workplaces.
As an organization, we have been influencing change in a real and practical way by talking about unconscious biases in hiring and discrimination in the workplace. In addition, we have been teaching bystander training to help empower others to speak up and lend a helping hand when they see someone being treated wrongly. These are just some of the ways we as an organization have been doing to educate others, and to flip the conversation. But we can still do much more. There is still a lot of work to do, and we can do it together.
We are all bystanders at this moment in time, whether in our workplaces, communities, or even in our group of friends. We each have a choice to speak up and be heard or remain silent and complacent. We can each affect change just by speaking up and saying that’s not okay. All too often we watch from the sidelines afraid of getting involved. Use your voice. Stand up and help. Get involved!
I strongly believe that we, as an HR community, are in a unique position to affect change not only within our organizations, but in the communities in which we serve. Use your voice, get involved, and let’s make a change for the better. I am here to listen and learn from you, our members, and I welcome a personal dialogue with each and every one of you on how CalGoHR can continue our mission in making the future of work (and our world) a better place for everyone.
As we reflect on our recent track record as an organization, we have effected change through our leadership both as a Board and a collective voice in the following ways:
Since 2017, CalGovHR has offered the HR Emerging Leaders Retreats to expose emerging HR professionals to the role of a CHRO at no cost, and has graduated over 60 public sector HR professionals who are ready to take the top seat in HR. Our program is among the most diverse leadership development programs for public sector and nonprofit HR professionals in the nation.
At our 2019 Annual Conference, we featured two keynote sessions on the topics of “Overcoming Unconscious Bias at Work – A New Frontier for Harassment Prevention Training” and “The Real Meaning of Diversity and Inclusion, and Why It's Not What You Read in the Media Last Week – Ways to Influence Meaningful Changes to Your Organization”, featuring the City of Carson’s CHRO, Faye Moseley, reflecting on her own decades of experience in driving change in diversity and inclusion across multiple organizations.
In 2019, we became the first public sector HR organization in California to offer Bystander Intervention Training as part of our Harassment Prevention Training curriculum, and developed our own “Train-the-Trainer” series with locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, North Bay, Central Valley, Inland Empire, Los Angeles and San Diego, and have since graduated nearly 50 HR professionals who are ready to drive change in their own agencies and organizations.
At our 2020 Annual Conference this March, we dedicated a full day of training to Diversity and Inclusion, and partnered with HR practitioners from the City and County of San Francisco to discuss their transformation to eliminate bias in the hiring process and to recruit from a diverse candidate pool. In addition, we featured a keynote presentation by Shola Richards, a best-selling author and nationally renowned thought leader on the topic of “Go Together: Creating an Inclusive Workplace and a Culture of Courage.”
For our 2019 and 2020 Conference charity partners, we have raised nearly $5,000 in proceeds towards FLAIR, Inc., a nonprofit organization which serves as a resource to empower, mentor, promote and provide educational and professional development programs and scholarships across the country to diverse, economically disadvantaged minority students, and CASA, a nonprofit organization that ensures that children and youth in the foster care system, many of whom are from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, have both a voice and the services they need for a stable future.
But rest assured - we’re not resting on our laurels, there’s still much work to do, and we can do it, together. We will be planning a special Virtual Townhall meeting dedicated to this important conversation on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 10:00 AM, so please register here to save the date and watch for a separate announcement with additional information.
On behalf of the Board of Officers, thank you for the privilege of serving you.
Gene Boucher, SHRM-SCP