(l to r) Iron Mountain employees: Charmaine Lopes, Customer Success Manager and Communications Lead of the Black Colleagues@IM employee resource group (ERG), and Timothy Butler, Head of Global CX and Co-Chair of Black Colleagues @IM ERG , speak about their experiences, their perspectives on CSR and where the biggest opportunities lie for further progress
By Charmaine Lopes and Timothy Butler
Social responsibility in a corporate setting is nothing new. For decades, companies have prided themselves on their ability to give back to underserved communities or non-profit organizations. Although diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) relative to representation of BIPOC communities hasn’t always been at the forefront, the tide is turning.
As members of Iron Mountain’s Black Colleagues@IM employee resource group (ERG), we work to improve the experience of the black employees at Iron Mountain. With this front-line view into everyday work situations, we are better able to enhance social and economic justice in the corporate space.
Everything starts with companies making sure they’re taking practical steps toward being socially responsible. Such steps rely on investments in affected communities — particularly African-American ones — and taking actions like partnering with outside organizations and nonprofits to better understand where DEI inequities and gaps exist.
Company-wide support extends to representation in leadership positions as well as marketing efforts to align corporate values with broader social needs. With the pandemic disproportionately affecting communities of color, often causing more stress and creating more demands, support of BIPOC workers is extremely critical.
Additionally, Black fatigue is real — and this year brought that reality even further into the light. We’re seeing people lynched on TV and we’re generally expected to just move forward as if nothing happened and this is the new normal. It’s often a challenge just to get through the day and focus on what’s ahead. Iron Mountain has been highly supportive with regards to resources and mental health, often encouraging employees to take time off when they need to — something more important now, because with remote work, many people aren’t doing that.
What we have found to be effective in supporting not just Black colleagues but all marginalized groups are allyship programs and ERGs. They’re also useful in getting the message out, especially around training and fostering allyship internally. All groups can support social and economic justice while simultaneously building insight into the perspective and climate of an organization.
It’s important to understand that equity in DEI doesn’t mean taking things away from anyone else. Numerous studies have shown that the more diverse a group is, the more innovative and effective an organization becomes. Boston Consulting Group, for example, found companies with above-average diversity had a higher revenue with relation to innovation (45% of total) than those with below average diversity (26%). Plainly speaking, the more diverse your workforce is with a focus on DEI initiatives, the more profitable your company will be.
Watching Iron Mountain go through its own DEI transformation, Black employees are optimistic about the change that is happening (according to our own recent survey of members of our Black Colleagues @IM ERG). It’s moving at a good clip, largely because our CEO has been direct in setting expectations and not mincing words.
Companies should not be afraid to openly acknowledge where they are in their DEI programs. Some organizations have provided real resources to help mature their DEI, while others don’t have much of a program at all. It’s important to always be authentic and transparent about that.
Overall, this is a marathon, not a sprint, especially for large corporations. As much as we want policies to be implemented ASAP, it’s going to take time. These challenges — like racial discrimination and wage gaps — have been around since before the civil rights era. With patience and work, together, we can do what is necessary to bring change for the better.