Our Commitment to Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion
In early June, Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy wrote a memo to our front office and our fans outlining the organizations's commitment to racial justice. The note stated that we stand with those who are working to achieve racial equity, recognized that we have work to do ourselves, and spoke of our obligation to amplify the voices of those who share our values, but may not share our platform.
Since then, we have collected and communicated resources, commemorated holidays that were previously overlooked, disclosed the documented number of incidents at Fenway Park involving racial slurs, and supported the efforts of our players and coaches in the important work that they are doing in this space. Most recently, we affixed the words Black Lives Matter on the Bleacher seats in our ballpark and to the Red Sox Foundation’s billboard on Lansdowne Street that faces the Mass Pike.
These public-facing declarations are symbolic and important – we want our fans, players, and community to know where we stand as an organization. We recognize, however, that they are not substitutes for the work that goes into bringing about systemic change. That is why we felt it necessary to share the less visible efforts that have been taking place inside our organization.
Like many companies, we asked ourselves how we can appropriately engage in racial and social justice work in a meaningful and impactful way both within Fenway Park and throughout our community.
The enormity of this moment and movement for change and equality prompted us to ask ourselves how we are doing as an organization. Do we have structures in place that may be perpetuating racial inequity? How do we become a better leader and ally in this space? How do we ensure our efforts are sustainable?
After spending time debating the merits of launching various external programs, we ultimately decided the best place to focus our efforts at this time was internally, within our own organization.
The programs and partnerships may come in the future. For now, we have fully dedicated our energy to uncovering the ways in which we may have undermined racial progress within our own club.
- We have created a Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Committee comprised of 11 diverse employees from various areas of the organization charged with overseeing this work and ensuring it continues to be a top priority for our club.
- In addition to the resources and partnerships we already have in place, we partnered in June with an organization who could lend additional expertise in racial equity and restorative justice, and who work with many companies in the Boston area to help dismantle systemic racism. We recognized early on that to properly undertake this work, we would need additional support. Partnering with an external group will help us better navigate the difficult conversations and personal examination that needs to take place. We also know that guidance will be integral in developing the strongest, most impactful plan for our internal improvement.
- Prior to the start of the 2020 season, we communicated to our players that our organization fully supports their right to peacefully protest and share their views and opinions using our games and our platforms. We want our clubhouse to be a place where players are free to express themselves, ask questions, and provide support for their teammates.
- There was interest from many employees to engage in this work with us and we have organized the 100-plus volunteers into smaller focus groups. Their ideas and feedback will be collected in the coming weeks to ensure we create an inclusive internal plan and strategy for the organization to ensure racial justice. There will be opportunities for our employees to execute many of the ideas generated during these discussions.
- In addition to engaging all employees, many of our Black and employees of color felt strongly that they needed space and opportunity to gather and share their perspectives and experiences. These meetings took place in early July, and we are working to process and learn from all the feedback and ideas that will be instrumental in creating a more equitable organization. We plan to continue to convene Black employees, along with other affinity groups, in the future. We believe creating opportunities for safe spaces to discuss common issues is a critical part of learning and improvement.
Organizational change doesn’t happen overnight, and we are committed to the process and the time it will take to achieve our goal of a more inclusive and unified front office. We know there is work to be done. These initial steps are only a start. In the coming months, we anticipate new approaches to our internal work and the work we do in our community. As we do the work, we will continue to use our platforms to champion the people, causes, and organizations who are spreading truth and advocating for equality.