ECONOMY | A recent report from Old Dominion University has found that Virginia has finally recovered from the 2008 recession. The report cites the state’s dependence on federal government spending, like other jurisdictions in the region, as a major reason why it took so long. (WaPo, 12/15)
Virginia’s gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services, has grown for five consecutive quarters since March 2017, the ODU report found. That’s a surge of strength for an economy that had been stubbornly anemic. Once a powerhouse state, Virginia lagged the nation as a whole in economic growth for six years in a row, with some quarters tumbling into contraction.
A big reason the state took so long to recover from the recession is that government spending was slow to ramp back up. Sequestration — the trick Congress used in 2013 to impose automatic government spending cuts — has hamstrung Virginia’s economy ever since.
WRAG ANNOUNCEMENT | Yanique Redwood, president and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation and chair of WRAG’s board of directors, has announced her decision to resign from WRAG’s board. Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the Meyer Foundation and current vice chair of WRAG’s board will move immediately into the position of Chair. Read more here (WRAG, 12/17)
CSR | Katy Moore, WRAG’s managing director of corporate strategy, presents the business case for corporate community involvement in a new blog. (Daily, 12/17)
REGION | For the first time, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has nominated board leaders who are all Black. It has also approved all women for its 2019 Corporate Officers. (WTOP, 12/15)
Hey all! I’ve really enjoyed my time here at WRAG and creating the Daily WRAG for two years, but I’m writing to say Wednesday will be my last day. Thanks to everyone who’s engaged with the Daily or have left a comment or an email. Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, who served as Daily WRAG editor before, will take over writing the Daily – on a modified schedule- in the new year.
REMINDER | Daily WRAG readers, we want your opinion! In order to improve your reading experience, we ask that you complete this short survey by Wednesday, December 19 to let us know what you like and what could be better on the blog.
Here’s something to make you smile on this Monday:
Marty Wegbreit, director of litigation for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society in Richmond, has witnessed the interplay of race and eviction at work. He spent 24 years in Southwest Virginia, where there is as much poverty, in the mountain hollows and coal fields, as anywhere in the state. The only difference, however, is that it’s white poverty. Buchanan County, for instance, which is 96 percent white and has a poverty rate of 25 percent, has an eviction rate of less than 1 percent, according to Eviction Lab.
“A lot of people don’t want to talk about the racial issue, but we’re going to,” Wegbreit said. “White people simply have a deeper bench, more access to wealth than black and brown people. . . . And there’s a subconscious belief that, ‘We can let the white folks slide; they’ll be good for it. And the black folks, not, because they won’t be good for it.’ ”
PHILANTHROPY | In a new blog, Tamara Lucas Copeland, president of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, discusses what she would like to see WRAG members and the organization focus on in the future. (Daily, 11/13)
AGRICULTURE | The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is set to release a report, What Our Region Grows, by the end of the year. The report analysed the region’s agricultural economy and includes recommendations on how to strengthen it. According to the report, more than 480,000 residents from across the region are employed in this sector. (MWCOG, 9/24)
“We’re excited to share this first look at the work of COG’s experienced Regional Agricultural Work Group,” said Lindsay Smith, COG’s Regional Food Systems Value Chain Coordinator. “This report reinforces the idea that regional collaboration is key to ensuring agriculture can expand and thrive in metropolitan Washington.”
Metropolitan Washington is a growing region with a growing demand for food, yet land in farms has been steadily decreasing since World War II. Earlier this decade, COG set a regional goal to maintain 498,946 acres of land in farms to improve the food system and preserve agriculture. The most recent data puts the region just 3,600 acres above this threshold.
– On Monday, DC students will no longer be able to use their DC One Cards to ride the metro or bus for free. They will need to use special SmarTrips, but the District has not distributed enough to all schools. (WAMU, 9/27)
– There has been a national discussion on whether gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft should classify their workers as employees or independent contractors. In California, a company has made that transition. Here are the results. (Atlantic, 9/14)
But while the policy debate rages on, a real-world experiment has been testing what, exactly, would happen if companies had to switch a large swath of their workers from independent contractors to employees. As of January 1 of this year, cannabis-delivery workers are mandated by state law to be classified as employees. These rules, adopted after Californians voted to legalize marijuana in 2016, are a way for law enforcement to ensure that dispensaries take responsibility for their product, and that it is being handled by trained employees.
Since they were enacted, dispensaries around California have started the process of switching delivery drivers, and in some cases other workers as well, from independent contractors to employees. Their experience highlights, more than any hypothetical debate, how there is no one easy answer for how to best structure the gig economy.
