Opening up the conversation around racism and discrimination
As one of the global leaders of AlixPartners’ Black Professionals Network (BPN) employee resource group, Kyleen Walker helped develop the Forum on Race, a conversation series that raised the discourse around critical topics and provided a space for voices to be heard, following the murder of George Floyd.
How did the Forum on Race come about?
I was following the protests, which spread quickly throughout the US and then around the world, and I was getting a lot of emails from colleagues. It was clear early on that this was a situation that BPN would need to address.
BPN leaders had a meeting with Elton Ndoma-Ogar, AlixPartners’ Head of D&I, to discuss the actions the firm should take to support our Black employees. We wanted to check-in on our colleagues and provide a space for our Black employees to share their experiences with the rest of the firm.
Those internal discussions led to the creation of a series of events where our Black professionals and our allies had open and honest discussions about race and diversity, which we called the Forum on Race.
The first session was hosted about a week after the George Floyd video was released publicly. Can you describe the process of developing a complex series like this in such a short period of time?
It was a challenge, but the support we received was outstanding! When we asked someone if they’d like to participate as a speaker, they responded quickly and enthusiastically, and when we needed help putting the series together, whether it was event production, marketing support, or tech assistance, our colleagues were on top of it.
People at the firm I had never met before, from all over the globe, were emailing me to ask how they could help. That support energized us throughout the planning and production process.
What has been the impact of the Forum on Race?
The Forum on Race was historic at our firm. We never had authentic conversations on race on such a large scale before, and the feedback was great. People were grateful that they had the opportunity to participate in the sessions and were inspired to learn more about the issues that were raised.
The Forum also established a framework for how the firm and our ERGs could respond to similar challenging topics. I’m proud that we responded to this moment by creating a space for our colleagues to feel safe, supported, and respected.
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