The J.E.D.I. Journey: Kite Hill
“Patience is key as everyone is on a slightly different journey.”
In our new series, we profile local companies to learn about the commitments and efforts they are making to integrate Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I) into the fabric of their company. There are many paths, and the efforts come in all shapes and sizes. To kick off our series we interviewed Shannon Toyos, CMO of Kite Hill.
What does Kite Hill do?
Kite Hill makes a variety of delicious, dairy-free foods, including velvety nut milk yogurt, dairy-free almond milk cream cheese, dips, buttery, fresh almond milk ricotta, and rich pasta varieties that both vegans and non-vegans crave. If you’re following a dairy-free lifestyle like me, these are a must-try.
How many employees are in your company?
What sparked your company to get started on the journey?
The spark was the death of George Floyd last year. As a company, we could not just watch racial injustice and wanted to be part of the change. We not only made a corporate donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help support the people creating meaningful change in the world but founded an internal DEI&B (Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belonging) Council to ensure that the change started from within.
How did your company get started on the JEDI journey?
As a company, we felt there was an opportunity to start the JEDI journey at our company and had a group of 10 cross-functional hand-raisers form a council with an experienced facilitator in the space. Kite Hill also hired an external DEI&B Consultant to advise the council and the Leadership Team. This council was formed a year ago and has been able to spark meaningful change in the company. They developed an overall strategy that has largely influenced defining company values. One of the core pillars of the strategy focuses on education and to have company sessions on meaningful topics every quarter.
What has the journey been like so far?
The journey has been eye-opening and change is difficult. It took me a while to realize that each individual is on a JEDI journey and as one of the Leadership Team’s Liaison to the Council, the most important role for me is to enable the important conversations to start happening in the company. However, for these conversations to start happening, we realized you can’t just have a training session on a subject matter and move onto the next topic. We had a training session on Unconscious Bias and Psychological Safety and realized that we need to practice these concepts which would require a few more sessions to ensure we really master these subjects.
We are proud of the work we have done in just one year but know there is so much work ahead of us.
What has your company’s journey looked like?
Patience is key as everyone is on a slightly different journey but we all support each other and know that the important thing is we are headed in the right direction on this journey. Some days it feels like we are making baby steps and other days it feels like we have had big JEDI wins. The council is passionate about the space and really rallies around JEDI. For example, Juneteenth is a holiday at Kite Hill, and to reinforce the importance of the day, the Council put together a handout for the company explaining why we celebrate Juneteenth and some ways to celebrate the holiday.
Interested in sharing your J.E.D.I. journey? Reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.