By Katy Moore, Managing Director of Corporate Strategy at Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
In today’s super-charged socio-political environment, it’s no longer enough for a company to demonstrate its commitment to community through traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices like philanthropy, volunteerism, and environmental efforts. Corporations are being pushed internally by employees and externally by consumers to stand up and speak out on some of society’s most controversial topics. One just has to look at some of the most recent examples of corporate activism by companies like Nike, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and American, United, Frontier Airlinesto realize that we’ve entered a new era of CSR.
Historically, companies only took a stand if an issue directly related to their industry or interfered with their profit-making abilities. Now, companies are regularly speaking up on controversial issues such as gun control, immigration, and racism, as well as important internal issues such as diversity, sexual harassment, and the gender pay gap. But, how does a company decide whether or not to take a stand? Who determines what that stance will be?
To answer these questions, Larry Di Rita, from Global Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Bank of America, and his team regularly ask the questions, “where should we take a stand given our role in the economy and the community?” And, “what are the issues that our employees and customers care about?” These internal conversations have led to a number of public stances on important issues, such as the bank’s recent decision to stop lending to companies that manufacture certain military-style firearms for civilian use. In situations like this one, the bank has to ask itself a series of questions, such as “how can we help make sure front-line bankers who handle these accounts engage in the right dialogue with their clients?”
Ultimately, Di Rita, explained that when the bank is deliberating on taking a stance, it needs to question two things. First, is the decision sustainable? That is, will the company be able to continue meaningful engagement with stakeholders in the pursuit of “responsible growth?” And, second, is the decision consistent with the company’s values and purpose?
Another company taking a bold stance on a hot-button issue is PwC. Idalia Hill, director of external communications at PwC, is one of the leaders of CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest-ever collective of CEOs dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Responding to society’s complex divisions and tensions around race, diversity, and inclusion, CEO Action is the brainchild of Tim Ryan, U.S. Chairman and senior partner of PwC. Mr. Ryan originally called on what he expected to be 40-50 CEOs to sign the pledge. The coalition is now up to more than 500 companies and organizations as signatories – a prime illustration of the momentum of today’s corporate activism.
Jimmie Walton Paschall, executive vice president of Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion & Strategic Philanthropy at Wells Fargo, knows a thing or two about handling challenging situations and politically charged communications. Since 2016, when Timothy Sloan took over as Wells Fargo’s CEO following the bank’s missteps earlier that year, the bank has intentionally fostered a culture of transparency and ethical behavior that it hopes will inspire employees and resonate with customers.
So, recently, when Wells Fargo publicly stated its opposition to the Trump administration’s policies on DACA, the bank made sure to be clear with their employees and partners why the bank’s leadership felt that it was important for Wells Fargo to have an opinion. Specifically, hundreds of Wells Fargo team members are DACA recipients and the bank recognizes that many of its customers and community partners are also beneficiaries of the program.
Ms. Paschall also referenced a recent advertising campaign that was part of an intentional effort by the bank to reflect its vastly diverse customer base. In 2015, Wells Fargo ran a television ad that featured two women learning sign language on, what we learn later in the ad, is a journey towards the couple adopting a hearing impaired baby. According to CNN Money, this commercial made Wells Fargo the first American bank to showcase an LGBT relationship in a national ad campaign. In addition to highlighting diversity, the ad was supposed to impress the importance of financially planning for your family’s future and whatever life may bring your way. But a number of religious groups expressed outrage that the ad featured a same-sex couple.
When faced with the decision to pull the ad or continue it, Wells Fargo’s leadership decided that continuing to run the ad, despite conservative religious protests and the possible loss of banking relationships, aligned with the company’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Feedback and input from the bank’s employee resource groups helped the bank truly understand how its employees – at every level and in every geographic area of the country – felt about these issues and supported the bank’s decision to keep the ad.
As companies across the U.S. are deciding when and how to take a stand, or not, many are also encouraging and empowering their employees, customers, social media followers, and even their competitors to join in their activist efforts. This type of bold, corporate activism has the power to make a real difference in society. It also has the power to transform traditional quid-pro-quo relationships – such as seller/consumer and employer/employee – into life-long brand loyalties. When companies genuinely stand up for a cause they care about and authentically engage stakeholders, they make a difference and might even convert socially minded consumers into customers along the way.
How is your company stepping up and speaking out? I’d love to hear from you!
HOMELESSNESS | Over 30 protesters gathered outside DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser’s home yesterday morning to protest the demolition of a building next to the DC General shelter. Activists are concerned that the families who are still being housed at the shelter could be exposed to harmful toxins from the demolition. (WAMU, 7/30)
The protesters, who took part in a mock demolition of a cardboard-box building and threw flour in the air to simulate construction dust, said they worry of the possible impacts of this month’s planned demolition of the three-story Building 9 — including possible lead and asbestos dust — on families living at the D.C. General family homeless shelter, which is 250 feet away.
