Posted by: danielrashke | June 24, 2020

TASC Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

When writing my employee address regarding the systemic racism and hate that has resulted in this tremendous divide in our nation, I knew I had to speak from my heart. As the CEO of TASC, my employees need to know that even though I can’t walk in their shoes, I will stand and walk beside them as TASC continues its journey toward becoming a business that can truly refer to itself as one that embraces and acts in accordance with diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). Those are critical components of our overall business strategy and essential to accomplishing our purpose and achieving our mission.

I am deeply moved by the overwhelming response from TASC employees following the employee webcast and the previous CEO Blog post, “Leading with Empathy, Standing for Justice.”

The responses from TASC employees came from both long tenured and newly acquired employees, in a variety of positions from entry level to senior leadership, all different demographics and locations (40+ states represented) and individuals with variety of skin tones and backgrounds.

Listening to TASC employees and what is important to them, learning how I can better understand the challenges society and individuals face and how best to act feels right in my heart and soul. Included in this is a need to further understand the challenges created by, supported by or overcome by TASC for People of Color.  I will continue to do so and encourage the leaders of TASC to do the same.

The overwhelming response from the employees was a sense of pride. Pride working for a company that takes a stance of intentional focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and excitement about the positive direction we will continue to move in.

Continuing to build a workplace dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion where everyone is comfortable and able to bring their best is the right thing to do for people and for business. DE&I ensures equal representation at the table from all demographics. Talent does not see the differences in our characteristics and demographics, it sees only aptitude, hard work and drive. DE&I ensures a dedicated, talented workforce and a respected business strategy internally and externally.

DE&I helps an organization recruit top talent, retain top talent and remain competitive in their industry as well as increase profits.  DE&I is not just the right thing to do for society. It is the right thing to do for business. It is good business. I want top talent, high performance and outcomes that out-perform my competition. I can’t get that at TASC if I don’t have a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.

TASC is expanding our understanding of the issues of discrimination in the workplace as part of our intentional focus on DE&I. We will improve employee engagement and recruitment efforts while at the same time providing us with access to new customers, consumers and markets to deepen our customer loyalty; increase our internal creativity, production and revenue and enhance our current talent pool.

We have specific objectives to improve DE&I within TASC:

  • To foster a culture where all employees can contribute, advance and feel valued,
  • To attract, develop, and retain a diverse workforce, and
  • To inspire commitment and drive accountability of leaders and employees to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their decisions, business practices and spheres of influences.

How will we get there?

In order to accomplish our long-term goals, our initial efforts are focused in two areas.

  • Establishing a framework defining our vision, philosophy, guiding principles, measurement & program plan, and building our guiding coalition and action teams to support and complete it.
  • Broadening awareness and engaging employees in the journey by conducting introductory DE&I workshops, listening sessions, providing learning resources for self-guided education, and continuing to add to our growing Employee Resource Community networks.

The activities within these two immediate focus areas will be analyzed for the purpose of mindshare and resourcing investment required to demonstrate progress against commitments made. Here are some of the action items that TASC is committing to moving forward:

  • Requiring all employees be trained in DE&I expectations within 30 days of start date and required annually thereafter.
  • Provide access to additional educational resources and eLearning’s for more targeted information and training.
  • Promote inclusive and diverse leadership with our employees through onboarding and orientation.
  • Provide access to a variety of organizations, committees and opportunities for engagement and diverse team building.
  • Offer a range of benefits to all employees that allow for a variety of services both traditional such as medical, dental and vision as well as nontraditional benefits like mental health, cost savings, life planning and more.

This unwavering commitment is for the betterment of myself, my employees, my peers and my community. We have been working for years on DE&I and will continue to do so to make necessary changes to bring unity and justice to all who have been betrayed by our societal choices. I am encouraged by TASC employees’ willingness to join with us to be a part of the solution.

It is important that I point out that TASC is NOT where it needs to be as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion. It does not exist at all levels and parts of the organization.

