The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Day, celebrated each year on the third Monday in January, is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service. Today, Bluebird Botanicals wants to take this time to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, and to renew our own commitment to serving others.
It’s widely known that Dr. King was the driving force behind the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, both non-violent demonstrations against racism. These non-violent protests helped lead to pivotal pieces of legislation, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, which explicitly outlaw discrimination in the labor force and racism within the voting system.
However, as noted in The Atlantic, “[King]‘s nonviolent resistance never meant private abandonment of self-defense or even complete conversion to pacifism.” Non-violence was never meant to be a “do-nothing,” strategy. Instead, King promoted active resistance — read: service, advocacy or protest — utilizing non-violence as a tool (and guess what? He owned guns for self-defense, too).
Dr. King’s call to action was exactly that – a call to take conscious actions in support of the people and causes you care for, the end goal being a more diverse, well-integrated community capable of supporting its members.
Today, less than 40 percent of major corporations include MLK Day as a major paid holiday. However, many companies including Bluebird offer a floating holiday or volunteer paid time off that can be used on MLK Day to allow employees to give time back to their respective communities. Bluebird grants 16 hours of volunteer PTO to full-time employees per year so that they can contribute to organizations they are passionate about serving.
This move to prioritize volunteering is an essential shift in the corporate world toward fostering a more inclusive workforce and society and it feeds directly into our 2020 vision. As part of this vision, and to honor Dr. King’s legacy, Bluebird has made a commitment to supporting through direct volunteer service, financial contributions, and strategic partnerships that can enhance our ability to make a difference.
However, while service is a powerful way to build community, it is just the beginning of the work.
Bluebird Botanicals knows that we still have a great deal of systemic work to do to achieve the equitable and inclusive world we envision. Companies need not only to carve out space to have the difficult conversations around race, gender, religion, and sexuality, within the workplace — but they need to stand behind diversity through their employment practices. As we engage in the work, we must remember that part of working toward equality and justice involves addressing the current shortcomings of our capitalistic system. That’s why Bluebird worked to obtain our B Corp™ Certification, joining more than 3,000 companies across 150 industries worldwide that meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
Bluebird is also an equal opportunity employer who works to enhance our existing diversity through targeted recruitment and building out our best practices in this arena. For other companies looking to support diversity within their workplace, Diversity Best Practices offers resources intended to help garner input, facilitate open communications, and celebrate successes with your staff.