Since our founding in 2005, Next Street has committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and through the work we do. In 2019, we officially launched our Inclusive Impact Committee (IIC) to focus those efforts; in the wake of events in 2020, we intensified our commitment to long-lasting change as an anti-racist institution; and in 2022, we named anti-racism as one of our core values.

An Update on Our Progress

2022 was a year of growth and evolution for us as a firm, and the work of the IIC reflects both of those experiences. This year, we continued to push ourselves to ensure that our core value of anti-racism is centered in our internal ways of working and our external work, including:

Launched a long-term compensation plan that reflects our anti-racist values
  • Read more about our transparent pay approach, and what we’ve learned through implementing it in this article from Next Street’s Chief of Staff Cydnee DeToy
  • Aligning your compensation model to your organizational values is essential, and being transparent about pay has benefits both internally and with potential new hires
Awarded the 2nd Annual Next Street Inclusive Impact Grants to five small businesses owned by BIPOC entrepreneurs in Cook County, IL
Engaged in firmwide anti-racist training to better institutionalize anti-racist best practices and ensure equitable processes across all departments
  • In collaboration with Crossroads, continued to provide all staff with anti-racist training and causcausing
  • Through cohorts, engaged with readings, frameworks, stories, exercises, and discussions to deepen understanding of anti-racist best practices and working towards antiracism as a way of being
Other updates include:
  • Formalized “anti-racism” as one of Next Street’s core values (Co-CEO Charisse Conanan Johnson spoke with Fortune Magazine about how Next Street is working to create an anti-racist society – read more here)
  • Onboarded 6 new IIC members
  • Outlined pre-engagement considerations and activities that ensure alignment of values with prospect clients and partners

Our Priorities for 2023

Beginning in October, the IIC has reflected on our progress in 2022 and started to prioritize the continued work we want to tackle in the new year to meet our anti-racist commitments.

To guide our work going forward, the IIC has centered around four strategic pillars to help identify annual objectives and goals, measure and track progress, and ensure that our work continues to build upon itself.

  1. People – We aim to empower and support the individuals that make up the “people” at Next Street by dismantling systemic and structural inequalities that may affect individuals of color and providing staff with resources, education, and opportunities. This encompasses changes to recruitment and compensation updates and transparency.
  2. Community – We aim to create an inclusive, equitable, and just community at Next Street that supports all members regardless of race, ethnicity, or other characteristics. This includes providing anti-racism training, racial caucusing, and the recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday.
  3. Impact – We aim to create tangible impact in reducing racism and promoting equity with the partners, clients, and communities we work with. This encompasses our work integrating values into our business development process and our annual grants program to small businesses owned by people of color.
  4. Accountability – We aim to create a culture of accountability to track and measure progress in our goals. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of different approaches and structures, making adjustments as needed, and sharing learnings and best practices with others through our communications.

To better understand firm-wide perspectives on our anti-racism work, we collected input from staff through an engagement survey. We plan to use this survey as an annual tool to track progress and to keep us accountable to our goals and strategic pillars.

As we head into 2023, our priorities continue to center our core firm value of anti-racism. In the coming year, we’ll continue broadening our commitment externally while reinforcing our internal structures to best support our people and community.

We recognize there is still so much more to be done. We hope you’ll join us.