A Government Services Company’s Approach to Navigating a Global Pandemic and Civil Unrest
Our country is currently facing some of the most difficult challenges it has ever seen in its history. While a global pandemic continues to spread, killing thousands and affecting the livelihood of every citizen, civil unrest regarding the treatment of the Black community in the United States has emerged. Due to the recent acts of racist violence committed by police forces, protests and riots have taken over major cities and surrounding areas, petitions are being signed, and charities created and donated to. Social media has been completely overtaken by the topic, allowing for broad and wide scale national engagement. This conversation is not a new one, but this is the first time in a long time that the large majority of citizens, businesses, and platforms are engaged. This has been a very interesting time to join a company, especially one working with government sectors in Washington, D.C.. Not to mention that within my first week here at E3/Sentinel Federal Solutions acquired another company, their third in six months (lots of integration happening). Since I am a Project Management Intern supporting Integration, Internal Talent Management, and Marketing, this means big news and a lot of work for me. E3S is incredibly busy, juggling many balls at the moment with the acquisition, conducting a renaming/rebrand for the entire company, and keeping up with client work, all while working remotely because of COVID-19. On top of this, the acquisition just happened to occur at the peak of the conversations regarding the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. This triggered high emotions and a sense of responsibility upon citizens and companies to educate themselves, speak out, and join the movement. For E3S, this slowed the progress of the acquisition, and everyone turned to the CEO to seek guidance.
He made it very clear that it was not an appropriate time to be broadcasting the company’s success during a period of such mourning, and found it an important step to put aside the company’s direct responsibilities in order to put time and energy towards addressing the current events at hand. He wrote up an internal message intended to communicate the company’s unwavering support for all employees, and the company’s true commitment to diversity and inclusion. Of course, he used words much more eloquent than my own to convey this. It took awareness, humility, and flexibility for the CEO to make the decision to set aside his and his company’s own milestones and delegate the necessary tasks in order to address the more important big picture. I helped in this manner by researching what other Government Contracting companies were saying on different platforms; if their CEO had put out a message, if they were addressing that June is Pride Month besides the current events, or if they were donating to any charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. I attended many meetings discussing how to word the message if we decided to post one, whether or not to post one, and the risks and benefits that came with being one of the first in the Government Contracting field to do so. Messages coming from people highly involved from the government at this time would probably not come across very well even if we took the side of the oppressed. I assisted in coming up with the message and working to collect input from employees throughout the company. E3/Sentinel Federal Solutions is one of the most diverse companies in the Government Contracting field, therefore the CEO as a leader felt it very important that the focus was more on our own employees than putting something out for the rest of the world to judge and comment on. I felt my contributions were valuable in these discussions due to my knowledge about the dos and don’ts of social media in these times, especially regarding topics as sensitive as this one. It was a very interesting experience in my first week having to learn about the company and the details about my projects, then all of a sudden having to drop everything and pivot to a more time-sensitive, pressing matter. It was very interesting watching the shift in resources from the integration efforts to marketing and communications; it was a very quick, important, and necessary movement made across departments.