A word from a CEO #62

by Basilis Kanonidis

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We won’t be silent

If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

– Desmond Tutu 

Hi all –

As you might know, this newsletter is based on the weekly email I send to the Drift team. I use it both to talk about what’s on my mind and what I’m thinking about when it comes to our team, our company and our future. My hope is that they inspire and inform.

But this week I struggled with what to write. Because I wanted and needed to use this email to talk about racism and the pain, frustration, grief and hopelessness that I and likely many of you are feeling. And I wasn’t sure what message I wanted to share.

What I did know is that I needed to speak.

There are two things I’ve said over and over again to my team: Drift wants to be the new face of corporate America, and this ain’t normal.

I was asked on Friday if being Latinx comes into play as CEO. I said yes, every day. Because I went over 10 years without ever working with another Latinx person or even knowing of one who worked in the same industry as me. Not a single one.

Elias, my co-founder, and I want to change that. We want to be the role models we didn’t have. That’s why, personally and as a company, we’ve chosen to support school-aged underrepresented minorities. Because the only way we’re going to make change in the world is to go all the way back and show people what paths are possible.

But being the new face of corporate America also means that we speak up when we see injustice.

I usually use the phrase “this ain’t normal” to talk about amazing things we’ve accomplished at Drift. It means something different right now. Because it shouldn’t be normal in 2020 America for Black men and women to fear that by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they could be an Ahmaud Arbery, a Breonna Taylor or a George Floyd. It shouldn’t be normal. We need to all work to create a new normal.

So what can we do?

  • We can commit not just to fostering a community of diversity, inclusion and respect – but demanding one.
  • We can educate ourselves about the history of racism in America by reading books like Freedom Is A Constant StruggleBeloved, and Between The World And Me. This document also has additional articles, movies, podcasts and book recommendations.
  • We can act by donating to causes like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Advancement Project, and Color of Change. We can also use this time to call or write to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey or Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and sign petitions at Change.org, Color of Change or text “FLOYD” to 55156. This article also has additional ideas of what we can all do for racial justice.
  • Lastly, this doesn’t end this week. We’ll continue to have an open dialogue internally and externally about how we can help support the Black community.

I promise you, we won’t be silent.

What else can we do to help create a new normal?

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