To all Human Solutions Staff:
I write this Monday afternoon to share a few steps Human Solutions is taking to more deeply support our staff of color, especially our Black staff, at this moment of uprising and anguish as our nation confronts our history and current state of racial injustice. All of these suggestions came in some form from input from our Anti-Oppression and Diversity Committee members and from other black and brown staff about how we can better support black and brown members of the Human Solution team – thanks to all who took the time to respond to my request to share your thinking. What follows are a list of changes we are making immediately to better align our organization with anti-racism and to provide staff who may need time and space with the means to take it:
- Juneteenth: This Friday, June 19th, we will celebrate and commemorate Juneteenth – a special day in our history that acknowledges and celebrates the legal ending of slavery in America in 1865. Human Solutions will add this day to our Holiday calendar for 2020 and will close our organization and treat it as a paid holiday pursuant to our Personnel Policies. As with any other Holiday, staff are free to utilize the day as they wish. I do want to broadly encourage staff to seek more meaning and understanding of this day and to join local Juneteenth events, including this one, which will include local music and speakers livestreamed from a local venue. We will be seeking board approval to add this holiday to our policies for subsequent years. Given that Friday is also a timesheet day, we ask that you complete your timesheets by the end of Thursday. Sorry for the short notice on this new Holiday and Happy Juneteenth!
- We will be adding 3 days – 24 hours (pro-rated for part time staff) – of limited, special bereavement leave for impacted staff to use upon demand to process their grief and emotions, participate in activities that advance the cause of making black lives matter, lend their time to black-led movement organizations or to otherwise create needed space and time right now given the moment we are in. Human Resources will be sharing updated procedures for requesting and making use of this added time off very shortly.
- We have asked all managers to check in directly and often with their BIPOC staff and to encourage offers of time and space and to remind folks of the availability of our Employee Assistance Program.
- Human Solutions will pay bail – up to $5,000 – for any staff arrested while participating in activities related to advancing the cause of Black Lives Matter. This is intended to support staff’s participation in local or national actions intended to seek racial justice. HR will also be providing information on how to access this new employee benefit.
We do not believe that the above-outlined steps begin to address all of the pain and inequity experienced by our staff of color. My hope is that they do signal that we are listening, and that the voices of our BIPOC staff will increasingly shape the ways in which our organization can ensure a more equitable, supportive Human Solutions for all staff. Soon, we will be announcing some additional ways in which we will be coming together in the next few months to continue our work to advance racial equity.
As always, please feel free to share with me your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams as we continue to grow Human Solutions to become the truly anti-racist organization we all envision.
Andy Miller, Executive Director