Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Montage team came together to discuss this year’s theme “Embrace Equity.” Offering stories of lived experiences, lessons in fostering equity in life and work, and why equity matters to them, employees contributed to a vibrant, thoughtful discussion worth sharing. Scroll down to see their thoughts.
Why is it important to embrace equity?
“Equity is important because of lived experiences. It affects a lot of people in this country, myself included. I live in Texas, where a lot of issues impact people in different ways, whether it be healthcare, literacy, maternal health. I admire the people who are boots-on-the-ground, doing the work, helping people access resources, and advocating for those that are voiceless and not seen.”– Karen, Community Engagement Manager
“We all know that we’re enriched by our diversity and our differences. There’s so much wealth out there, so much to learn and grow from each other. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a story, something to bring to the table. And you can learn from everybody. Everyone has something to teach you.”– Tarshá, Compliance Officer
“I’m not sure when equity became a polarizing term. I think it’s because these concepts get turned into buzzwords and people judge without really thinking critically about what it means. History has shown that a diverse and open population thrives and benefits. If we can’t understand the value of that, we’re cutting ourselves short.”– Matt, Director of Data & Analytics
“Equity is very important to creating a better society, a better community.”– Amy, Director of Creative Operations
“Why is [equity] so important? So that we can have jobs that we love to come to every single day and make a difference.”– Patrice, Outreach and Engagement Manager
“Equity is important to me because it promotes true inclusion and embraces folks from all different backgrounds.”– Erika, Program Coordinator
“For the first 10 years of my career, my double bachelor’s degree from Mexico was not accepted as a “real” degree in the U.S. And thus, I did not qualify for work that I was qualified for based on the inequity that international degrees were not of equivalence. I fell behind and am not at the same level as other people my age because of this. Why I work for and respect Montage so much is because they, along with recently other employers, have opened up and recognized it as legitimate educational preparation.”– Mäe, Engagement Counselor
How do you advance equity in your life?
“My first thought was about my kids. I have a boy and a girl. So I try to start at home and be a good model for them…I come from a culture where moms do everything. They cook, they clean, and dads usually are not as involved in those matters. So I try to teach them both to cook, to clean, to do all the things, because I know that [my son] will probably be a dad. And I want him to be a very involved dad as I am fortunate to have in my husband.”– Yurubi, Senior Program Manager
“I run ladies-only working meetings. We have about 30 people. And as a host, I try to see who is shy or new to the area. I try to talk to them, involve them as much as possible. Some of them don’t know anyone in this area or they just came from another country. I see them getting resources and making friends within the group. And they come back. They are eager to come back.”– Lucy, Senior Graphic Designer
“I try to make it a point to support like small businesses, specifically minority-owned and women-owned, as opposed to global brands, bigger brands. I try to make my dollars go where there will be more impactful.”– Jennifer, Staff Accountant
“Being a good active listener. Also, seeking out new businesses with shared values in my own community.”– Alex, Creative Program Manager
How do you foster equity through your work?
“How do I embrace and foster equity in my working life? I am an equity warrior in all things and I always have been. I was always disturbed by injustices and was an innovative disrupter from a child. I was created to disrupt unjust and unfair systems with respectful, yet assertive, proactive strategy, including the shifting of mindsets and perspectives through authentic introspection and real talk with love, which always elevates and amplifies implicit biases that relate to the stereotypes and privileges that ring through causing these inequities. It is very important to me that the equity lens is included from inception, and not an afterthought. And I am intentional to advocate for just that.”– Johni, Engagement Counselor
“This is really what Montage was founded on. When Mercedita and I got together to talk about what was important to us, what kind of work we wanted to be doing, [diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility were] really at the foundation of it all.”– Teresa, Chief Operations Officer
“When we’re sourcing assets, I think it really kind of forces you to come from a mindset of inclusion. And you know, kind of keeping everybody in mind that might come to our footprints and making sure that everybody has a similar and equally as fruitful experience with our programs.”– Jon, Director of Experiential Operations
“We all come from different walks of life. We all have different stories to tell and different opinions to share. And that the fact that we embrace that and that’s not something that’s dismissed, but it’s part of who we are and what we do as a company, I think it’s a great thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”– Allison, Director of Community Engagement
“I love having the conversations and thinking about how we create experiences that are going out into communities, how they’re making a positive impact, and how we’re getting people involved.”– Breck, Art Director
“Growing up in the 90s and being deaf in one ear, there wasn’t much that I could do but sit in the front of the classroom to hear the teacher better. It’s so good to see Montage do something in that regard, [creating a mobile tour that is] handicap accessible and has something for people who have an invisible disability, whether that’s being wheelchair accessible, or subtitles for hearing impaired, or people who are completely deaf.”– Erik, Program Manager
How can others embrace and advance equity?
“When you don’t listen to other people’s voices, it is not only that people are missing an opportunity, but businesses are also missing an opportunity to get enriched by all the contributions that those peoples can make and all the changes they can make… By providing language access in Spanish and other languages, we make sure that we can overcome those barriers. And we do not only say that we care, but we actually show that we care by speaking the language.”– Rodolfo, Translation Manager
“I encourage everybody to embrace every opportunity that you can to help the equity movement and realize that people are not in the same place that you might have been [at various stages of life]. Consider what were all the advantages and benefits you might have had that others don’t.”– Mercedita, Chief Executive Officer
“If you can practice self-care, hold yourself in higher regard, start to really feel like you matter, and feel empowered to take up more space, and treat yourself with kindness, you can treat the world with more kindness.”– Erica, Social Media and Digital Content Coordinator
“Equity is so important—that we believe in it, we understand it so that we can translate that into our work and our day-to-day interactions… Be a good listener. Really open your eyes, open your heart, open your ears to see and hear where other people come from and to learn from the different perspectives.”– Hank, Engagement Counselor
“As a first-generation immigrant child, my family was fortunate enough to have a very strong community that supported us. And without them providing the right resources for us and guiding us along the path, I don’t think I’d be here. If you’re new to the U.S., something as simple as a recommendation on which grocery store to go to at what time to get certain things can go an incredible distance. We often overlook some of the smaller things, but for some people, those small things are huge.”– Marada, Director of Client Services
“To quote Bill and Ted: Just be excellent to each other.”– Espen, Data Analyst