At Online Optimism, we see diversity, equity, and inclusion not only as an important part of our organization, but as an essential element to our long-term success. Becoming a more equitable company is directly tied to achieving our vision. Holding ourselves to high standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion to make ourselves and our industry a better place to work is an absolute necessity.
Here’s how we aim to live up to that expectation:
Employees attend in-depth anti-racism training annually. This 8-hour training provides our team with the education, knowledge, and language necessary to have important conversations about race in an appropriate and safe environment. In 2020, our training was provided by Overcoming Racism .
Interviewers go through an annual Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace training through the Compliance Training Group .
Specialists (our paid interns) are provided tickets to at least 2 events during their program covering topics around diversity, anti-racism, and equity in marketing, advertising, or design. They are highly encouraged to attend; the events are scheduled while they’re on the clock. All attendees are tasked with collaborating on content (like this post) about what they learned.
New employees at Online Optimism are required to attend all Specialists’ events until they can attend their first anti-racism training with other full-time employees.
Through our Donate, Elevate program, Online Optimism will match 100% of the donations Optimists make to their favorite 501(c)(3) non-profit. This long-term program has an added twist: each year, our team will review local non-profits and choose one to donate to throughout the year in each city. The employee’s chosen non-profit in their city will receive the same amount of money as that being matched from the employee’s donation. In the end, we give 200% of what our employees choose to donate personally.
We select different Donate, Elevate companies for each city we’re located in. In 2022, we chose nonprofits that focus on urban farming in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, DC. While COVID-19 has negatively impacted our community in many ways, it has increased sustainable and accessible food options for already underserved communities. Thus, we chose organizations that support groups and individuals that help decrease the gap New Orleans,, Atlanta, and DC communities face regarding accessibility to sustainable food options: Sprout NOLA, Truly Living Well, Dreaming Out Loud, Inc., and The Urban Garden Initiative.
Sprout NOLA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization in New Orleans. Their mission is to “work towards a better food system by making farming accessible to everyone—that means anyone who wants to farm as a hobby, career, or anywhere in between.” Their initiatives involve supporting their community in several different ways: farmer training, technical assistance and coalitions, community gardening and food sovereignty, and advocating for equitable policy change. Sprout NOLA frequently hosts events and classes to fund and support their mission and goals surrounding farming, gardening, and community-building in and around the New Orleans area. See our spotlight for Sprout NOLA.
Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TWL) is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization “committed to bringing good food, good health and well-being to Atlanta’s urban community.” TWL focuses on the health and wellness of the Atlanta community and achieves its mission through programs that involve education, providing nutritious food, job creation, and agriculture training.
Dreaming Out Loud is a non-profit organization located in Washington, DC. Their mission is to create economic opportunities for the DC metro region’s marginalized communities through building a healthy, equitable food system. They believe that every individual should have access to fresh and healthy food and view the food system as a way to build community wealth. Dreaming Out Loud understands the vital role of the food system in sustaining the health of individuals living in marginalized communities. See our spotlight for Dreaming Out Loud.
The Urban Garden Initiative is a national non-profit organization whose mission is “to inspire and empower youth to achieve urban sustainability through a gardening-based educational program.” The organization achieves this mission with a year-long environmental education program and provides youth with the opportunity to engage in urban gardening in both the fall season and springtime. TUGI partners and coordinates with schools nationwide to implement their environmental education program into the curriculum.
For 2021, Online Optimism donated to MACCNO, Jared’s Heart of Success, and Life Pieces to Masterpieces.
Total donated by Online Optimism in 2020: $1,800
We have a responsibility within our community to be leaders in our industry and help the businesses surrounding us. With this in mind, we’ve gathered a set of partners dedicated to providing our expertise, services, and financial backing to support Venture to Ignite Black Entrepreneurship (VIBE), a creative marketing grant.
With this grant, a collection of local creative agencies & media companies, including Online Optimism, helps local Black-led New Orleans businesses bolster their marketing and push their organization in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Black-led businesses, as well as those led by other marginalized groups, statistically receive far less representation, support, and spending dollars than other businesses. While larger systemic changes are necessary to combat these issues, we’re committed to doing our part to make a change today. While the systemic change will take decades, we’re working to do our small part. You can learn more about the disparity between minority business owners and white business owners in New Orleans in this piece by one of our clients, The Data Center.
The Data Center reported that although Black people own 40% of businesses within New Orleans, they only receive 2% of all receipts. In the spirit of Bettering Our Community and continuing our mission to better support the Black community, we provide an annual digital creative marketing grant for Black-led businesses in New Orleans.
The 2020 winner of our VIBE grant was K. Allen Consulting, an education & management consulting firm owned by Krystal Allen. We crafted a custom campaign to fit their marketing needs; our Digital Advertising team advertised their consulting services, including DEI, along with a subscription service for other consulting firms called CATALYST. At the end of the 2-month campaign, the client was getting leads and traffic from around the country. It resulted in massively increased web traffic and was easily the source of most of their visitors.
Read more about the requirements and awards for our VIBE grant.