An Anti-Racist Company: CEO Jim Boomgard Lays Out Vision for DAI’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative

July 13, 2020

Jim Boomgard Last month, DAI announced a significant commitment to combat racism and social injustice. Yesterday, in a communication to staff, President and CEO Jim Boomgard spelled out the vision and principles—developed by the Racial and Social Justice Initiative team—that will guide the company’s anti-racism initiative, which is “not only aligned with DAI’s long-standing values,” he said, “but also extends those values in important and highly relevant ways.”

The full text of the Vision and Guiding Principles document follows.

DAI’s Racial and Social Justice Initiative

The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have refocused the world’s attention on racial inequity and injustice. These instances, hideous enough on their own, are an external, violent expression of the pervasive racism and discrimination that is seared into our societies. This racism—structural in nature—segregates communities of color from access to opportunity and upward mobility and results in pernicious conscious and unconscious biases.

DAI has been committed to advancing social justice—the belief in equality of opportunity within societies—since our inception 50 years ago. Though our work has improved the lives of many and we have learned and grown as a result, we are not yet the anti-racist organization we aspire to be. We have failed to prioritize anti-racism internally; we have missed opportunities to agitate for racial justice in all that we do. We can—and must—be better.

By infusing anti-racism throughout DAI, we will become a more transparent, impactful, and activist organization and increase our value for stakeholders, including clients, employees, and employee owners. We will attract and retain the best employees from all races and backgrounds and grow as a result of expanded perspectives. Through these efforts, DAI will become a better development partner, evolving into a strong community advocate and building dynamic partnerships to facilitate positive change.

Guiding Principles

At the heart of the Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) Initiative are six guiding principles, which we will apply both in the work we do to improve DAI internally and in our engagement with our communities to drive racial equity externally.

Reflection: We will make space for introspection and strive for humility, honesty, and bravery in assessing how well we as individuals and as a company embody anti-racist ideals. We accept that discomfort is an integral part of the learning process and will use it as a catalyst for growth, raising our awareness of and abolishing biases. We will own our shortcomings and help each other to do and be better.

Commitment: We will value and prioritize the RSJ Initiative, allocating all the financial support, human resources, and time needed to take action and drive change within ourselves and across DAI.

Openness: With curiosity and an open mind, we will test our beliefs; seek out insights, cultures, and experiences new to us; and apply creative processes and solutions to the problems of racial equity. We will draw on the best of what we know and do in our work at DAI, building upon this foundation while remaining open to novel approaches.

Respect: Organizational and individual transformation will require that we confront difficult truths. At all times, we will respect the experiences and viewpoints of DAI colleagues and initiative stakeholders, treating them—and ourselves—with dignity and kindness. Though we will assume the best intentions of all involved and invite constructive dissent, we will not tolerate racism, acting swiftly and decisively to root it out from our midst.

Accountability: Our activities will be based on good evidence, informed by the best data and analysis we can generate, and carried out with transparency and clarity. We will strive to make our impact measurable, scalable, and replicable.

Inclusivity: The RSJ Initiative will build on existing internal anti-racism and social justice efforts and will be multigenerational, multicultural, and multiracial. It will leverage the talents of our diverse staff but also bring in outside experts and partners so that we nurture a community of likeminded activists, both locally and globally.



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