Over the past few weeks, we have had many inspiring and challenging conversations about how our company can be a force for positive change in the movement for racial justice. While we have an incredible amount of work ahead, I have been energized by the determination and commitment of everyone who has joined this fight and shed light and knowledge on the path in front of us. It is clear that it will take the work of millions to make significant change, and for those who are just embarking on their journey, I thought it might be helpful to share Blueboard’s initial steps.
Our journey began early this month. It had been over a week since the murder of George Floyd. I was angry about how killings of Black people continue to happen -- by other citizens in the case of Ahmaud Arbery and by police officers who are sworn to protect. I was saddened by the immense pain rooted in the Black community that rippled to seemingly every pocket of America. I was also battling with myself - my guilt for not being a better ally, my hope for change, and trying to figure out how I could actually make a difference.
Every time I thought about where to direct my energy, those thoughts would converge to Blueboard. We are a company made up of many young people, and more than half of our team are in their first or second jobs. These people have bright careers ahead of them. I wanted Blueboard to set the bar for what a company can stand for and against, and how a company can be vulnerable enough to call out its shortcomings with the intention to improve. Then when Blueboarders progressed in their careers, moving to other organizations or into leadership roles, they would not only expect this high standard but be empowered to lead and hold others accountable. It became clear that our best leverage was to focus internally, with the goal of educating and inspiring our own team - empowering Blueboarders to spread their learnings to their own communities over time.
On June 3rd, I wrote the below email to our company outlining how we wanted Blueboard to be a part of eradicating racism by starting with ourselves.
A tenet of our mission is to help people challenge their comfort zones. Usually, we refer to our comfort zones in the context of conquering a fear of heights or a solo trip to a foreign place. This tenet takes on new meaning today.
The last few days have pushed Taylor and I past our comfort zones. A comfort of believing we live in a fair and equitable world. A comfort that other people will deal with and solve society’s most challenging issues. A comfort in our own privilege.
Many of us are feeling uncomfortable, powerless, frustrated, and even guilty. Let’s pause, unpack these feelings, and figure out: what are we uncomfortable with, what would we do if we had more power, what is causing our frustration to blister, and what do we feel guilty for not doing? If you are feeling this way, it’s time to reconcile these feelings with action.
At Blueboard we need to take a hard look in the mirror. Right now, our lack of racial diversity is apparent. If we want Blueboard to be a vehicle for change, we need to model it. We believe that building a more diverse company where people feel like they can dance a little different [a Blueboard value] is a journey that doesn’t stop. And we believe that committing to this journey is a hallmark of what a great company looks like. We promise to continue on this journey to build a more diverse and inclusive company and culture by focusing our actions internally on what we need to improve.
- We will invest in educating and training Blueboarders to become better allies for Black people. How can we channel our energy to make a difference given our power, privilege, and access? Allyship can help us set a framework to do this.
- We will revamp our hiring practices and figure out how to improve in finding more diverse talent with the goal of hiring and developing more Black teammates.
- We will continue to create space for people to share their opinions, connect with others, and listen.
Things won’t be perfect in the beginning. This type of work is difficult, but we’ll get better, and we want you to hold us accountable to improve.
We can’t change society alone, but we can do our part to be the change we want to see in the world. The work to increase Black representation at Blueboard and become better allies starts today.
As part of holding myself accountable, I wanted to give an update on the progress we’ve made on our internal initiatives and how we’ve started to branch out our efforts beyond our employees.
We will be partnering with ReadySet, a DEI consultancy to deliver a series of workshops to help educate our employees on DEI practices and Ally Skills training. I’ve been lucky enough to see them in action running workshops at conferences and am excited to have them work with our broader team.
During the first five years of Blueboard, we met most of our employees through other teammates or AngelList, which is a good place to start but not the best place to grow if you’re looking to build a diverse team. Though hiring has slowed this year, we’re already broadening our recruiting techniques to connect with more candidates from diverse backgrounds and with diverse experiences. We are reviewing our interview processes to become aware of bias and we are improving our job descriptions to be more inclusive and welcoming to underrepresented minorities. We will continue building skills and updating our tools in this area as Blueboard continues to grow, with the clear intention to increase diversity on our team.
Donate to End Hate experience menu offering
On our platform, our first action was to create an offering where reward recipients could donate their reward value to organizations doing the difficult anti-racist work to fight for racial justice. People have started to select this offering to help support these inspiring organizations and campaigns (we've curated a list of suggested charities to offer recipients at the bottom of this article, and welcome your additional recommendations). This first step inspired us to think about other ways we might make our platform more accessible, diverse, and inclusive.
Spotlighting Black-owned experience providers
For our Curation team, we’re starting to work on how we can improve the diversity of our providers and highlight them in our experience menu and employee app. This touches a bit of everything - our product, curation process, data structure, and user experience. We’re working on building the foundation to make this a continuing part of the Blueboard experience and to better highlight the people and stories behind these amazing businesses.
A changed mindset alters how you focus your energy, shifts how you look at problems, and brings new meaning to what you do. A changed mindset can be the root anchored in the ground that drives behavior change and pushes one towards a goal.
We’re at the beginning of changing our mindset. We’re focused on educating ourselves to be better allies, to look at our current diversity not just as a problem but an opportunity, and we’re seeing how we fit into the bigger picture of dismantling systemic racism. Even in these early stages, we have become a more conscious organization. Black Lives Matter, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with you in building an anti-racist future together. I am excited and impatient for us to continue down this path to become a better, more diverse, more inclusive company.
Let’s stay connected, to the people and issues we care about.
P.S. for continued conversation, I’m here to talk on LinkedIn. And for those interested to add to our growing list of charities featured in our Donate to End Hate menu offering (see below), please send your recommendations to our Head of Curation, Michelle.
Here is our growing list of charities suggested to recipients when redeeming their reward for Donate to End Hate. We welcome your continued recommendations:
- Black Lives Matter
- Campaign Zero
- Black Visions Collective
- Reclaim the Block
- Equal Justice Initiative
- The Bail Project
- National Bail Fund Network
- Black Earth Farms Food Delivery Fund
- Know Your Rights Camp
- Communities United Against Police Brutality
- National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
- Movement for Black Lives
- Black Youth Project 100
- The Marsha P Johnson Institute
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Louisville Community Bail Fund
- Run with Maud Fundraiser