Employees, volunteers reignite BNC’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
From the beginning, Brand New Congress has been animated by the idea that all people deserve a voice in the decisions affecting their lives and a place at the table in America’s democratic institutions. Since its founding in 2016, this clear moral stance has attracted a diverse, passionate group of volunteers, political candidates and employees to BNC’s ranks. These people are the driving force behind BNC’s big wins in its mission to elect regular working people to bring these values to Congress.
So when a group of these dedicated BNC employees and volunteers came together last Fall to discuss barriers to full participation and inclusion within our organization, the volunteer board of directors and organization’s executive leadership team listened.
The team members formed a diversity, equity and inclusion group in 2020. Over the course of several months they came to agreement on several areas where BNC had to make the move from scrappy, loosely organized activist group to a more organized structure, a structure built intentionally to reduce barriers and promote equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels of our leadership team, volunteer corps and candidate slate.
Along the way, members of this group raised painful experiences of ways in which our organization had not lived up to our values. Thanks to this honest dialogue and the team’s commitment to improve, leaders and team members agreed on action to fix the most urgent issues first and aligned on a plan to transform BNC in the years to come.
Here’s where we are so far:
- Taking comprehensive action: In several instances, people came forward with credible examples of unacceptable behavior. The board investigated these claims and worked with the leadership team and facilitator to identify issues and resolve concerns, including providing training, employee consultation and taking disciplinary action where appropriate.
- Enlisting expert help: We’re working with external experts to understand BNC’s current shortfalls in our journey towards a more equitable, diverse and inclusive organization. The DEI group and leaders agreed unanimously to hire an external consultant to conduct an initial assessment and develop an action plan (read more about that here), and a dedicated external consultant to help us implement the action plan in a meaningful way.
- Formalizing our HR processes: Our hiring, promotion and training processes must reflect our values, actively reduce barriers and promote equity. We’re working with HR professionals to make this happen.
- Redoubling our DEI efforts: Employees and volunteers led the way in surfacing these concerns. To ensure that we have open, direct dialogue going forward, the organization will continue to engage and solicit feedback on policies and procedures to create an inclusive space for employees, volunteers and candidates.
- Planning for the future: We are currently in the process of applying the lessons learned from the past six months to our ongoing work improving internal procedures to better live our values. Our search for an executive director centers this work, and the new ED will be responsible for working with our team, external consultants and board to realize this vision.
In 2016, BNC set out to change the way America does politics. Along the way we have grown from a small, scrappy start-up to a rapidly growing, mission-driven team. Now is our time to look inward and make the changes within BNC that our candidates and volunteers are demanding from the power structures of America.
Thank you to the passionate, outspoken volunteers and employees for speaking up on where BNC must do better, and for diving into the hard daily work required to make it happen. We’re confident that this energy will help BNC become a stronger organization and fuel BNC’s mission to make the United States a better country.
We are excited to share our progress and learning on the journey ahead.