We founded Viget in 1999 based on well-intentioned, but flawed ideas about how to cultivate the strongest possible team of people on a mission to build a better digital world for everyone. Without clearly understanding the sea of systemic racism in which we all swim, we naively thought strong diversity would happen naturally over time. It hasn’t, because we haven’t done enough of the work necessary. Now, we will.
We are committed to creating a more equitable, diverse, and ultimately more successful company. While we’ve had an internal diversity and inclusion initiative for years and have made some progress, we must do more. We will be proactively anti-racist and more intentionally inclusive.
Stating publicly our firm support for the Black Lives Matter movement and our opposition to racial injustice with urgency was easy. Making an immediate financial contribution to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was simple. Doing the lasting work that will bring about real change is more difficult, and we will do that work. We’ve spent the past few weeks listening, learning, sharing, and discussing our past, present, and future. It’s helped us create a shared vision for the change we seek in our business, our industry, and the communities where we live and work.
We recognize that collecting and sharing data regarding the makeup of our team is an important part of our commitment to change. For the past two years we have collected and reported internally on our diversity data at our annual all-hands meeting, covering over a dozen demographic data points including race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and more.
In May 2020, 20% of our full-time staff identified themselves as multi-racial or non-white and just 2.7% as Black or African American. We will work to increase our non-white staff to 25% and double our percentage of Black team members by the spring of 2021, with continued increases in subsequent years. We will report our progress annually.
We will engage with a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) expert to provide anti-racism education and unconscious bias training and further advise us on how to evolve to ensure lasting change. With their help, we will establish a long-term DEI working group within Viget to help guide our progress in the months and years ahead. We will also expand our internal DEI training for everyone at Viget to improve our interviewing, onboarding, and performance review processes.
We will proactively expand our communication and connection with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) peers in our industry. We will learn from their work and publicly recognize their contributions. We will increase our recruiting outreach, as well, making more clear the value we place on diversity at Viget.
We will do more to welcome new BIPOC professionals into our industry via our summer internship and bi-annual apprenticeship programs. In addition to expanded outreach to Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), we will partner with coding bootcamps, community college programs, and industry groups. Our intention is to help create access to information and experiences, and, through long-term relationships, provide mutual benefit to our staff and industry newcomers.
In addition to the two paid community service days we’ve provided our team members annually since our founding, we will offer additional paid time off for specific days of service, activism, and reflection, as we did this year on Juneteenth. Further, we will always prioritize the mental health of our staff and encourage time for rest and recovery. Moving forward, we will do better to understand that mega-threat events – like police brutality against Black people – disproportionately impact Black employees, and we will respond with a more proactive, explicit expression of support.
We will provide a minimum of 2,000 hours of pro bono services by the end of the year to nonprofits working to combat structural racism in the U.S. We hope these meaningful projects will become lasting partnerships.
Especially in the cities where we have offices, we will more consistently support small businesses owned by BIPOC entrepreneurs. We will buy from them, promote them, and use our voices to advocate for them among local chambers of commerce and economic development offices. We’ll also do more to elevate the work and talent of our BIPOC peers in our industry throughout the country.
Our country, our industry, and our communities must achieve a more equitable future. We’re committed to leading by example. As with every major evolution we’ve gone through in our company’s history, it’s only possible if we do it together. On this topic I can speak for all of us at Viget, we’re committed to this progress.
This content was originally published here.