Rebekah Salwasser: How to Pivot with Grace
By Evan J. Cutts
Rebekah Splaine Salwasser serves diligently in the triple role of Executive Director, Executive Vice President (EVP) for Social Impact, and MVP for The Boston Red Sox and The Red Sox Foundation.
“As EVP [of Social Impact] for the Sox, I have the honor of guiding our organization’s journey to becoming a more equitable, diverse and inclusive community for all employees and fans,” she explains.
“In the wake of that tragic killing and subsequent growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Club decided to make a more sustained commitment to social and racial justice efforts by not only assessing and auditing its internal structures that hindered equity and diversity and creating a place of belonging, but also creating an advisory committee to oversee an action plan that would ensure we were proactive and intentional about our commitment to this work.”
Following an extensive listening tour by the advisory committee “to identify the most critical needs of our organization,” Salwasser and colleagues established ten formal subcommittees to address urgent needs around diversity and inclusion. Each subcommittee, which began meeting in January of 2021, is staffed by nearly 25 volunteers and has a unique focus; some subcommittees are tackling internal projects such as Employee Resource Groups, mentorship programs, and Racial/hate speech incident policy and support. While others are focused externally to address needs in “multicultural marketing, policy advocacy, minority business partnerships, and diversifying Fenway Park,” explained Salwasser.
Already passed the one-year mark, Salwasser and her department are eager to assess the progress of each subcommittee. “This audit will also allow us to build out any newly identified areas of work that need attention and resource allocation,” she said. “We’re [also] exploring ways to partner with our other partner organizations like The Penguins and NESN to leverage our powerful brands to make a deeper impact in this space.”
With eyes on the horizon, Rebekah Salwasser considers what advice has served her on her DEI journey and is worth passing on to the next generation:
“Know how to pivot gracefully! With so much uncertainty, it’s imperative that you can effectively and creatively – and convincingly – adjust and readjust with whatever is thrown at you. Also – if you manage people – check in on them! This is a really hard time. And everyone’s handling it differently. Make time to ensure your people are okay.”