The Clorox Change Makers initiative spotlights people who actively celebrate diversity and create a more inclusive culture, making a positive impact on our business and culture. This week we focus on Todd Stracke, a senior project manager in our Product Supply Organization.
ERG membership has skyrocketed during the past two years, with the majority of growth among allies. The statistics highlight a clear commitment from the Clorox community to learning about and supporting diversity.
Todd Stracke is one of those people. An ally turned advocate, Todd has become an active and engaged member of the steering team for BELIEVE, our ERG representing Black employees. He uses his project management skills and unique perspective as an ally to help support the ERG. Here he shares what continues to motivate him to help drive cultural change at Clorox and beyond.
How long have you been an ally?
I got more involved about two years ago when social injustices started escalating nationally and I wanted to understand more. While attending some of the Cup of Understanding sessions at Clorox, it was the personal stories that my friends and colleagues shared that were truly eye opening. Honestly, it shocked me that my friends had so many awful, racist experiences, while I was completely oblivious that it happens as often as it does. The events that get national attention are very disturbing, but hearing firsthand experiences simply hit me in a more personal way. It helped me realize that there is so much more to be aware of than the tragedies that have drawn national attention, and that everyday life for people of color can be very different from my own.
How has your experience with BELIEVE shaped or influenced your life outside of Clorox?
I’m working to have conversations with friends and family, trying to increase their awareness. Usually, these conversations begin after a comment is made that I don’t agree with. I’ve been surprised at how difficult these discussions can be. Many people struggle to “get it” because they only have their own experiences, and they haven’t made the effort to understand how different life is for people of color.
What keeps you committed to being an ally? What keeps you showing up?
Mostly I want to do my part to hopefully make a difference and to help drive change … as small as that might be. My personal involvement with BELIEVE is a tiny thing, but hopefully I can encourage others to make the effort to understand a bit more — to have some empathy, to listen and to understand. If you are white and you believe that life for a person of color really isn’t that different from yours, I challenge you to learn and to understand. There really are huge differences that we don’t experience.
How do you think we could help those who are interested in learning more?
There have been some great learning opportunities while at work, and it would be helpful to be able to share that information to help drive awareness at home. This is something that other companies have for their employees after racial incidents in the country or within their own company.
What have you learned from being an ally?
Just how differently people are treated. It makes me wonder: If I were Black, how different would I feel getting pulled over by the police? Or how challenging would it have been to have had the same employment opportunities?
Do you think those people you are allies with are responsible for educating allies?
No, but I think it’s very important for people of color to have a safe space to share their personal experiences with their white friends and with anyone who is willing to listen. Maybe it will have the same impact on them as it did on me. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of white people to take steps to understand or to at least make an effort to listen, not the responsibility of the Black community to bear the burden of educating others. Without this, we’ll continue to move on blindly to the injustices, like we have for far too long.
What core values do you feel contribute to your allyship?
Empathy and perspective. During my I&D journey I came across a quote that is believed to be from Benjamin Franklin that has stuck with me: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” I think this applies well to race issues in the U.S., and this is why it’s important for white people to do more since in many ways we are the “unaffected.” There are actually a good number of allies who are part of BELIEVE, but it would be even better if more would actively participate. Initially, I was hesitant to join the BELIEVE steering committee because I didn’t know if I’d be welcome to participate at that level as a white male for a Black ERG, but I’m really glad that I did. I continue to learn, and it has been a welcoming, great experience.
I&D at Clorox
To live our purpose and values, we must build a workplace where every person can feel respected, valued and fully able to participate in our Clorox community. We aim to lead by example, at every level within the company, and to continually challenge ourselves to do better. Learn more about our inclusion and diversity efforts here.