Upholding the principles of Democracy
We are processing the violence that took place on January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol. We believe that as participants in this society we all must agree on basic democratic and anti-violence principles. What happened at the Capitol was abhorrent. To all our staff, partners, and colleagues in DC and across the country who were personally impacted—with family and friends in harm’s way—we are here for you.
While this act of domestic terrorism was focused on the 2020 election, both the attack and the response to it clearly show that white supremacy is rampant in this country and poses a threat to our democracy. The actions of the rioters were fueled by white supremacist rhetoric and many of the symbols on display during the attack are directly tied to racist and anti-Semitic groups. When contrasted with the response and the reaction to Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, it is clear that inequity and racial discrimination are core to this story. As a country, how we respond to this matters. As an organization, we must pay attention and let this serve as a reminder that we need to actively challenge and dismantle systems of oppression in the work we do.
The energy system, including the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate industry in which we work, continues to contribute to racial inequity. Racial bias continues to influence hiring practices. People of color continue to face discrimination within and outside the workplace. Clean energy programs are often not accessible to communities of color. We must hold ourselves accountable and demonstrate that we are serious about our commitment to fight for racial justice, and VEIC is intentionally making equity, diversity, and inclusion a focus throughout our operations.
Since 2018, we have shifted the composition of VEIC's Board of Directors from entirely white and predominantly male, to a Board with racial and geographic diversity and equal male-female representation. Through our consulting work and our administration of the DCSEU, Efficiency Vermont, and Efficiency Smart, we are dedicated to reaching underserved and marginalized communities. And in our search for a new CEO, our hiring team and Board of Directors are engaging in bias training and seeking an individual who will help VEIC double down on our commitment to anti-racism.
As members of this society we have a responsibility to engage in hard conversations, to condemn acts of terrorism, and to dismantle systems of oppression. In 2020, with the help of Abundant Sun, VEIC launched an internal committee to examine our company culture and foster open communication and wellbeing among our staff. That work requires personal reflection and civil discourse, as we reach beyond our existing networks and build understanding and empathy. VEIC models and encourages this approach among our staff and we see it as the difficult, essential work needed to uphold the principles of democracy.
Change will not happen quickly, but we feel it is important to acknowledge that we as an organization and each of us as individuals have a part to play in making this planet safe and just for all people.
Rebecca Foster, Interim CEO and Nick Richardson, President of Vermont Land Trust and Chair of the VEIC Board of Directors