How do we adequately “measure” leadership in the broadband, construction, or engineering spaces? How does our approach meet the needs of different communities?

In a recent episode of Beer & Broadband, our panelists shared their views on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.

Empathetic Leadership

Although many organizations may plaster their websites with images of happy, diverse team members – it’s clear these displays of performative inclusiveness are nothing more than fluff. How are leaders in the broadband space truly being empathetic and courageous in both their actions and words? We believe it starts with understanding the needs of diverse stakeholders, especially when our work directly impacts underserved communities.

When working with Tribal Nations, we never enter a conversation starting with “this is how we do it”. Instead, we take the time to talk to residents and understand their unique needs. This approach takes time and resources to properly complete, but in our experience we’ve found that collaborating with communities leads us to innovative ideas and solutions that may not have been considered otherwise.

The key to measuring leadership is by looking at the impact that leaders have on the people they serve. This in turn will help organizations become more effective in serving the needs of their communities.

Talent Retention

In today’s labor shortage, many organizations are struggling to keep their employees but yet often don’t realize what they’re doing wrong. When talented employees start to leave, this should be the first red flag to leadership to determine what’s happening within their organization.

This internal analysis should start at the top. Leaders must be the first to take accountability and make meaningful changes if they want to proactively prevent employees from leaving. This can be a hard and humbling process but necessary if organizations want to attract and retain the best talent available. 

Next, everyone in an organization must take accountability for creating a culture that allows problematic behavior to occur. It’s not just the people who make sexist or racist comments who are at fault – but also the bystanders who refrain from stepping in to stop inappropriate behavior. This culture shift requires every individual to take responsibility and make meaningful changes. Although this can be a difficult and arduous process, it’s necessary for the long-term benefits that both team members and workplaces will achieve.

This process of reflection can be especially difficult for companies operating in systemically conservative industries such as construction or politics. Change is necessary if organizations want to retain employees and stay competitive.

Affordable Broadband: Analyzing ACP Funding

As state and federal governments fund infrastructure projects with tax dollars, these funds should be used to fund all Americans equally. Unfortunately the diversity of the American population isn’t always represented in infrastructure projects. Today, grants and sub-grants now require diversity as a prerequisite for funding. Its undoubtedly challenging to require everyone to follow these rules, so some may take shortcuts to falsify information are secure funding.

Recent data from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) shows a clear impact on broadband usage plus the challenges faced by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in providing affordable and equitable broadband access. 

One of the most interesting findings is that economically challenged ACP users typically use up to 40% more data than non-ACP users. This indicates that there is significant pent-up demand for broadband access among individuals who may not be able to afford it. Additionally, ACP users aren’t simply opting for the cheapest or free plans available; instead they are using the program to purchase higher-speed tiered plans to obtain more gigabit services. This further highlights the importance of affordable and quality broadband access for all.

There are specific challenges faced by multigenerational families who live under one roof including college students returning home and older relatives aging in place. The need for broadband access is real and the data shows that affordable broadband access is crucial to meet this demand.

Although the ACP program is helping countless families across the country, it was not designed to be a permanent solution to delivering affordable broadband access. While the program is currently subsidizing broadband for economically challenged individuals, it’s uncertain whether program funding will continue and for how long. If funding runs out, ISPs may raise prices making broadband less affordable for those who need it most.

Broadband is not a luxury – it’s a necessity for participating in modern society. The challenge remains how we ensure that affordable broadband is available to all Americans regardless of economic status, gender, race, or faith.

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