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Diversity & Inclusion How-To: TBI’s Resonate Committee

The committee encourages TBI’s nearly 300 employees to "Speak Strong. Listen Loud.”

Buffy Naylor

August 25, 2021

5 Min Read
Diversity of thought
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TBI’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee (Resonate) was still being developed when the events of June 2020 made it a priority.

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TBI’s Bryan Reynolds

“The events of that summer definitely were a catalyst,” said Bryan Reynolds, TBI’s director of sales operations.

“We wanted to be able to give everybody involved with the company a safe space to come and talk about everything that was happening in the world.”

“People need a place where they can ask questions and share experiences. Where they can talk about how the headlines make them feel, their fears — just generally learn from one another,” said Reynolds.

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TBI’s Ashley Kain

Reynolds and Ashley Kain, TBI’s office manager and executive assistant, co-founded and currently co-chair the committee.

Open Share

The committee, launched in June 2020, was well-received by employees. The group meets once a month. Each meeting starts with an “open share,” which allows participants to share anything they want with the group.

“It could be their struggles, their successes or their concerns,” Reynolds said. “That gives us a starting point for the kind of conversations that people generally don’t want to have.”

“We have a comfortable, safe space to ask the uncomfortable questions. We all learn from that. And that’s what stimulates most of the conversation.”

“Ashley and I will also have some topics of discussion. For example, in our last meeting we talked about how to be a good ally in the workplace and things we can do to be better allies.”

Bryan Reynolds is a charter member of the Channel Futures DE&I 101. The list, which debuted earlier this month, honors 101 individuals from multicultural backgrounds who are working to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the ICT channel.

“We also encourage our members to give back to the community. For example, we recently teamed up with Meals on Wheels for Chicago. We registered for their virtual 5K to help raise funds and awareness. We’re going to do a lot more like that in the coming months.”

“We also maintain an internal SharePoint page where we upload the articles that we talk about in our meetings. There’s a diversity days calendar that we go through every month to highlight specific days around diversity so we can celebrate those.”

“In addition, we have a Yammer page where people can keep conversations going outside of the meetings. They can post any relevant articles, news headlines, TED Talks — things like that.”

Finding an Identity

Once the group was up and running, Reynolds and Kain decided it needed to be more than just the “Diversity & Inclusion Committee.” It needed an identity.

“I was thinking of what we actually do in the group,” said Reynolds. “We give people an opportunity to speak. We give them a voice, a platform to share their experiences. The purpose of this group is to give people an opportunity to resonate verbally, spiritually amd emotionally, so that people can learn from one another. The name ‘Resonate’ fit perfectly.”

A Safe Space

Kain admits that it took a while for employees to feel comfortable opening up on uncomfortable topics. “In the beginning, everyone was keen on being a part of the group, but it took a while for them to realize it really was a safe space. A couple of people volunteered at the beginning to open share. Then we had a couple of volunteer speakers in the meetings. And that’s when people started to feel comfortable opening up.”

“Since then, it’s been amazing to how something that Bryan and I built from the ground up has become a place where employees get to share experiences, life stories, concerns and questions with no judgment, no attacking.”

No Magic Formula

Reynolds and Kain stress that there’s no magic formula for what they did. “We just recognized that there was a need,” Kain said. “So we set about meeting it.”

“We didn’t really know where to start. It was just put together step by step. We started with foundational items like the mission statement and went from there.”

The duo enlisted the aid of a few committee members to develop things like meeting content and community outreach.

“I’m not sure anyone really knows where or how to start,” said Kain. “My biggest piece of advice would be…

…to just dive in and be ready to learn.”

“It’s a continuous learning process. As long as you’re dedicated and you have an open mind, you can do it.”

Reynolds is a firm believer in getting an outside perspective. He sought advice from a business associate who is involved with the employee resource group at the bank where he works.

“I would advise to reach out to people who have been involved,” he said. “Get feedback and really understand what your specific goals should be within your company. What do you really want to get out of your group? And get buy-in from people that want to be involved, to determine what the direction should be.”

Key Takeaways

And the key takeaways from their experiences? For one thing, quit hesitating — get that diversity and inclusion program started as soon as possible. ”We have seen some great results in terms of morale throughout the company,” said Kain. “I just wish we had started sooner.”

“I would say that two things are very important for a successful program,” said Reynolds. “One is that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The other is really, really knowing what a safe space is and how to make it work.”

 

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Buffy Naylor or connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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