In January of 2021, Dev Technology’s CEO, Kendall Holbrook, sent a company-wide communication voicing a commitment to personally work on efforts to help move the company and the greater community forward into a better place. A formal Dev Technology Inclusivity Commitment was posted, and out of this pledge Dev formalized a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) group to support these endeavors.
As one of the group’s inaugural DE&I trainings, Dev Technology offered an opportunity to all employees called A Long Talk About the Uncomfortable Truth. A Long Talk is an anti-racism immersion experience which was born out of, and fueled by, the energy-for-change festering in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder. As a frustrated father, A Long Talk’s founder and Chief Empowerment Officer, Kyle Williams, knew it was time to funnel this energy into real conversations through a grass roots movement. A Long Talk has a lofty mission of erasing racism and dismantling systemic oppression in America by building allies through teaching individuals how to engage and participate in difficult and truthful conversations around race within their families and communities. A Long Talk’s belief is that “it is not enough just to be NON-racist but that we all must work to be actively ANTI-racist”.
Often, as individuals we want to be a part of the solution in curing racism, but we don’t know how or where to start. A long Talk provided us with a framework in which to help guide us through difficult conversations involving opposing beliefs. At the start, we need to seek commonalities in order to foster meaningful discussions around race with the understanding that most people will participate if they feel they are being listened to and heard. And in these moments is when true change can occur.
This anti-racism activation experience is typically delivered in a three-day format where individuals meet for an hour and a half each day. Through our partnership with A Long Talk, we were offered a compressed version to give us a quick taste of the full experience. A diverse group of twenty-eight Dev Technology team members chose to participate. Everyone committed to pre-work which reflected on the history of racism in the United States and its continued impact on our society. And together as a Dev family, we broke out into groups and quickly dove into practicing the framework through role playing and deep discussion. It was truly an impactful experience to come together as a community who cares deeply about, and is committed to, effecting change in the world around us. We all walked away equipped with new perspectives, tools, and a renewed confidence in our calling to be anti-racists.
Reflections on A Long Talk from our team:
“I am so glad that I participated in the training – it really opened my eyes on this subject and helped me identify areas where I needed to learn more. I definitely look forward to more training like this and I’m very grateful that Dev provided this opportunity!” – Aimee Lee
“Finally, an opportunity to have some frank conversations about a topic no one wants to talk about! The only way that we move forward and fix race relation issues is to continue having these types of dialogues.” – Kirk Prentice
“The training was a reminder that as an individual and as a parent, I need to be vigilant and have a mindset that I can make a difference. And that I can, in turn, empower my children to be a positive force, even in the smallest ways: in interactions with friends, in encouraging conversation, in pivoting and challenging assumptions, and realizing it is in those defining moments where a shift can occur. Being consistent in doing those small, right things that can have a positive impact and effect change.” – Annemari Tarsitano
“The biggest eye-opening moment was the role-playing exercise of asking people who have different values on racism to help you better understand their belief. After the training, I felt a stronger need to educate myself, family, and friends about the unknown historical examples of racism, such as 4 million Americans enslaved at the time of the Civil War, white supremacy is what our country was founded on, $100 business license fees for black owners and $0 license fees for white owners in 1870, and Latinos and African Americans were excluded from Social Security. – Monica Keller
“A Long Talk is fantastic. An eye opening, uncomfortable but necessary, time spent with fellow Dev teammates that is life changing. The presentation is spot on, and the facilitators are so passionate about a very important subject. We all need to be part of this discussion and involved in this anti-racism effort. We have a lot of work to do!” – Rebecca Blevins
If you are interested in participating in an upcoming A Long Talk event you can sign up through their website at www.alongtalk.com and all trainings are free to the community.
Wanda Pease is Dev Technology’s Manager of Quality & Operational Excellence.