Every February, Black History Month serves as an opportunity to commemorate and celebrate the many contributions and significant influence of Black Americans. At Flex, the observance inspires us to share the histories and experiences of our Black colleagues with our Flex Family and give back locally, strengthening inclusiveness and a greater sense of belonging in our workplace and more broadly, our communities, for current and future generations alike. Learn more about how our activities have taken shape.
This time of reflection on where the past intersects with the present provides us with the opportunity to decide what we want the future to become. The history of nations and a people tell the stories of their struggle and challenges overcome to realize greatness in our world and each other. And still, there is more work to do.- Latonia Knox, Global Head, Inclusion and Diversity
She continued, "I urge us all to continue being courageous and intentional about the paths we choose to address the inequities in society and the workplace; holding ourselves accountable to do better than those before us, leaving an indelible mark of equality for all for generations to come."
Marking the occasion with employees
We marked the month-long occasion in partnership with the Black Flex Network (BFN), an employee resource group, through wide-ranging educational opportunities to learn about the heritage and history of our Black colleagues. This year, activities spanned an information series highlighting influential Black inventors – past and present - and their significant achievements, a webinar focused on widespread energy poverty in Africa and how manufacturing can play a crucial role in its eradication, and a virtual scavenger hunt with the Smithsonian to walk through Black history, to name a few.
Employees around the world were also invited to A Call to Action – Following in the Steps of Dr. King, a webinar where David Acey relayed personal inspiring stories of himself, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other selfless activists during the Civil Rights Movement. After sharing his captivating and deeply moving experience, Mr. Acey challenged participants to continue the fight against racial inequalities as well as take action in local communities.
Contributing to our communities
Recognizing the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and helping to address social inequalities, we continue to focus on accelerating meaningful change in our local communities before, during and after the month-long observance. The Flex Foundation, our private, non-profit that supports philanthropic initiatives, the BFN and other groups worked together to provide grants or contribute to the following organizations, among others:
-Cass Community Social Services to hire maintenance staff who implemented COVID-19 cleaning protocols. The donation enabled the support agency to continue providing food, housing, health services, and job programs.
-The SAFE Alliance Family Shelter to help combat a resources strain when occupancy at the shelter was reaching its maximum, and aid victims of domestic violence with housing support and hygiene kits. The timely donation provided immediate relief to families in central Texas.
-SAVE (Shelter Against Violent Environments) to provide housing support and hygiene kits for victims of domestic violence. Funds helped keep multiple families in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
-INROADS to assist placing ethnically, diverse students in internships as a path to corporate and community leadership.
-Alexandria (LA) Middle Magnet School to provide MiFi devices for the 80% of students unable to remotely learn due to lack of satisfactory internet access. With our support, 100% of students are connected and learning.
-Capuchin Soup Kitchen to help provide meal programs and nutrition support.
-Volunteers of America Michigan to purchase holiday gifts and supplies to families in need.
-Salvation Army to sponsor families for the Angel Tree project and donate masks to the Austin Area Urban League.
Nurturing the next generation
Mentoring the next generation is essential to nurturing future talent. Identifying the need for role models of color who work in STEM and advancing representation, many members of the Black Flex Network actively engage, mentor and inspire students within our communities.
Participating employees mentored Southfield High School students as part of the 2020 FIRST Robotics program competition. The program matched STEM professionals with students as they built and operated robots for competition.
Mentors engaged with students and challenged the group on their robotic entry. The relationship was particularly meaningful for member Shane Scarbrough, a Flex Mechanical Engineer. He is a Southfield alum who was positively impacted by the program’s benefits when he participated as a student.
As members got to know the students on a personal level, they were able to share first-hand, inspirational experiences on how STEM education can produce successful and rewarding careers.
Resume writing and interview skills
Supporting a mentoring initiative with Atlantic Impact, several employees assisted urban skilled trade students with formal resume writing and career interviewing skills. Many mentees did not have prior know-how on presenting their abilities and experiences.
Mentors developed relationships and uncovered different experiences in students’ background. Oftentimes students had prior leadership examples, or a demonstrable aptitude for creative problem solving, yet were unaware of how to highlight these valuable experiences.
The mentorship impact was measurable, with various students receiving internship opportunities and job offers.
Computer literacy and coding training
The BFN provided mentoring and financial resources to support The Hidden Genius Project and StreetCode Academy, two organizations that provide high quality technical education to underserved communities.
BFN members engaged students on a learning platform centered on science and technology accessibility. One goal of their mentorship was to demonstrate that a career path of engineering, science or technology was attainable and lucrative.
Participants took courses according to their aptitude and experience. Everything from basic literacy to advanced computer coding, App development, AutoCAD, and 3D modeling was taught.