“There are about 250 youths still living there. And we know that the area itself, as well as the building specifically, is known for having lead and other neurotoxins. The demolition of it can absolutely increase the likelihood of those young children being exposed to what we know are unhealthy toxins and rodents. And so we’re simply asking her to wait until all the families are moved,” said Samantha Davis, one of the protesters.
CSR | Congratulations to WRAG members Deloitteand PwC for being included in People’s list of 50 top U.S. companies that are “caring for their communities, their employees, and the world”. (People, 7/25)
– Almost 13,000 people are living with HIV in DC, and 43% are 55 or older. Many of them lack support networks as they grew up when the diagnosis was even more stigmatized and treatment was not as effective. Due to this, and the lack of affordable housing options in the city, homelessness is common in this population. (Street Sense Media, 6/13)
Earlene Budd, a 59-year old, transgender woman who has experienced homelessness and was diagnosed with HIV 25 years ago, has had a similar experience to many of the clients who make up her case load at HIPS, a health clinic dedicated to serving sex workers and drug users in the H Street Corridor. “I know what it means to be homeless because, first and foremost, I’m somebody who slept on the streets of D.C. when I was younger and my family put me out.”
She has worked with homeless and HIV positive populations for 18 years through the D.C. Department of Health, the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness and other organizations. In the last several years, she said, the gradual decrease in federal HOPWA [Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program] funding Kharfen identified has cut down the number of housing programs that serve people with HIV.
Related: This article mentions Joseph’s House and HIPS, which are both grantees of the Washington AIDS Partnership and sites that the Partnership’s Health Corps program members are regularly placed.
– For the third year, some DC news websites will be releasing a collection of stories investigating the barriers and solutions to ending the homeless crisis in DC. Read it here. (DC Homeless Crisis, 6/28)
NONPROFITS | WRAG recently hosted the first session of its Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, with Booz Allen Hamilton, which focused on how to create authentic partnerships between funders and their grantee partners. In a new blog, Sean Herpolsheimer, WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow, discusses the key takeaways from the session. (Daily, 6/28)
Related: Make sure you register for the next session in the Nonprofit Summer Learning Series here!
CSR | Shannon Schuler, chief purpose officer at PwC and 2017 Institute for CSR faculty member, shares her thoughts on how CSR efforts much change and adapt to stay relevant. (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6/27)
EDUCATION | How the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that public sector unions can no longer compel union dues will impact teacher unions and their recent advocacy. (NYT, 6/27)
MENTAL HEALTH | Two new studies found that the murdering of Black Americans by police officers who rarely, if ever, face consequences, affects the mental health of Black Americans, even if they are not personally touched by the death. (Citylab, 6/27)
WORKFORCE | Yesterday, DC residents voted yes on Initiative 77, which eliminates the tipped wage and requires employers to pay their employees the minimum wage. The measure will now go to Congress for a 30-day review before it becomes law. (WAMU, 6/19)
“I was a server for many, many years. So having experienced both sexual harassment and the complicated nature of working in the restaurant industry, it just felt incredibly important that we do our best in terms of policy to make sure that people who are working at the less fancy, less expensive restaurants really have an opportunity to raise their standard of living,” said Sylvia Fabela, who voted for the initiative on Tuesday morning in Ward 3.
Currently, workers at restaurants and nail salons are paid $3.33 an hour and are allowed to collect tips on top of that. If those tips don’t raise their pay to the prevailing minimum wage, now $12.50, their employer has to make up the difference. Under Initiative 77, the tipped wage will be incrementally phased out through 2026, after which employers will have to pay all their employers the minimum wage directly, which by then will be more than $15 an hour.
AGING | A planned facility for LGBTQIA seniors, Mary’s House for Older Adults, has been awarded $1.19 million in funding from the District. The founder is hoping to raise $4.4 million for the project. (Washington Blade, 6/18)
CSR | Applications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2018 Corporate Citizenship Awards are due on June 29. Don’t miss this opportunity for your company to be recognized for the great work its doing in the community! (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 6/20)
ENVIRONMENT | Recycling has increased in Maryland, but many residents are still unclear about what belongs in the recycling bin. Maryland officials say this confusion is costing the state and taxpayers money. (Baltimore Sun, 6/20)
Now that DCist is back, so is the “Overheard” column. Read last week’s observations here.