We have gathered a few resources that we think will help your business advance equity and eliminate discrimination in the workplace as well as provide educational tools on discrimination.

Community Action Related: This toolkit from PolicyLink helps government leaders as well as activists/advocates in the community connect with strategies to advance equity in communities.

Business Quick Hit Guide to Action: This Harvard Business Review article hits home for businesses with straight forward ideas.

Confronting Racism at Work: A Reading List: Harvard Business Review compiled a collection of articles for companies and business leaders.

Inclusion & Belonging to Drive Business Outcomes: These resources from Deloitte links inclusive practices to business performance and provides great insight for businesses looking to bolster or add in DE&I to business plans and trainings:

Creating a Culture of Belonging

Podcast: Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership 

Article: Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership 

In my follow-up webcast to employees last week I spoke of specific things I was doing and will do; I covered the same with respect to TASC, some of which we have covered in this post. In addition, we made modifications to our Volunteer Paid Time Off program, specifically what qualifies for employees’ use of the 40 hours of paid volunteer time.

One example of how we have expanded our volunteer paid time off has been to allow giving time to social justice, civic and political engagement. This encourages and supports employees who would like to use the hours for activism and standing for change, getting engaged in the policy needed for change and being involved in civic activities, which include but are not limited to voting and assisting others in being able to vote. The qualification use of this time is it must be in the spirit of and effort for changing the human condition…for the better.

Posted by: danielrashke | June 8, 2020

Leading with Empathy, Standing for Justice

The progression of my voice with respect to this subject was as follows. First, let others voice. I needed to listen. I also had a responsibility to use my voice. I had an all employee live company podcast this past Wednesday and that I felt TASC employees were deserving to hear from me before we moved externally, and I focused on the webcast and them. Now this blog, which will follow a similar track as the webcast to TASC employees.

TASC is always focused on its business objectives. In company webcasts I have used I+, G+ and E+ to represent the positive that comes from us executing on our Initiatives, achieving our Goals and the Economic gain to come from that…for them. With the pandemic I needed to put a C- and E- in front of all that to represent the negatives of Covid-19 and Economic downturn, so we hit it head on and remain committed to getting through the C- and E- to get to the plusses.

Here we are again needing to confront the negatives in our society. D-, R- and I-. Discrimination. Racism. Injustice. We need to address these head on with hopes of getting to the C+. The result must be positive Change. We have a portion of our employee webcasts entitled Bravos and Victories. In this case the Victory is still too far off, and we will need a lot of positive change to reach that point.

Voice and Vote are the two other ‘Vs’ that jump out at me.

I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd and to the millions of Americans who are angry and hurting as a result of this injustice and the many injustices before this. I am distraught by recent events and the systemic racism and discrimination plaguing our society. Words matter. Your words matter. Voice matters. Your voice matters. You matter.

I am unwavering in my commitment to my employees, my peers and my community. We will make the necessary changes to bring unity and justice to our neighbors who have been betrayed by our choices.

This isn’t a matter of wanting to speak out, we have a duty to speak out. If we don’t, we continue to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution.

My history with race and racism started in my family and my community when I was about 6 years old. Born in Milwaukee, having moved to a dairy farm in central WI when I was an infant, it was not until my family hosted a black family from Milwaukee to stay with us on the farm that I had ever seen anyone of color. They went to school with us and experienced rural life. While there were no material negative events during their time with us, or at least none visible to my eye, I could see a difference in how they were perceived by others. In my eye and my mind’s eye, I saw that they were different than me, but so was everyone else. I did see the color of their skin, but it was just another attribute of difference from me.

As I became a teenager, I started to become more aware or racism and discrimination. Some of which was experienced in my own extended family. I did not like or agree with it; I also did not understand the full impact on people’s lives. I also did not know what it may have been doing to shape me and my perspective. I did not take a stand or use my voice then. As a young teenager, I felt I was not in a position to speak out against it.

