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Associates at H&R Block Are Elevating Black Voices

4 min read

4 min read

September 12, 2022

H&R Block

In August of 2020, H&R Block associates gathered to create a safe space for diverse voices in response to the company’s commitment to help end racism after the murder of George Floyd. The widespread racial reckoning in America fueled the creation of the Actions We Take Committee to address systematic racism and level the playing field for Black and Brown associates at H&R Block. Throughout the last two years, the original members of that committee have been seeking an opportunity to expand and further advance BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) associate voices. Their hard work finally came to fruition with the formation of H&R Block’s newest Belonging Group, Elevate. This group is an associate-led resource to elevate, improve and champion the professional development of Black associates while advancing cultural awareness and providing a sense of belonging at H&R Block.

The new Belonging Group has already begun reaching out to company associates at H&R Block. Elevate hopes to establish regular meetings and events in the near future for members to connect, while continually growing membership, allies and volunteers, and creating resources, experiences and conversations for Elevate. The group seeks to evaluate feedback from members that will be implemented into Elevate’s values and practices to set the group up for long-term success and ensure the experience is fulfilling and worthwhile for all.

Two leaders at H&R Block are supporting Elevate as executive sponsors. Roxane Harris, Vice President of U.S. Franchise Operations, and Calvin Ricks, Vice President of U.S. Retail Sales and Service, will partner with the leaders of the group and continually work toward an equitable space and connected culture for all associates.

“Elevate was created to connect associates and create stronger relationships within the company,” said Harris. “This group welcomes all H&R Block associates to be an ally for Black voices.”

Hear from two founding Elevate members who have been volunteering their time and energy to create this space of belonging for others at H&R Block based on their own experiences, both personally and professionally.

Rochelle Petway, Licensing Specialist – Tax Training School and Chair of Elevate at H&R Block

Why is this group important to you personally?
For me personally, I feel a greater sense of community at H&R Block, as well as a responsibility to make sure we are offering our best and providing meaningful opportunities. I’m always on board to help others grow and stretch, because it allows me to grow as well. It has truly been an honor for me to contribute.

What does racial equity mean to you?
To me, racial equity is both an outcome and process. From a process perspective, racial equity is demonstrated when those most impacted by structural racial inequalities are included in the development and implementation of eliminating out-of-balance policies. By doing this, the outcome is that race is no longer a barrier to thrive.

Who has inspired you in your personal life?
My parents are incredible! They provided experiences and opportunities that challenged me and my siblings comfort zones. Whether it was through travel, education, music or sports, they always made sure we looked at life and people through a lens of community and acceptance. They also made sure we were proud (without ego) and celebrated being Black. As a kid, I may not have always understood it, but as an adult, I see how that foundation has shaped my personal and professional life.

Richard McCord, Talent Acquisition Advisor and Treasurer of Elevate at H&R Block

Why is this group important to you personally?
This group means a multitude of things. It’s a step in the right direction by showing that associates are truly supported, and that as a company, we are continuing the work to be an inclusive place for everyone at Block. This group is a clear pathway to offer support for Black associates here at H&R Block.

What does racial equity mean to you?
To me, racial equity means using our collective energy to ensure equal opportunity and access for all, regardless of race. It means giving everyone a voice, as well as equal resources across the board.

Who has inspired you in your personal life? My mentor – Johnnie Fields. Some of the experiences he had growing up in the Kansas City-area as a Black male are still issues that we currently face in our education system and workforce regarding racial inequity. Right now, I’m sharing my ideas and thoughts around building Elevate to really impact Block internally for our Black associates.

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