Racial Equity and Social Justice Starts with Educating Ourselves
YWCA South Florida’s 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, sponsored by Kaufman Rossin, returns in February 2021. Will you take the challenge?
The events of the past week once again drew attention to the underlying prevalence of injustice, inequity and division in our nation. As pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, many watching on TV couldn’t help but notice how the police and government response to that attack significantly differed from the response to Black Lives Matter protests last year.
The issues and inequities that now dominate our daily news updates, conversations and thoughts may have risen to the forefront over the past year, but they have existed for centuries and will not be overcome overnight. As a nation and as a community, we have much more work to do to eradicate systemic racism and heal our nation, moving forward with a focus on unity and justice for all. And all of us have a role to play.
Business leaders in particular have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to take action on these critical issues, not only to support their employees and customers, but also to catalyze change within their communities. Leaders need to help advance racial equity, social justice and economic empowerment. But with a challenge so complex and even daunting, where do you start?
Take 21 days to build better habits
At Kaufman Rossin, our leadership team recognized the importance of starting with education. Last summer, our firm had the opportunity to partner with one of the organizations tackling the issues of racism and social inequity head-on. Kaufman Rossin CEO Blain Heckaman joined forces with YWCA South Florida CEO Kerry-Ann Royes to sponsor, launch and participate in their 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge.
More than 100 of our employees took part in the 2020 challenge, which is based on the idea that it takes 21 days to change a habit. The challenge seeks to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Participants receive daily learning topics supplemented with virtual group conversations, to help them connect with one another and identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination in our community and beyond.
Kaufman Rossin employees who participated found tremendous value in the experience. Here’s what some of them had to say:
- “Although I knew that we had progressed in racism and inequality over the years, I was shocked to see that we still have so much to improve on. The 21-Day Challenge showed me that there are still so many individuals being treated unfairly… It was definitely upsetting to see that the injustice lies within every sector in the United States, from healthcare to voting to education to many more.” – Mahwish Ahmad
- “I never understood what was meant by systemic racism in our country. Now I do.” – Adam Lang
- “I learned that many people don’t see the systemic racism that prohibits black and brown people from progressing until they attend a program like the 21-Day Challenge because their personal experiences are so different.” – Melissa Caban
If you or your organization did not participate last year, now is your chance. YWCA South Florida is relaunching the 21-Day Challenge on February 15, and Kaufman Rossin is proud to have the privilege to sponsor this initiative once again. If you’re interested, learn more about the challenge and sign up here. We promise it will be worthwhile.
Championing economic justice for all
Educating ourselves was the first step. Now we need to do more. In that spirit, Kaufman Rossin has signed on as the chair of the YWCA South Florida Economic Justice Council and lead sponsor of the YWCA South Florida Workforce Pipeline Program. These new initiatives aim to successfully place 300 underemployed women, and/or under-represented groups, into the living-wage workforce in the next two years, recession-proofing them and their families from continued systemic discrimination.
Economic justice is critical for the future of our society and community. Supporting and empowering marginalized women and families now makes a meaningful impact on their lives and helps to build a more solid foundation for the next generation.
As part of this initiative, YWCA South Florida is launching a panel discussion series that explores perception, practice, and policy surrounding the intersection of race and economics, focusing on topics of workforce, wealth building and small business entrepreneurship. We invite you to join us and YWCA South Florida in building awareness and creating positive change in our community around racial equity, social justice and economic justice.