Fast forward 35+ years and in March of 2017, I stood on a stage to address the employees of TASC and said. “Unusual times. Uncertainty. Confusion. Fear. Change can bring about different emotions. It is a new day with a new political landscape. As in the past, the political landscape will shape or further solidify how we behave. Immigration is a hot topic and with all that comes with it, it raises the subject of inclusiveness. Regardless of what takes place around us, Patti and I as owners of TASC and myself as CEO will always strive for a diverse and inclusive environment and workforce. It will include a safe and positive environment with neutrality when it comes to opportunities at it relates to race, color, religions, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.”

In fall of 2019 I signed a pledge of diversity and inclusion. As I look back and reread it, it does not go far enough, but it is another step in the right direction.  In March of 2020 I once again took the stage and to the roughly one thousand members of our organization, I spoke of a system of inclusion which tied to our values, mission and desire for diverse, equitable and inclusive TASC community. We have diversity at TASC, but it is the equitable and inclusive parts I am most concerned with.

So here we are now on the backdrop of a pandemic where more injustices that existed in the shadows for black people are coming to light. Coupled with a series of recent injustices that have been widely seen (only because there was a recording, which is only the tip of the injustices iceberg), including but not limited to the death of Mr. Floyd. I know people can say ‘bad apples’, ‘bad processes/systems’, etc. I get that. In fact, good. If these are the problems, THEN FIX IT!

Which takes me to ‘why are they not already fixed?’. There are so many reasons why. There is a bigger issue of systemic racism, systemic injustice, a greater divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and a problem in our leadership. Leadership in government, leadership in business and leadership in our communities.

We need change. For the better. When I became involved in United Way the then executive director would talk about ‘changing the human condition’ and I would automatically add ‘for the better’. The victory is in the ‘change for the better’ (C+). This outcome, from whatever inputs and outputs it will take, is one of many outcomes we need to lead us to our desired result of a diverse, equitable and inclusive society.

As I eluded to earlier, in the webcast we report on victories. To get this V for Victory we need two other Vs. V for VOICE. We should all use our voice and raise our voice for positive change. If you find yourself needing to be thoughtful and if you don’t speak up right away, or maybe even choose to be silent, I get it and will not judge your extended silence as complicit. But you can still be respectful and supportive of those who speak up. If you do find yourself remaining silent, I ask that you really do some soul searching.

I have heard some of the silent break that silence on certain aspects of the protests. They talk about the protests and property damage, etc. They are not silent then. I ask that you not put form over substance.  I am not going to condone violence or property damage, but my ask is that we make sure we are talking about what is important and not just what is interesting. Let’s not focus on what is important to us without gaining a deeper understanding of what is important to others, especially currently for black people.

I do believe that if you remain silent, you are something, if not complicit. Martin Luther King had hit on this point on many occasions; “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” “Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people, but we will also have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.” “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

V is for VOTE! If change is needed and it is leadership that is responsible for such change when it comes to government leadership your vote matters. Do your homework on your leaders. Do so with creditable sources of information and verify the information. If you don’t see your leaders in government making the changes to combat these problems, or worse yet, they are furthering the problems for their own gain, vote. Vote them out and vote new leadership in.

I am a believer in people being able to reach higher, but not at the expense of keeping others down. When there is a level playing field, it is understood that there will be a different form of discrimination; one of performance. TASC is a business and capitalism is not all bad. We will favor high-performance.

So, what am I going to do? So, what is TASC going to do? As a leader in my community and my organization, I will not tolerate discrimination. I will listen to what others have to say and I will use my voice to be heard on the issues that we have failed on and to defend and demand justice for the people who we have failed.

Words are powerful but we must act. I will not tolerate any behavior relative to creating or enabling an unjust environment for our employees. We will continue to work on inclusiveness and embracing diversity; creating and bringing equal opportunity at our table regardless of our differences.

