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  • Writer's pictureDr. Juhanna Rogers, PH.D

REFLECTING ON RESI’S FIRST YEAR

A colleague recently reminded me that it was just one year ago that I stepped into the role of vice president of Racial Equity and Social Impact (RESI). What a year it has been. As I think back on all that has transpired and has been accomplished in that immensely challenging and yet inspiring year, I could not be more motivated and excited to continue leading this work at CenterState CEO.


Last month, I found myself in Portland and Salem, Oregon, working with a health organization on its plans to address diversity. As I walked through downtown Portland, I passed buildings still boarded up, many storefronts still shattered, and Black Lives Matter or equity and justice messaging in windows and on vehicles. Yes, we are thousands of miles from Portland, Oregon. Our downtown was not struck nearly as hard, yet our city and region still wrestled with the events of last summer, tearing some apart, while bringing many closer together.


One thing is for sure, we are talking more than ever about issues that matter to our community in new ways. It is apparent to me and many of us in the business community that the conversation on inclusion is bigger than just matters of race. This visit reminded me that the events of last summer are still with us, and that 2020 is a moment in our collective journey that we must never forget. But more than a moment, it was a critical confluence of injustice, pain and trauma; activism and action; an awakening and an opportunity to transcend and continue an ongoing movement toward greater equity and justice.


We are proud that so many have joined us in that movement in such a short time. In the last year, RESI has served more than 4,500 people through one-on-one services. Before the year concludes, we will have reached close to 10,000 from our region and beyond. We’ve seen the companies we work with begin to think more critically and intentionally about their companies’ visions for inclusion, to design new initiatives and deploy new strategies that will advance their new goals around diversity and equity. More than 60 companies have signed Central New York’s Business Equity Pledge.


Yet, as I was reminded in my walk down the streets of Portland, the work to rebuild and engage is not behind us, it is still in plain sight.


RESI is expanding its staff to help support the work necessary to move us forward, joined by Lizette Lewis, our new RESI coordinator. As we come together to examine the reasons and rationales for the labor shortages, the lag in people returning to work, or how to support the needs of employees to balance life, family and health concerns, the goal to be more inclusive and equitable is even more critical. Our work ahead will also focus on issues such as equity in pay, gender equity, inclusive practices of ethnic cultures, and inequities faced by the LGBTQIA and other minority communities.


In September, which is Latinx Heritage Month, we are hosting a RESI panel discussion on Latinx business experience. Additional events and workshops into the new year will be offered to help you and your teams continue to learn and make progress on these topics.


We also want to hear from you on the diversity, equity and inclusion topics that you find most challenging, or those that you would like to learn more about. Likewise, share your stories of progress and growth with us at resi@centerstateceo.com. We look forward to continuing this work with you.


-Dr. J.


Dr. Juhanna Rogers is vice president of Racial Equity and Social Impact at CenterState CEO. Contact Dr. Rogers at jrogers@centerstateceo.com to learn more about racial equity and social impact initiatives, DEI training courses and consultation services available through CenterState CEO.

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