As a society, we faced many obstacles. As a firm, we felt the effects. But with resiliency, we made it through to 2021, a year that we are hopeful will bring positivity, growth and strength. While the past year presented challenges we may not have known were headed our way, it gave us the opportunity to reflect on the past and focus our efforts on where we want to go in the future. We still don't know all the answers, but through discovery and engagement, we're getting there.
For Dyer Brown, one of the positive things that came out of this past year was the exciting news of the firm being recognized as an LGBT Business Enterprise by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). In a time when social justice has been given a spotlight and voices are being heard, I couldn't be more proud to announce this… but I can’t say that I always felt this way.
When we first received notice that we had made it through the certification process and were awarded the certification, I had reservations: How will our employees react to this? How will clients react to this? What if we lose clients due to this certification? All of these questions and more came to the surface and forced me and the firm into a period of discovery and engagement. We talked (and continue to talk) about diversity, equity, and inclusion and started Dyer Brown’s first DEI group with a long-term focus of proactively addressing these challenges in our firm and in the design industry as a whole. Along with this came a discussion about asking everyone in the firm to use their “pronouns” (i.e. he, him, his) in email signatures. We had a lot of discussion about this. We talked about the pros and cons and truly understand both sides of the conversation.
While we believe in this as a way to respect all people and signal to the world that our firm is an “open and affirming” we also see a potential pitfall. What if someone is struggling with their identity and aren’t ready to make a proclamation to the world? We don’t want to be in the position of forcing people to make a public statement about themselves if they are not ready to do so.
So, where do we go from here? As a firm, we have decided that the addition of pronouns to our email signatures will be a voluntary addition for our staff. This does not diminish our support for and belief in this as a way to respect all people while not forcing anyone into an uncomfortable situation. As a firm leader, I will be adding my pronouns to my email signature and I welcome our employees to do the same. While this is a small step in Dyer Brown’s diversity, equity, and inclusion journey, we hope it will be just the beginning of a much larger movement within our firm. We welcome all to join us in this discussion and look forward to the conversation.