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Telarus, Avant Tackle Corporate Responsibility During Racial Inequality Crisis

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Inequality

The CEOs of Telarus and Avant Communications on Monday emphasized the importance of corporate responsibility during the ongoing racial injustice and inequality crisis.

The Xposure Inclusion & Diversity Council discussion included Telarus CEO Adam Edwards and Avant Communications CEO Ian Kieninger. The theme was corporate responsibility during this crisis.

Telarus' Brandon Knight

Telarus’ Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight is Xposure IDC’s executive director. He also is Telarus’ vice president of business development for contact center. Knight said the group chose Edwards and Kieninger for this discussion on corporate responsibility because they’re doing more than just “lip service” to address this issue.

Kieninger said we’ve seen a great awakening, but this systemic issue hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Also, we’ve been treating the symptoms — not the “disease,” he said.

“It’s not going to heal unless we get rid of it,” he said. “Recent events have shown how deep and impactful it is. It’s time to listen. There are people who don’t see it, and it could be they want to be blind to it or they’re not around it, but … they don’t have an excuse not to get engaged and listen. It’s enabled us to have the dialogue now.”

Companies Need to Take Action

Edwards said it was important for his company to take action. Telarus‘ leadership team let all of the company’s employees know that “we hurt with you,” he said. The company also has formed a committee to address inclusion issues.

Telarus' Adam Edwards

Telarus’ Adam Edwards

“Our culture’s great, but there are some things to be addressed,” he said. “Come with us; we’re all in this.”

Avant did several things within the first two weeks of protests, Kieninger said. For one, it offered to pay for employees who live in cities where riots are taking place to relocate, he said.

The company then published LinkedIn posts addressing racial inequality and has made Juneteenth an official Avant holiday, he said. It will be a day to focus on the issues and get out into the community, he said.

“We’re trying to find ways to make sure this conversation doesn’t stop,” Kieninger said. “We’re going to do more together than we ever did by ourselves.”

Labels like “white privilege” and “defund the police” are polarizing and tend to prevent meaningful conversations about positive change, Edwards said. It’s more effective to share and learn from others’ experiences.

Avant's Ian Kieninger

Avant’s Ian Kieninger

Kieninger agreed, adding that getting away from labels, and instead telling stories, can lead to learning and better understanding.

Edwards said he hopes the conversations keep going.

“Those who have a story to tell, you have to tell that story,” he said. “If you don’t, you don’t give people an opportunity [to understand] other points of view, other lives being lived.”

Both Edwards and Kieninger said they actively ensure that their work environments don’t include anything or anyone who makes others feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

Knight said it’s concerning that some companies haven’t done anything or responded in any way to this crisis. It’s no longer enough to not be the problem, to not be racist, he said.

“We have to be more proactive, anti-racist,” he said.

“We’ve emphasized education,” Edwards said. “It’s just educating yourself. Create that space to create that conversation.”

Kieninger said Xposure IDC has created a “safe place” to discuss the issue and plan for action, and he’s receptive to all ideas and feedback.

Knight said there will be conversations with other leaders in the channel when they present themselves as leaders.

The Xposure Inclusion & Diversity Council refers to itself as a “beacon in the tech services industry, where individuals from all different backgrounds can collaborate.”


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