October 8, 2020
Change is hard. The social habits that have helped create unsafe and untenable conditions for Black Lives in the United States are ingrained at the deepest levels of daily life, and have gone unchecked for far too long. That’s a hard statement to confront, because what is familiar is part of the problem, and we know we have a role in that. We know we need to become comfortable addressing what is real over what seems easy.
This is the work. And it’s exhausting. And challenging. But it has to be done. We know there is respite when we work together.
Lasting impact will not happen overnight—it has to be chosen and built every day. But racism is unequivocal; we’re either re-wiring our understanding and actions around it or we are upholding the status quo. As a culture, the temptation to glaze over, avoid, or sweep under is what we must overcome. We can still be constructive, considered, and intentional, but those words take on new meaning and accountability now.
While we strive for grace, we know beauty and strength are found in diversity, in healing what is ruptured, and creating wholeness where there have been fractures—no matter how ungraceful it may feel. We are optimistic because we believe change is possible in our lifetime, and that with incremental steps we can create momentum.
"We will celebrate Black lives and Black culture to the same degree that we provide focus and care on correcting this problem."
First and foremost, we are starting at home within our virtual office walls. To our families, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers, clients, and future clients: Black Lives Matter. We know we are at the start of a new, evolving opportunity—one that involves seeking new habits of inclusivity that empower a diverse set of people within the Black community and beyond.
We will celebrate Black lives and Black culture to the same degree that we provide focus and care on correcting this problem.
We're also reflecting on the makeup of our own team; how and why we look the way we do, and what message that sends both internally and externally.
At our core, we are builders — architects, designers, and engineers building businesses, brands, and digital products that make a lasting impact. We seek to translate that same ethos and focus to building the future differently through our core product offering, led by a team that brings a variety of perspectives. We are also committed to offering personal growth opportunities to people who are and have been marginalized within the current system in an effort to broaden a more equal playing field.
We have identified three key areas for improvement and change, across three timelines (immediate (1-6 months), mid-term (6 months to 2 years), and long-term (2+ years).
1. YML Hiring, Employee Development & Diversity Awareness
- Increase and maintain Black representation in talent and across our organization from 4.5% to 10% respectively (immediate to mid-term). After an array of recent hires, we are now at 6%.
- Invest in professional development, up-skill opportunities and mentorship for all employees (immediate and ongoing).
- Continue to provide support and resources pertaining to well-being and mental health awareness (immediate and ongoing)
- Mandatory employee and leadership-specific training, unconscious bias training for all employees (immediate). Progress: Weekly 2 hour sessions are in progress and expected to wrap up this week on October 9th.
- Monthly listening and education sessions conducted by our people team on topics of race, racial justice, and D&I (immediate and ongoing). Progress: Hosting a discussion on DE&I in Design and how we can impact diversity through the work that we do.
- Education and dialogue opportunities: Unlearning racism reading and discussion group (immediate and ongoing) Progress: We just wrapped up “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. We are kicking off a new book this week called "We Were Eight Years in Power" by Ta Nehisi Coates. We sourced our new books by partnering with a Black woman-owned bookstore in the Bay Area. You can support Debra and Ashay By The Bay or your local Black-owned bookstore instead of getting it on Amazon.
- Host leaders from the Black community to come and speak with our teams on the topics of leadership and D&I (immediate and ongoing). Progress: Dr. Kenneth Harris to speak on the topic of "The History of Institutionalized Racism". Dr. Harris is a celebrated Black Historian and Head of the National Business League.
- Re-affirm a zero tolerance policy for any discriminatory behavior (immediate and ongoing).
2. Business & Community Partnerships
- Seek client and business partnerships with a mutual goal of impacting change (immediate to long-term)
- Partner with a predominantly Black non-profit organization for our social impact efforts, using our strengths in the digital space to amplify their brand and voice. (immediate and ongoing)
- Include ongoing education and celebration of Black Life in America through YML content and messaging. And we’ve already begun across our social channels. (Immediate and ongoing)
- Seek to integrate technology solutions designed to eliminate bias (mid-term to long-term)
3. Service & Empowerment
- Partner with predominantly Black non-profit organization with opportunities for mentorship and internships of Black students (immediate and ongoing). We have already donated to Black Girls Code and Color of Change, and are seeking deeper partnerships with these organizations, and others.
We hope you will join us in this effort, as partners, supporters, and people who share the same desire for a better world. Here’s to change.