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Empowered People, Inclusive Cultures – GPJ’s EPIC Employee Resource Group

EPIC is GPJ’s employee resource group for multicultural employees. We tackle big issues and have big plans to shift diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within our organization and industry, so we needed a big name (an epic one). EPIC stands for Empowered People, Inclusive Cultures.

We are culturally diverse, traditionally underrepresented, and ready to use our experiential expertise to create the emotional catalyst we need to make change. 

Founded in 2019, EPIC’s mission is to utilize our experiential expertise to activate inclusion (& equity) for all GPJers, our clients, our supply chain and in our communities.

2020 highlighted the importance of community support, and an all-WOC (women of color) board created new programming that answered that call. By hosting monthly ‘safe space’ meetings that address current events to the Project Empathy series, focused on storytelling by EPIC members–EPIC hopes that by supporting a culture of open communication, we can become an ever-more human agency.

February is Black History Month (BHM), an especially important opportunity to reinforce our commitment to anti-racism, amplify Black voices and become better allies.

After a tumultuous 2020, EPIC decided to release a four-part Black History Month content series, with short, approachable videos, podcasts and articles that cover the past, present and future of BHM. 

 

Bianca Bethel is EPIC’s Board Chair and a Technical Director for GPJ Live Production, and has shared her experiences of working with EPIC for the past year: 

 

 

How did you get involved in EPIC? 

I found EPIC in the summer of 2020 after hearing founder Noelle San Jose speak about some of the tragedies stemming from police brutality and other issues BIPOCs face. I reached out to learn more and lightbulb went off – I was finally talking to someone who understood my experiences. She introduced me to the team, and I joined the board! 

As a team lead with direct reports, I know first hand that having cultural intelligence and empathy are key in cultivating BIPOC leaders in organizations. I am able to bring my skills from managing Live Production Teams to DEI–and it’s been effective. Like our GPJ experiences, EPIC is all about telling an authentic human story.

What is the significance of BHM in 2021?

2020 really opened a lot of eyes to the disparities and discrimination that impacts the Black community. I feel that many non-POC’s are actively looking for content and information to help understand our perspective. Black History Month is another step in that experience. So much of Black history has been erased or modified that this month of focus helps to re-educate based on the real history of America and its people. 

Just as important, BHM also provides a space for Black people across the country to learn and celebrate their own culture and history. I myself learn something new every year and it’s a regular reminder to challenge the history books and dig deeper. 

Why did EPIC take the approach of Past, Present, Future? 

For the BHM past, present, future approach it was to call attention to the vast amount of history and information that is out there that celebrates BIPOCs and their contributions and how one month is not enough time to focus on it all.  By sharing just 3 items in each category, we hope to whet the appetite and open the mind that there is a lot of untold history out there and that work needs to be done to truly learn about it. It will take longer than 4 weeks, but we consider this a jump off point to encourage discovery all year round.

How do you hope people approach the content? 

I hope people approach the content with an appetite to learn, an empty plate and an open mind. Some content shows a different perspective and may challenge information that you’ve been taught for many years. I recommend after each content piece ask yourself a few questions to self reflect:

  • How did this content make you feel?
  • Were you able to connect with it? Why or why not?
  • Does this contradict information you’d previously learned? If so, explore the reasons for that.

What are EPIC’s 2021 goals? 

EPIC’s goals for 2021 are an extension on the foundation of empathy we sought to build in 2020. We believe empathy is the key to activating equity and creating a place where we can thrive. In 2021, EPIC will introduce Empathy+, our next phase in solidifying the foundation and pairing it with more diverse experiences and actionable elements to invite people of all backgrounds to join us in doing the work TOGETHER.  

What EPIC wants people to know?

We’re Empowered People building an Inclusive Culture at GPJ and we believe that growing TOGETHER is how we’ll get there. 

To share a sample of the Black History Month content that the EPIC team put together, here are a few resources; including articles, podcasts and videos that inform and inspire: 

Black History Month Introduction:

The ABC’s of Black History Month

The Origin Story of Black History Month 

A Schedule of Virtual Black History Month Events

From the Past: 

Knowing the Past Opens the Door to the Future The Continuing Importance of Black History Month

Podcast: Driving the Green Book 

Becoming Sojourner Truth

For the Present: 

Celebrating figures like the founders of Black Lives Matter

Podcast: The Stoop 

Race and Sports in America

To learn more about GPJ’s employee resource groups, diversity, equity and inclusion commitment and culture, visit our Culture page.