A word from a CEO #48

by Basilis Kanonidis

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Celebrating progress

This year at Drift, our team is focused on normalizing conversations around race. We encourage you to do the same. Believe me, I know it’s easier said than done. So here are three ways you can begin having real conversations about race with your team:

1. Talk to your team about how to support Black people.

We created a list of ways for employees to change the way they think about supporting Black people and Black history. First up, “Say Black when you mean black.” Other items on the list are:

  • Capitalize the B in ‘Black people’
  • Talk about Black history and culture with more than just Black people
  • Support as a form of justice, not pity
  • Recognize the intersectionality of Black people that makes their perspectives different e.g. Black women, Black queer and trans people, Black disabled people, and others
  • Go out of your way to learn about Black history and Black leaders
  • Advance issues facing the Black community with a donation. Go to Charity Navigator’s curated list of charities that support Black health, education, rights, and community development
  • And when you see something that you think others would learn from…share it! We took a lot of inspiration for our own list from Michelle Nicole and the Awaken newsletter

2. Discuss race at work.

We recently hosted an event with Smartbear where panelists talked about their own experiences discussing race at work with the goal of fostering positive outcomes like increased empathy.

Elias Torres, our co-founder and CTO, has also started a webinar series and newsletter, American Dream, which features insights from him and other members of the Latinx community.

And, we’ve introduced an employee resource group (ERG) initiative at Drift to foster more honest, important conversations. Some of our ERGs include Inclusion@Drift, Women@Drift, Rainbots@Drift, Cambio@Drift, STEM@Drift, Mental Health@Drift, Parents@Drift and Sustainability@Drift.

How can you facilitate similar conversations in your own workplace?

3. Acknowledge the state of Black people leading organizations.

Only 1% of VC-backed founders and 2.1% of startup executives are Black. This month we’ve recognized Black founders who we admire. Charley MooreKimberly Bryant, and Tristan Walker, for example, changed the game in their industries against these odds. The world is missing out without more Black leaders. Donate to Black and Brown Founders to support innovation.

As we move into March and the rest of the year, think about how you’ll continue these conversations by sharing facts, personal experiences, and create space for employees to have the chance to ask questions about social identity and receive real answers.

Thanks for letting me share this message and this space with you.

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