In the wake of the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, I’ve spent the last two weeks having a lot of meaningful, and, at times uncomfortable, conversations. I’ve spent the last two weeks listening and learning from our Black employees in ways that truly opened my eyes to everything I wasn’t paying attention to before.
I thought I wasn’t part of the problem. I thought I was educated. But the hard truth is I was and I’m not.
MoxiWorks has always had a zero-tolerance policy for racism and discrimination, but only having a policy is not enough. As I learned the last two weeks, it’s not enough to not be racist, you must be actively anti-racist.
I was also reminded that the Civil Rights Act and I are the same age (56), and that the ACLU celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. That really put things into perspective: how could we have made so little progress in all this time?
As the leader of a company, it’s on me to hold us accountable for how we take these learnings and turn them into action. I believe that education and knowledge are an antidote to ignorance and discrimination, so the first step needs to be ongoing education. But education alone isn’t enough. We need to act. Act to make sure that education is a forever process. Act to right wrongs every time we see them, not just when it’s obvious or convenient. And act to make sure our business practices not only prevent discrimination, but actively encourage equality and diversity in all forms.
I also know that our reaction to the most recent examples of racial injustice can’t just be a one-time big bang for it to truly lead to systemic change. It has to be rolling thunder. We have to work together on this indefinitely to not only make continuous improvement, but to prevent the backsliding that’s caused my needing to write this 56 years after we agreed as a nation that this shouldn’t happen.
This is a time when business leaders need to take action more than ever. I believe that we influence what happens in the daily lives of our employees and communities more than any other institution. Therefore, it’s on us to continually foster diversity. In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s also the right business thing to do. And I’m not just talking about the obvious positive impact on customers. I’ve spent my entire career in tech, almost all of it in Seattle. As a result, I’ve witnessed countless times how diversity of race, gender, background, experience, knowledge, personality type and opinion lead to better decision-making internally.
I’ve always believed in the concept of thinking globally and acting locally. We must act to ensure that we truly make a change this time. What’s right for each individual and each company will vary immensely but doing nothing is almost always worse than doing something. Just start. Act.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re starting our rolling thunder with a few key action items that we plan to continue growing in order to stand with our Black community and champion diversity proactively at MoxiWorks.
We are actively encouraging our employees to self-educate. We’re sending books, online content, and documentary suggestions out to the company. We’ve committed to having diversity experts address our company on an ongoing basis. And we’re providing forums for our Black and other minority employees to give first-hand accounts of their personal experience at MoxiWorks and beyond.
We are committed to a continuous discussion on diversity, racism and discrimination so we are creating space for them to happen. We started company-wide discussions last week and plan to formalize these so that they become a part of our company culture forever. We’re also looking at our recruiting practices and expanding them to source a more diverse pool of candidates, as well as making diversity as a desirable hiring criteria alongside the typical skill, attitude, and experience qualifiers.
We are using our MoxiFund charitable giving vehicle to make contributions to organizations that are working day in and day out to change the systemic racism in our country. We’ve given more than $100,000 to local charities since the inception of the MoxiFund, and will now begin using some of these contributions to combat racism and foster diversity in our communities beyond what we can do ourselves.
The Path Forward
As leaders, as companies, we must commit to not just acting in this moment but continuing to act. We are all in this together, but we must ensure our actions speak even louder than our words to truly make a real change. For me, that change will be part of how I leave the world a better place than how I found it.
I look forward to a future where diversity is a value and an asset. Not just a buzz word in corporate America and our daily lives.
Act. Self-educate. Look at this through a new lens. And listen – just listen – to the experiences of others.
Listening with respect,
York Baur, CEO