We cannot claim that all lives matter until black lives matter and until all the lives of those who are oppressed in this country matter as much as those with the most power and the loudest voices. We need leaders who fight for unity, not divide against it.

Our system is broken. It’s a learning process for us all. I continue to evolve and listen and learn and I humbly admit that I don’t have all the answers; but I’m willing to seek them out and work hard to bring justice and equality where I can, and I look to you to do the same.

I’m going to use my voice and my power for good. I am going to be honest with myself and with you that I don’t have all the answers, but I have the heart. I will see change through in my business, my relationships and my community and I will walk with those who have been wronged and who are oppressed to be a leader and vote for leaders who value this country and the people in it the way that I do.

A review of TASC policies, procedures, guiding principles, etc. needs to occur to ensure that they don’t work against us in this endeavor. We will then audit and test to see that the behavior of the organization, in its leadership and in its people, are being held accountable to the expected behaviors. TASC will also explore and afford TASC employees a way to participate in learning and social activism activities. We already allocate time for volunteerism and innovation, and we have made modifications to these in light of the pandemic, so we will determine what modifications could be made to support our TASC community in this crisis.

What am I not going to do? I won’t tell you how to feel. I won’t tell you how to act, other than my ask of you in this message. I will not encourage violent or destructive behavior, but I do understand how it can come from a place of anger and despair.  I realize that everyone’s ‘how’ is different. The ‘what’ and the ‘why’ should not be that different.

I sought out much advice and counsel. I started with my own thoughts, and then discussed with Patti.  This is very personal and very emotional. Some of that emotion overflowed into places I did not expect it, nor did I want it to, including the webcast. But as I look back and after the feedback, I received I am glad it did.

This change is needed for equality and justice and it must start from a change in both heart and mind. We then need to be address it in our homes as we teach and guide the next generation to instill further change. After 350+ years we saw 1964, and now almost 60 years later, we are still not where we need to be. This needs to be multi-generational. Given I am coming to you from a TASC CEO blog I would also say it has to further permeate into commerce. Hopefully, from all those places we see societal change. There lies our victory.  I will leave you with the advice given to me from my daughter, Tia. It may be the type of advice many of you need to hear.

“Surely, you should speak from the heart and truth-tell. In my understanding, ’this injustice’” was murder incentivized by historic police power and impunity. Give specific examples for how you will ’be in solidarity’ through actions, not just say you are in solidarity through thoughts of your black employees and the people of color oppressed by systemic racism. Open yourself as a leader to accountability from your employees and community rather than asking your employees to trust that you hold yourself accountable. Consider how office dynamics within your organization silence voices of color and perpetuate white supremacy (I know lots of [white] people have a difficult time swallowing this language, but it’s a reality). The protests/riots this weekend and week are about so much more than thoughts and prayers and remembrance; it’s about expressing anger and a desire for a more just society, more just distribution of power and privilege, more just political leadership, more just community policing and accountability, etc.

But, like I said, you must be authentic to yourself if you’re going to share something ‘controversial’ that you’re willing to stand behind (and take minor risk for). What does justice mean and look like to you? What are some personal, interpersonal, institutional, societal/cultural paths toward this vision? (But you don’t have to be as articulate as MLK.) My recommendation is that you consider opening yourself and your power and your institutional policies up to critique, acknowledging that you too benefit from a system/culture that hurts so many others.“

 

Posted by: danielrashke | May 27, 2020

Making Great Benefits Even Better

1TASC is proud of our commitment to our customers every day. Since 1975, we have evolved to meet the ever-evolving needs of our clients and their employees and work with them to provide benefit options that feel like benefits every day and in times of great need.

We have worked with The Federal Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) since 2016. We transferred their workplace giving campaign from entirely paper-based system into a centralized online platform.

OPM was looking for a one-stop shop where charitable organizations and donors could access all the information needed to be successful in giving and in receiving donations.

Together, we worked to develop a donor-centric platform by analyzing their giving patterns and creating a platform empowering employees to give back simply and effectively with choice and control over how, when and where they give.

