I recently attended a screening of “Welcome Home,” a short documentary by findhelp and the Immigrant Welcome Center about the experiences of four immigrants moving to Indianapolis. I was struck by these newcomers’ resilience and hope in the face of unfathomable challenges: A new language. New customs. Unspoken rules to navigate. Not to mention the distrust they’re often faced with in their new home country.
In both the film and Q&A that followed, I reflected on the parallels between the immigrant experience and that of others who are discriminated against because of their race, religion, gender, sexual identity, or ability. One immigrant, Sergio Roldan-Alvarez, summed up my thoughts when he referred to himself as a “shadow person,” someone who is treated as less than others.
“Here, I am called an immigrant. A Guatemalan American. I am a naturalized citizen of this country. When do I get to just be an American?” Roldan-Alvarez remarked.
What a powerful question.
When do immigrants move from outsider to belonging? To becoming a part of our country, our neighborhood, our schools, our businesses? Perhaps a better question would be, “Why do Americans feel so empowered to deny people that sense of belonging?” That is an often-unspoken question that needs to be at the core of all DEI work.
This past year has been a year of transition at Well Done. Ken Honeywell, our founder and my business partner, retired at the end of 2021. Since then, we’ve revisited our agency brand promise and positioning. We’ve assessed our workflow processes to become more efficient in delivering client solutions. We’ve restructured our teams and filled nearly a dozen positions. We are being intentional in our transition from an advertising and PR agency to a strategic and integrated marketing agency to better meet our clients’ marketing—and business—needs of the future.
We continue to work on our pledges to the community as part of the Indy Racial Equity Pledge project, but I will admit that our larger DEI efforts have taken a back seat amid all this change. That won’t be the case next year. Thanks to our new DEI committee, led by Jody Stout and Marissa Smith-Kenny, we have a robust action plan for 2023. Because of their initiative, Well Done will be able to continue our work of learning about diverse communities and creating a culture of inclusion and equity for an increasingly diverse team next year and beyond.
And, as we look outward to understand the experiences that have shaped the racial, gender, and sexual identity divides in this country, we also will look inward and discuss how outdated ways of thinking—both here at Well Done and as a community at large—have prevented us from truly making space for people, all people.