Today we are proud to honor the American holiday, Juneteenth, by launching our newest employee resource group, Hues of Dude.
Hues of Dude is the first employee resource group at Dude Solutions focused on development and inclusion for people of color. The group unites under a vision to thrive in a culture that fosters diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for all people of color.
Juneteenth is a celebration of African American culture born out of adversity. Honoring the kick-off of Hues of Dude on a holiday that celebrates freedom from the emotional, physical and psychological trauma of slavery has been a way to reflect on the holiday's origin and significance.
The celebration of Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day. On June 19, 1865, remaining slaves in Texas were freed under an executive order, two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This event marked the beginning of what we now know as the Juneteenth holiday.
Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 46 out of 50 states in America. Although the holiday is not yet recognized as a federal holiday, recent activism, petitions and corporations have joined forces to bring more awareness to the significance of the holiday.
Remembering the sacrifices made by African American ancestors so that future generations may have pride in who they are and know where they came from aligns with Hues of Dude's vision to promote an organizational culture where people of color can reach the crest of their achievements and inspire future generations.
The idea for an employee resource group focused on the development and inclusion of people of color started during the company's annual sales kick-off conference. A unique situation occurred at lunch where a group of colleagues – all people of color – sat together at one table. In the moment, no one at the table realized that this was the only table with all people of color. Not long after, CEO Ed Roshitsh greeted everyone and took a seat at the table.
There, a budding conversation began on how to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for all people of color at Dude Solutions. And that's how the idea for Hues of Dude was born.
On February 25, 2020, the co-founders held their first meeting and established the name, Hues of Dude. Dude Nation is grateful for the eight Dudes that came together to lay the foundation for the organization. Eric Anazia, Gary Blount*, Tunisha Crews, Ashlynd Johnson, Darrell Johnson*, Dom Jones*, Rosa Oyeneye and Elijah Robertson* are the eight co-founders of Hues of Dude. Darrell Johnson was pivotal in leading the organization in these efforts.
To establish a replicable governance structure, Hues of Dude co-founders decided to institute an executive board. On June 3, 2020, the following Dudes accepted the charge to lead and grow the employee resource group.
Hues of Dude's First Executive Board
The Hues of Dude co-founders and executive board has significantly helped pave the way for the employee resource group by solidifying executive support and ensuring that the mission, vision and values of Hues of Dude aligned with our organizational culture and diversity and inclusion strategy.
*These founders are no longer with the company, yet they significantly contributed to starting Hues of Dude and therefore will always be honored as founders.
The Hues of Dude values crest represents more than one definition of the word "crest"
Additionally the acronym, CREST stands for the pillars of community, representation, education, service and transparency:
Community - Provide a safe space and promote an organizational culture that will support and empower people of color within our company and in the greater global and national communities.
Representation – Advocate for equal representation for people of color in key leadership positions, and throughout all levels of our company, on both a global and national stage.
Education - Support, create and advance professional development opportunities for all people of color at Dude Solutions. We hope to spotlight leaders in diversity and provide a brave space to share best practices.
Service – Provide a foundation of support for underrepresented communities by consistently serving and building with people of color at Dude Solutions and around the world.
Transparency - Promote an environment to share current knowledge on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging to enlighten perspectives and reshape the norm for people of color at Dude Solutions and around the world.
On June 2, 2020, #BlackOutTuesday, Dude Solutions took a public stance against the systemic oppression of people of color in our country. Just a few days later, on June 5, Hues of Dude hosted their first company-wide event: "A Nation in Pain," featuring mental health expert and board-certified Psychiatrist Dr. Ifeanyi Olele.
During this presentation, Dr. Olele examined the mental health and emotional challenges associated with racial trauma resulting from the compounded violence and injustice against the Black/African American community. He also moderated a discussion by opening up the floor so employees could share personal experiences dealing with racial inequity and microaggression.
Several bold Dude employees volunteered to share their experiences. Hearing fellow Dude's experiences was one of the most powerful parts of the event.
The event was well-received by all that attended, and we plan to continue this dialogue through an ongoing series focused on exploring various facets of race relations at both Dude Solutions and in the greater community.
Hues of Dude has become a valuable resource for the company to continue the work necessary to enact long-lasting and positive change.
Today, we are hosting the first general body meeting in honor of Juneteenth and launching a monthly series of lunch & learns for frequent, company-wide crucial conversations.
We are proud to represent an employee resource group at a company that understands the value and importance of people of color. Because of this, we are well-positioned to not only thrive, but also help facilitate systemic change.
With unwavering support from our CEO, Ed, as he took a seat at our lunch table to help inspire the idea for Hues of Dude, and our fellow Dude Nation, who are members, allies or sponsors for our employee resource group, today marks the beginning of a new, more inclusive Dude Solutions in the making.