We built an enterprise solution consisting of a Charity Application system that allows any 501(c)(3) organization to apply and enroll in the campaign; an Enrollment and Administration system for donors to pledge charitable contributions; and unique payroll integrations with 35 payroll providers.

TASC is the only government contractor to integrate across all Federal agencies and departments. In addition, our system is certified for security and financial integrity over several lengthy government audits.

But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at this video interview with Keith Willingham, Director of Office of Combined Federal Campaign from 2018.

More recently, OPM approved a special solicitation period allowing Federal government departments and agencies the authority to conduct a giving campaign for employees and retirees to provide much needed financial assistance to a variety of charitable organizations between April 20 and June 30.

Said Willingham of the app, “Giving employees the chance to help from the comforts of their own home is empowering when many feel powerless.”

Our team worked with OPM to get them set up with the giving app which provides a simple, safe and secure way for federal employees and retirees to give from the comfort of their home. With the app, employees were able to set up one a time, recurring gift or start a new payroll cycle with a giving amount per pay period.

Learn more about our continued work with OPM to improve and enhance the Combined Federal Campaign and the Giving App in this 2020 interview with Keith Willingham.

https://tascresponds.com/ne

ws/helping-others/

TASC is committed to working with our clients to positively impact the way do business and provide the benefits and options employees need.

I take a lot of pride in knowing that TASC is dedicated to inspiring people and giving even when the news around us is less than inspiring. We provide easy to use benefit solutions that have a profound impact on employees which affects the relationship they have with their employer, their family and their community. Working with OPM on the Combined Federal Campaign and the GiveBack App is just one of many examples of how we accomplish this every day for our clients.

Posted by: jenzisser | May 4, 2020

Giving Tuesday Now

charity

Giving Tuesday Now is May 5, 2020 and I want to encourage you to take time to consider what your business could do to unite, even if from afar, to make a difference not only on this day but beyond.

From very early in my life, I understood that giving back is important – whether of time, talent or treasure. As a business owner, it’s an integral part of my business culture and how we tick. All of us at TASC are ready for tomorrow and Giving Tuesday Now. This is a global day of giving taking place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the extraordinary need caused by COVID-19.

It is our hope that this event will bring giving back to the forefront of people’s minds. Giving has been steadily decreasing for some time. According to Giving USA’s 2019 Annual Report, individual giving has decreased from 70% of overall giving in 2017 to 68% in 2018. This is the first time giving by individuals has fallen below 70 percent of overall giving since at least 1954. Unless something changes this trend is likely to continue.

We start with Giving Tuesday Now, a day dedicated to giving and then we build upon it. The Greater Give supports and provides the construct for sustainable charitable giving to help employers easily implement workplace giving initiatives that empower the Everyday Philanthropist® through the Everyday Philanthropist Act (H.R. 4002).

The recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows for two important changes to charitable giving for the 2020 tax year: the temporary partial Universal Charitable Deduction (UCD) and expansion of the limitations on larger giving. The Greater Give is supportive of any proposal or legislation that will encourage and expand charitable giving. We applaud legislative proposals that foster a culture of giving back, especially in these chaotic and challenging times.

These changes are a good first step, but these provisions will only apply for this year. We need a lasting solution and we’ve got one: The Everyday Philanthropist Act. We are working with legislators on this groundbreaking legislation to encourage giving by allowing employees to set aside up to $2700 pretax for the purpose of donating to the causes they care about. This would be a permanent improvement that facilitates a culture of giving.

The Everyday Philanthropist Act would give employers the opportunity to empower employees to give back and provide incentives for their business at the same time through tax savings. This compels more giving and increases the resources available to help our neighbors in need which benefits entire communities, bringing businesses and employees together.

It’s a win-win-win!

Please join me in making a contribution to your favorite cause on Giving Tuesday Now and please consider joining the movement to make Everyday Philanthropist Act a reality that helps inspire giving all year around.

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