Activism is more of a practice than a protest. It’s people coming together to create social change.

February 21, 2023

4 Min Read
Positive change

By Raul Medina


Raul Medina

In January, Americans celebrated the birthday of civil rights activist Martin Luther King (MLK), Jr. MLK Day, the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, is about embracing the spirit of activism around matters of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Defining Activism

For many people, “activism” conjures up images of throngs of protesters marching on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. But activism is more of a practice than a protest. It’s people coming together to create social change.

Activism is about speaking up and sharing ideas and viewpoints with others to bring about positive changes in how we work, how we relate to one another and how we live.

As MLK once said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Encouraging Activism

Granite teammates are anything but silent. We support social change at our company and in our community year-round through volunteering, education, fundraising and other activities that promote DEI. Granite’s leadership stands behind our efforts, enabling us to “walk the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.”

If you’re interested in inspiring DEI activism at your organization, consider two strategies that have worked well for us – a book club and fundraising for local initiatives.

Exploring DEI Issues Through a Book Club

One grassroots initiative that has been popular and effective in generating dialogue around DEI is the Granite DEI Book Club. The book club has been meeting quarterly for the past two years to read and discuss books about diversity and activism. Our latest selection was, “We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love and Resistance,” by Linda Sarsour, co-organizer of the Women’s March.

Our book selection provides a framework for the club’s discussion, but the open secret is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book. The point is to create a culture of inclusivity and energetic discussion. All opinions are welcome to be shared in this safe space.

We’ve also taken the book club to the next level, welcoming the authors to speak to our teammates about their struggles and bring their stories to life. For example:

  • We read, “My Life on the Line: How the NFL Damn Near Killed Me and Ended Up Saving My Life,” by former football player Ryan O’Callaghan, and heard directly from him about his traumatic experience coming out as a gay man in the NFL.

  • We also read, “Once I Was You,” by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, and heard first-hand her struggle as the first Latin American in many newsrooms and how she has served as a long-time immigration activist.

While forming a book club might feel like a small effort, it can make a difference. It is making a difference at Granite by fostering stronger conversations from differing points of view and facilitating a culture of understanding and collaboration. We consider that a success because if we don’t talk about issues, nothing changes.

Expanding DEI Giving Programs

Another way Granite teammates embrace activism is through charitable giving. Granite has always been a very philanthropic company and recently was named No. 1 in charitable giving among businesses in its home state of Massachusetts, the company’s second time earning the No. 1 spot in its thirteenth consecutive year at the top of the list.

However, as a national organization with 12 offices across the country, Granite’s focus extends far beyond the community surrounding its Massachusetts-based headquarters. To embrace philanthropy and activism companywide, our efforts need to match our footprint. For example, Granite raised $3,000 from teammate donations for The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. The idea for the fundraiser originated in our Atlanta office and included participation from across the company.

What Can You Do To Help Your Company Embrace the Spirit of Activism?

  • Start a DEI Book Club: You can start a book club with little investment and as few as two people. All you need is a book and a safe space. The goal is to ignite discussion about DEI.

  • Involve Leadership: Getting leaders involved at work or in the community adds weight (and resources) to your efforts.

  • Match Your Activism to Your Business Footprint: Encourage your company to be active and charitable in the geographies where it does business to make maximum impact.

  • Volunteer in Areas Encouraging Diversity: Get active in your community, particularly in promoting DEI. And encourage your company to sanction volunteer hours as Granite does.


Raul Medina is a national relationship manager at Granite Telecommunications. He also serves as chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for the company’s LGBTQA+ employees and co-chair of the Granite Corporate Advancement Networking Diversity Inclusion and Development (CANDID) organization. The goal of both groups is for all Granite teammates to feel welcome and enjoy their work environment. For more information, visit Granite at

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