HOMELESSNESS | The Landmark Mall in Alexandria, VA, long abandoned by shoppers and stores, is now the temporary home of a movie set and a homeless shelter. The new property owner has leased a portion of an old Macy’s to a homeless shelter for free. (NYT, 6/13)
Ms. Smith, the former Macy’s worker, rested on the floor of the common room under a frayed green blanket. Before coming to the shelter, Ms. Smith had been living in a car and showering in a recreation center. “I was tired,” she said.
Ms. Smith, who worked at Macy’s as a seasonal hire during the holidays 10 years ago, remembers the store fondly. On a slow day, she would try on makeup at the cosmetics counter and spray herself with samples of perfume. She said she could never afford to buy anything of her own. “All I could do was admire it.”
CSR | Katy Moore, WRAG’s Managing Director of Corporate Strategy, recently hosted a two-day workshop for more than 100 nonprofit and fundraising professionals to help them understand how and why companies give back to their communities. Read her most recent blog post “Five Things Your Corporate Funders Wish You Knew”. (Daily, 6/14)
Related: If you’d like additional insight into how grantmakers think, how they approach their work, and what they look for in strong nonprofit partners, join WRAG and our sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton for the 2018 Nonprofit Summer Learning Series. Attend in person or via live webinar. Even if you can’t make it, you might consider registering and receiving the webinar recording to watch at a later date.
ENVIRONMENT | The Anacostia Watershed Society, which issues an annual river report card to bring attention to the Anacostia River, has given the river its first passing grade in ten years. (WaPo, 6/13)
ARTS & HUMANITIES | Susan Fisher Sterling, director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, discusses gender equality in the arts and what makes a piece of art good. (WaPo, 6/12)
HOUSING | There is nowhere in the United States where a person working 40 hours a week and earning federal or state minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rent. (Citylab, 6/13)
IMMIGRATION | The administration is reviewing immigrants’ old fingerprints in an effort to rescind citizenship from individuals it believes may have falsified information on their naturalization forms. (WaPo, 6/13)
By Katy Moore Managing Director of Corporate Strategy Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Have you ever heard something so profound that it challenged your entire understanding of a topic? That happened to me recently with regard to diversity – a topic quite familiar to me after 10+ years working on corporate social responsibility (CSR).
In a spirited discussion about racial equity, Avis Ransom of Baltimore Racial Justice Action said, “Plantations were diverse. Diversity is not the answer.”
I carried that statement with me for weeks…regularly returning to it, mulling it over, trying to figure out what it truly meant for my work in the CSR space.
In the 1960s, in response to racial tensions, American companies began establishing race-based employee resource groups (ERGs) as a forum of support and professional growth for discrete, racial communities. Overtime, ERGs expanded to focus on other sub-groups: women, LGBTQ, and veterans, just to name a few. In more recent years, the conversation has evolved and expanded and is generally referred to as diversity, equity and inclusion – DEI. Inestimable numbers of companies have hosted countless DEI trainings, launched innumerable DEI initiatives, and commissioned a plethora of DEI research. And, yet, on average women still earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, black men earn a third less than white men over their lifetimes, there are only four black CEOs in the Fortune 500, and on and on.
So, as Avis said, and as I have come to understand, diversity is not the answer, or at least, it’s not the entire answer. My frame is being challenged. ERGs and DEI initiatives are important, but they are not enough to address the deep inequities that exist in our society. And those inequities are often mirrored to varying degrees in our business community.
As I have a tendency to do, I started digging deeper. What was the fuller story? I was pleased to learn there are a number of companies that are beginning to go beyond traditional DEI efforts, but one stands out for taking a position that, on its face, is counter to popular thinking.
Deloitte is making a bold attempt to reframe its DEI efforts by actively including… men. That may seem ridiculous at first, but let’s look more carefully. Men, white men to be specific, hold the majority of leadership roles in the corporate sector; they set the workplace culture, frame the corporate infrastructure, and define the measures of success. This also means that white men are in the strongest position to drive organizational change. But, based on the statistics I shared earlier, it doesn’t seem that they are currently wielding their power and influence to actively make change in the equity sphere. And, that’s exactly the reason that by intentionally including men in its DEI efforts, Deloitte could succeed where others have not in truly achieving a more equitable workplace.
Of course, there are a few *small* challenges to address such as the blatant power dynamics, privilege, unconscious bias, etc. before white men can serve as full diversity partners. But, I would argue that this is a learning curve that, while steep and ever-evolving, is definitely not unreachable.
For years, DEI work in the corporate space has predominately been the realm of women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized communities. Calling on white men as active participants and partners is a bold and powerful strategy. I look forward to tracking this initiative and others as the business community works to make real change in the equity arena.