DICK'S Sporting Goods Huddles up With Meeting of America

Our company guided and participated in a pilot program that seeks to find common ground and build a united future through dialogue.
Apr 15, 2022 9:00 AM ET
Article

Taking the first step is how we eventually rise up. When the opportunity to join Meeting of America (MOA) was presented to DICK'S Sporting Goods in early 2021, we promptly became a pilot partner in the program that brings together a diverse group of industry leaders striving to make a difference through dialogue.

Through a series of three initial meetings, DICK'S teammates helped shape that dialogue as they joined in the nationwide conversations that gradually grew from introductory meetings to discussions on how to better society. The Meeting of America pilot program was part of our company’s continued efforts in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

The MOA’s mission closely aligns with our own DEI strategy that includes Dialogue Circles that provide all teammates – from senior leaders to our frontline teammates – with opportunities to share and listen to vulnerable, honest stories that have the power to change hearts and minds. After holding hundreds of Dialogue Circles within the organization since 2020, the opportunity to pull others into these powerful conversations was a natural move.

“We know that having these conversations can lead to remarkable change,” said DICK’S Senior Director of DEI Paloma DeNardis. “We’re so proud and humbled to be able to take what we have learned and help grow this worthy project to benefit more people and build a larger culture of inclusivity, understanding and togetherness.”

DICK'S committed a $50,000 grant to become one of MOA's first corporate partners and helped with the program design and recruitment of additional member partners that now include Boston Beer, Target, McDonald's, Harley-Davidson and more educational institutions, tech companies and influential organizations.

Pearce Godwin started MOA after a career in politics and public service. In recent years, he noticed increasing “toxic polarization” in America and made it his mission to turn down the heat. For Pearce and his team, it was imperative to broaden the reach of MOA’s message. Engaging established companies with nationwide reach and teammates of diverse backgrounds was a key goal.

"This has been a breakthrough moment these last few months in that our dream of the most influential brands, such as DICK'S Sporting Goods, are leaning into this mission with us," said Pearce. "It really has been a dream come true. I felt for years that the business community raising their voice and their own people solving these problems within their proverbial walls and society at large would be critical to our success."

Our own teammates were among the first to dive into the conversations aimed at achieving the program's three main goals:

  • Connect with each other to see our humanity, rather than differences
  • Commit to building a shared foundation of ideals that binds us together
  • Champion the commitment in our daily lives

For DICK'S teammate Danielle Horton, the reason for joining the conversation was simple: to create a better world for her children to live in. When she was a child, Danielle's parents housed and supported a Vietnamese family that arrived in the United States as refugees. Throughout each meeting, the conversations dug deeper into how our life experiences shape us and made Danielle think about her own experience growing up.

"These interactions, and others in my life, were incredibly crucial in shaping my world view and it challenges my thinking on how I want to raise my children as well," she said. "Those memory snapshots were minimized previously, and the conversations with Meeting of America allowed me to acknowledge how valuable these experiences were."

David Lund, VP of Loss Prevention for DICK’S, saw the program as a way to expand his interest in participating in the Dialogue Circles offered to DICK’S teammates. He enjoyed the structure, participation and deep conversations that allowed an opportunity to truly understand each other.

“I really feel like this is the type of forum for people to get to know one another on a different level,” said David.

DICK’S teammate Karen Holland also joined in the three conversations and echoed that sentiment.

Whether virtual or in person, the opportunity to have these meaningful discussions is a universal way to get to know and understand one another.

"To see that other person, to quite literally see their humanity, is the magic of conversation,” said Pearce. “This is not rocket science. We've experienced it millions of times in our lives. Breaking down that wall of anonymity and distrust and looking each other face-to-face is something we need now more than ever before."

Count Danielle as another believer in the magic of dialogue and how participation in MOA will shape a better and more inclusive future.

"I have great hope that this forum will be a model for how to find commonality with our family, neighbors, and strangers," said Danielle. "We need to talk to each other, we need to find the common ground, but also cherish the differences. It starts with healthy, open conversations."