Feb 23, 2021 |
Today, many organizations are contending with how to authentically show up for racial justice with their customers, community, and colleagues. Our nation has grappled with racial injustices from its inception but a number of events in 2020 brought these injustices to the forefront—from the horrific killings of unarmed Black men, like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, to the disproportionate way COVID-19 ravished Black communities.
During the turmoil of 2020, four women, Lynn Johnson, Stefania Pomponi, Edita Rodriguez, and Ashley Keeler, worked together at a mostly white-owned and white-led company. Their work was meaningful, and they worked alongside amazing colleagues. However, they continually found themselves calling out systems of white supremacy and oppression they noticed within their company, within their client's companies, and within their community.
That journey of speaking-out and putting social justice and racial justice at the center of those spaces led them to realize that their most significant contribution at this moment was to take their unique expertise, wisdom, and passion for advocating beyond one company. The founders decided to be part of a larger solution and support a community of companies who understand that "showing up authentically and impactfully for racial justice is good for business."
Hella Social Impact is a social impact consultancy built on the intersection of the founders’ decades of marketing communications experience, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting expertise, and in-depth knowledge from founding certified B Corporations in the past. It was created to "Notice, Name, and Dismantle™ systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression that marginalize, exclude, exploit, and harm Black and Non-Black People of Color (NBPOC)."
Co-founder Lynn Johnson partnered with Beneficial State Bank years ago when she founded her previous organizations, the Oakland Freedom Theater and Spotlight Girls. The Hella Social Impact team decided to continue the partnership with Beneficial State for this new venture. "I've worked with Beneficial State for years and have always been impressed by their triple bottom line and steadfast commitment to balancing social justice and environmental sustainability," Johnson said.
When working with companies, Hella Social Impact’s first step is to help identify where the company currently stands. This starts with the Hella Racial Justice Spectrum Assessment, which takes about 45 minutes to complete, providing a snapshot of where an organization is now and how that aligns with where they want to go. This tool is the basis for empowering companies to set goals for moving forward down the social and racial justice spectrum, and a pathway for co-designing marketing communication strategies that amplify their journey.
"If you are doing the real work of noticing, naming, and dismantling, we can find a way to talk about that publicly in authentic ways," shared co-founder Stefania Pomponi.
Hella Social Impact brings this to life by working with companies that may not have internal DEI support, filling this gap through a long-term partnership. Alternatively, they can support existing DEI practitioners in larger companies who need help taking their work to the next level.
Julie Lythcott-Haims is a New York Times bestselling author, launching her new book, "Your Turn: How to Be an Adult," in April 2021— a sequel to her best-selling book, "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success." Lythcott-Haims is working with Hella Social Impact to bring her whole-self to this book launch. As a Black queer woman, she wants inclusion and equity to permeate all aspects, from marketing to virtual events. Hella Social Impact is ensuring it is marketed through a social and racial justice lens.
Another client, Akimbo, is an online community teaching seminars to freelancers and bootstrappers, founded by marketing pioneer Seth Godin. In the process of becoming a certified B Corporation, Akimbo recognized that while they have done excellent work training thousands of people, they haven't gone far enough to show up for racial justice. Over the next year, Hella Social Impact will partner with Akimbo and provide support as "their virtual Social Impact Officer," helping them set, attain, and communicate their social and racial justice goals along the way.
We are in a moment where more people realize that systemic racism can exist in the most well-meaning companies, whether intentional or unconscious. We can “call in” this moment's reckoning by being honest and authentic, naming our shortcomings, holding ourselves and other people accountable, and sharing our journey along the way.
If you are part of an organization interested in working with Hella Social Impact, get started here. If you hope to learn more about racial justice and anti-racism, check out Julie Lythcott-Haims' resources here and B Corporation's resources here. As individuals, you can also place your deposits at banks actively working to bring about social and racial justice, and you can learn more from Mighty Deposits, Green America, and Rainforest Action Network.