1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. African American/Black & Allies ERG Co-Leaders Share Their Vision for Change During Black History Month
February 02, 2022 // Franchising.com // Employee Resource Groups have become vibrant internal communities that help to foster diverse and inclusive company cultures. At 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., there are currently four such groups, including our African American/Black & Allies (AABA) ERG, led by Latisha Lawshea and Richard Henry Lee Hill.
As our country marks Black History Month, we caught up with Latisha and Richard to talk about the positive impact ERGs can have on companies, how co-workers can best be allies, and how they personally celebrate Black History Month.
Latisha, who has been with the company since June of 2021 and currently serves as Manager of Human Resources for Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets in our Obetz, OH, office, is excited about her ERG role, both personally and professionally. “My passion is people,” she says, explaining one of the reasons why she was inspired to co-lead the group.
She believes in the positive impact her efforts can have on the company and its employees. “ERGs are important because they offer team members a feeling of belonging and are part of fulfilling the company’s mission of inclusion,” she says. “We want to bring to the table our experience to help foster a sense of inclusion for African Americans throughout the organization.”
Based out of the company’s Hebron, OH, location, Richard has spent the last four years with our Harry & David brand, most recently as a Sales Account Executive for our Business Gifts Services team. He sees the potential for how ERGs can help influence the landscape of a company. “An informed and empowered employee is an asset to the company,” he says. “But everyone has different experiences in life – some not as much as others. At many companies, people in charge tend to hire people like them, so minority groups are often not included in hiring, promotion, or succession planning. I think ERGs can help educate at all levels. Employees who are promoted from within the company then carry those values and become agents of change.”
Allies can also help drive change, offering support to the African American and Black communities. “People can best be an ally by being an effective bystander,” says Latisha, “and by having the skills to call out racism when they see it or hear it.”
When it comes to being an ally within a corporate setting, Richard advocates for self-awareness. “Recognize why you prefer one applicant over another,” he says. “Are you hiring because someone looks like you, or because you feel more at ease with one applicant over another? After interviewing, did you learn anything, and did you listen? Be an ally by thinking openly and looking at all possibilities.”
During Black History Month, Latisha and Richard enjoy embracing their own traditions. “Black History Month is a celebration of not only African American and Black history and culture, but also an opportunity to prepare and look toward the future,” says Latisha.
“I teach my children to embrace their Nigerian, European, and Lenape Native American heritage,” Richard says. “I also emphasize the Black family culture we have created in the U.S. – since that is their Black history.”
Ultimately, celebrating key milestones and fostering belonging through ERGs both drive to a common goal – openness and inclusion. Says Richard, “Hopefully, people will feel free to offer creative views on improvements, within themselves and for others.”
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