KeeleyOne Spotlight: Ricky Fowler
By: Claire Sauer
Keeley Companies’ most recently launched cultural pillar, KeeleyOne, is focused on Diversity & Inclusion. This pillar would not exist without the hard work and dedication of our incredible committee members. Each month we will be spotlighting one of these passionate Keeley’ns about what Diversity & Inclusion means to them. Ricky Fowler, Project Manager for the L. Keeley Paving Group, saw an opportunity for change within the Keeley Companies and is an integral part of bringing KeeleyOne’s vision to life.
Ricky decided to get involved with KeeleyOne to help evoke and encourage change. During his upbringing in the south, he witness and experienced adversity firsthand. Many things currently happening today are the same things that happened 20 years ago. While more awareness is happening around the world, Ricky knew it was time to stand up at Keeley. He spoke with April Lopinot, Vice President of Human Resources, about some things he was experiencing and two days later he found out that conversations surrounding the launch of KeeleyOne were already in place behind the scenes. This gave him hope and excitement for the future of Diversity & Inclusion at Keeley Companies. When asked what Diversity & Inclusion meant to him, Ricky said:
“Everyone deserves a fair chance no matter their background, race, or education level. Every individual, if they have the skillset and the dedication, should be given that chance.”
Starting a new cultural pillar from the ground up presents many rewards and challenges. While Ricky has learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes work, he has also learned a lot about himself. Throughout his life, Ricky has a tendency to suppress his feelings, and he has often hidden a lot of the things he has experienced. However, this process, and KeeleyOne’s promising future, have given him the opportunity to learn to open up and speak freely about what is bothering him without the fear of judgment or repercussion.
The biggest challenge that Ricky has seen is one that he knew the committee would eventually face – starting the difficult conversations with the people that they know, or are going to be the ones to have the hardest conversations with. However, change is already beginning to happen. One example of this change that Ricky has seen firsthand is many team members are beginning to embrace the need for change in order to help their team members and Keeley Companies grow.
Diversity & Inclusion is important no matter the company or the industry. Ricky has been a part of this process from the very beginning, so if asked to give a piece of advice to someone wanting to start a Diversity & Inclusion initiative at their company, he would say:
“Be ready to ruffle some feathers. Be ready to open the eyes of people that you never thought you could connect with. Be ready to find out some of your colleagues’ biggest fears. Be ready to get some backlash and have those hard conversations with those that are opposed to the change the company, and the world, are striving to make.”
KeeleyOne has an incredibly bright future. Ricky is excited to continue to watch KeeleyOne become the change he wants to see within Keeley Companies and within our communities across the country. Keeley’ns across the nation are encouraged to get involved with KeeleyOne and, according to Ricky, the best way to get involved is to:
“Get engaged. Be willing to express your feelings, share your opinions, and share your stories. A lot of us keep things bottled up and don’t know if we can or should speak up. KeeleyOne is that safe space where people can feel free and comfortable to make their voice heard.”
As we embark on this journey together, Ricky doesn’t want people to be afraid. Conversation is key when trying to resolve issues or bring about change. All we have to do is talk about it.
For those wanting to continue educating themselves on Diversity & Inclusion, Ricky recommends the following books and videos:
“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
“Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People” by Anthony Greenwald & Mahzarin Banaji
“Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White America” by Ijeoma Oluo
TED Talk: Janet Stovall - How to Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
The Oprah Winfrey Show: Jane Elliott’s “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Anti-Racism Exercise
The Daily Social Distancing Show: Ijeoma Oluo – The Pyramid Scheme of White Supremacy
Click here to learn more about KeeleyOne.