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Update: Square Roots, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Square Roots | 07.31.20

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update Graphic

It is not enough to be non-racist. We must put in the work to become an anti-racist company.

Our mission at Square Roots is to bring local, real food to people in cities by empowering the next generation of leaders in urban farming. We’ve always put an emphasis on creating pathways for more young people to enter the industry. But in reflecting last month, it’s clear we need to relook at how we deliver on that mission, through the lens of anti-racism, to ensure that the pathways we create are absolutely accessible to, and successful for, young people of color, particularly young Black people.

In early June, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we announced the formation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team and listed out a number of steps we were taking to work towards becoming an anti-racist company. And while what we’re doing now is undoubtedly too late, our team is committed to putting in the time and effort to do the work to fully integrate anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion into our wider company culture and throughout our business operations. We understand that this will take time, and we will keep our community updated on our progress by posting below. Scroll down to read more about our methodology and approach, and about our DEI Team.

What We’re Rolling Out: Updated July 31, 2020

Recruiting

We've performed a comprehensive assessment of our current hiring practices through the lens of racial equity, and identified gaps where we could be doing more. Based on studies showing that unconscious bias prevents diverse candidates from being hired, our goal is to maintain diversity in our candidate pools at every step of the interview process. Our tactics will include respectfully collecting and better leveraging self-reported candidate demographic data and consistently applying a robust diversity sourcing strategy to include active sourcing efforts, including partnerships with job boards and professional organizations geared towards underrepresented talent. And, to make sure our own unconscious bias doesn’t get in the way, we have rolled out interview bias training for team members. There is so much more we can do here, but these are the first steps.

Business Operations

Through the lens of ensuring technology equity, we’re surveying everyone at Square Roots to make sure everyone has access to the tools they need to do their job while working not only in the farms or at other Square Roots spaces, but also remotely and at home.

Empowerment

We’re launching Employee Affinity Groups to create a space of belonging and community for all Square Roots employees, and a channel for advocating for the needs of various identity groups.

Benefits and Compensation

We announced that we’re rewiring our farmer training program to accommodate the likely reality that social distancing will be with us for the foreseeable future. Now we’re reviewing benefits and compensation for these roles to ensure these pathways are accessible and equitable.

Community Engagement

We’re rolling out a policy for volunteer paid time off (separate from existing PTO) that will be available to all Square Roots employees. The goal is to give team members the time and flexibility to make a difference in their local communities.

Education

We’re implementing learning and development programs across the organization, with training that includes leadership, DEI, and more. We will continue to make sure our entire team is involved in these efforts. Additionally, we are researching potential educators and consultants to bring in outside perspectives not represented by our leadership team, to facilitate anti-racism training, help us identify and remedy any blind spots in our culture, and inform a comprehensive 2021 plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts at Square Roots.

The list above is by no means exhaustive of the projects we’re working on now. We will continue to update it as projects move forward and begin to be implemented across the company. Keep an eye out here and on our social media for more information in the coming months.

Our Methodology and Approach

Through virtual town halls, surveys, 1:1 meetings, anonymous feedback, and team dialog, we collected input from across the company to inform areas of concern, need, interest, and ultimately, of work. Through this process, we were able to surface pain points and a ton of great ideas, ranging from benefits and compensation to community engagement. However, there are limitations to this approach, and we can’t say that these results are inclusive of all perspectives represented at our company and across the cities where we operate. Likewise, in some cases, we can begin to implement ideas or start work on initiatives immediately, but we understand that we lack adequate representation and we will need to bring in outside perspectives to fill in our knowledge gaps.

About the DEI Team at Square Roots

As a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team that was tasked with creating an anti-racism plan. Our goal is for this team to help facilitate, with the help of outside perspectives, a root and branch review of our business, our hiring and retention policies, our vendors, and more, to understand where we are falling short through the lens of racial equity. The end result is to fully integrate anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion into our existing triple bottom line efforts and throughout all our business operations. This work needs to be done thoroughly, which means it will take some time, but it will be done. We want to ensure that we are upholding our mission of empowering the next generation of leaders by creating an inclusive work environment that allows us to celebrate and grow from diverse experiences and ideas.

Our DEI Team reports progress at our weekly management meetings and at our monthly “All Hands” meetings. The team has also been holding regular virtual town halls to allow for company-wide participation and input. We’re dedicated to doing the work and will continue to uphold our commitment to making anti-racism integral to our company’s culture.

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