A CEO’s Pledge to Allyship

We will continually look for meaningful ways to promote radical inclusion, diversity and equality in the tech community and as an employer.
Maria Katris
July 20, 2020
Maria Katris
July 20, 2020

As an American and as a leader in the tech industry, I have felt a deep responsibility to speak up about the role Built In and all citizens have in addressing the racial inequalities that continue to impact our country. The death of George Floyd sparked a reawakening in our society — an overdue national awareness of the deep effects of America’s battle with racism.

As I strive to be a better ally, the most important role I can play is to listen to Black people and non-Black people of color, intently, and then follow their lead. While my words can only do so much, the actions that I can foster as a leader leave me with a great responsibility.  

A Progressive Industry Must Take Progressive Action

The lack of diversity in tech, an industry known for progressive thinking, shows that some thinking can hit a wall. 

Many companies in tech are trying and not quite getting it. Some are making gains. But far more companies have a lot of work to do to make the industry inclusive. 

•   Only a few leading tech giants are willing to disclose their percentage of Black employees. That includes Facebook (3.8%), Microsoft (4.5%) and Salesforce (2.9%)

•   Less than 1% of founders who receive venture funding are Black.

To me, it’s shameful that, in 2020, minorities struggle to fit into corporate and tech culture. Many Black and non-Black employees of color are exhausted by the need to code switch. Many face daily microaggressions, overt and covert. It can’t persist.

Listen, Act, Listen Some More

The solution is multifaceted — but, again, it starts with listening and then taking action.  

As we listen, we may learn things that are difficult for some of us to hear. We must dive headlong into the work of making society and workplaces more supportive for people of color. 

Having these conversations, and listening, means that we can do better. Avoiding them means we never will.   

Built In recently interviewed a host of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leaders to create “A Guide to Racial Equality in the Workplace,” an advice-driven guide for tech companies seeking to be anti-racist.

•  Michelle Y. Bess, DEI Director at Sprout Social, recommends instituting an inclusion survey, which reveals whether employees of color are experiencing a company’s culture differently. If yes, it’s a company’s duty to ask: Why is that and how can we address it? 

•  In the resource guide, leaders from Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit that empowers artists with tech, discuss their enriching experiences during race-based caucuses — meetings in which White and Black employees discuss how their race impacts their work at Fractured Atlas. 

If you’d like to read the full list of recommendations from various experts, download “A Guide to Racial Equality in the Workplace.” 

My Pledge: We Will Do Better 

Still, these conversations are only the beginning. We’re all responsible for standing up, using our voices and platforms. As a content provider, Built In will amplify Black voices and publish insightful resources on social injustice.  

This statement is my pledge that we will focus more time and resources to create an anti-racist culture and to support employees of color. We’re currently working with experts to create a training plan focusing on unconscious bias. And we’re conducting a DEI audit to identify gaps and build a DEI strategy and roadmap. 

Aside from company-wide strategies, our employees live and breathe allyship. They devoted June as a month of action, organizing daily activities to fight racism and practice allyship. As employees manage and lead two new resource groups — a group for BIPOC employees and an LGTBQ+ group — I see my employees’ sheer force of will to be better as a company and world.  

Know that we will continually look for meaningful ways to promote radical inclusion, diversity and equality in the tech community and as an employer.

It’s time to look inward. It’s time to listen and learn. It’s time to take action. There is no change without action. 

We have yet to realize the ideal of anti-racism, radical inclusion and diversity. It’s time.

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