Statement & Action Plan:
When we developed our company culture, the first pillar we established was authenticity. By definition, it means to represent one’s true nature or beliefs and to live in the moment with confidence and conviction while being true to oneself.
With confidence and conviction, we want to clearly state that we do not tolerate racism and discrimination of any form, and we fully support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Shortly after George Floyd’s death, our company came together to reflect and discuss. The honesty and transparency of our team made one thing very clear. While we can sympathize, the majority of our employees cannot empathize.
As a 24 person start-up, we felt it was important to take our employees’ lead on how to communicate our support. The sentiment was unanimous. To make a real impact, we needed to identify real change within ourselves and our organization. We took some time to develop a plan that focuses on changing systemic issues that plague our industry, giving space for learning and new perspectives, and instilling a culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion that becomes a part of our company’s DNA.
Initial Action Steps:
- BLM Participation: Since June 1st, employees have been granted PTO for any participation in protests or demonstrations. Time will not count against allotted time off.
- Company Holidays: Juneteenth and Election Day will be company holidays going forward. Juneteenth is for us to remember the end of slavery in our country and recognize there is still more work to do to end systemic racism. Election Day is for us to have the time to choose the leaders we want to execute change in our country.
- AI Bias: We have invested weeks of development into our product to evaluate AI bias on certain words and phrases. We have enabled our customers with ways to provide their social policy views on-demand, track complaints about discriminatory employees, and identify when racist language is being used in search bias. In our early studies, we were complicit in not expanding our knowledge bases enough to track some of this behavior and enable our AI to detect the racism that exists in our country.
- DEI Education & Plan: Given we are a small company, we do not have a dedicated Chief of Diversity. Instead, we reallocated some of our marketing and staff funds to hire a Diversity, Equality, & Inclusion consultant, Vince Pierson (VSP, Inc.), to help provide employees opportunities for assessment and self-growth around race, culture, and diversity. Additionally, he will help us assess where we can influence systemic change in the technology industry, starting with building our own pipeline to cultivate Black talent.
This plan is not a vision, but already in place. We listened, we asked for help, we planned, and now we are executing. This is only the beginning of how our company will continue to support racial equality and justice. We will strive for a better future where valuing diversity, equality, and inclusion are the norm.
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