On June 4, 2020, we published a set of Black Lives Matter commitments in response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent activism within our workforce. This was a traumatic period for many of our employees and for many Americans, unfolding within the context of a global pandemic and economic crisis.
As a white male CEO, I have always believed that diversity within our company (and more broadly) was important and have come to appreciate more recently the pain and struggle that Black Americans face every day of their lives. I’ve spent time over the past 90 days trying to better understand this, and to make lasting changes to Justworks that counteract the structural racism that pervades society.
I am concerned that as George Floyd’s tragic murder recedes into the past, so too will the sudden attention towards racial injustice as well as the steps that we need to take to identify, confront and eradicate it.
It has taken centuries for structural racism to take its present form, and it will take decades to get rid of it. We will have to raise generations of children and grandchildren who can’t wrap their heads around why this racism existed, the same way that we look back at past generations and can’t imagine why people accepted certain behaviors and practices that are unthinkable today.
What we are doing today, though, is making the changes to our foundation that set into motion this change over a longer period. For each of the twelve commitments that we made in June, here is how we are doing and what we have learned so far:
Training our people to actively combat racism. More than just “bias training,” we need to actively undo racism. Everyone at Justworks will complete the initial phase of this training in the next 30 days, with ongoing reinforcement thereafter.
How it’s going:
We rolled out an anti-racism training curriculum, which goes through May 2021.
The entire company has already gone through diversity training and bias training, both of which are available on the Justworks platform.
We held optional, facilitated “Coming Together” sessions where employees could share more about their experience in a productive way.
Other parts of the curriculum include anti-racism workshops for managers as well as Seed & Spark’s Film Forward: Racial Justice program.
Matching employee donations 2:1 to Black Lives Matter, Know Your Rights Camp, and Campaign Zero, or another related cause of the employee’s choice.
Waiving 12 months of Justworks admin fees for newly formed Black-owned businesses so that we can help them get started. Offering a discount to all Black-owned businesses no matter when they were started.
Fostering a culture of belonging, acceptance and love. Maintaining an open dialog with our employees and helping them feel safe in sharing their experiences. Our leadership team is making themselves available to all of our employees to listen 1:1. Experimenting with other forms of shared space so that employees feel safe and heard no matter how they prefer to communicate. Staying connected to what everyone on our team is experiencing and acting on that feedback. Our first survey will be in the next 15 days.
Creating space for our own employees to get together, grieve, and heal. Space means the venue, time, and priority; other things will have to wait.
Making our leadership ranks and company as a whole more diverse and inclusive. Reporting internally, and on a weekly basis, the diversity of our recruiting pipeline. Partnering with other organizations to ensure that we have a diverse pipeline for every role. Taking a close look at all of our hiring practices and training our hiring managers to eliminate bias. Ensuring that Black employees have a solid career path at Justworks.
How it’s going:
We’re working to increase our applicant diversity data tracking.
We’re exploring leadership and development programs that help offset some of the structural challenges that BIPOC face.
We’re examining our compensation and promotion processes to identify and eliminate bias.
We created and launched mandatory training for all interviewers, which includes how to eliminate bias in an interview.
Encouraging and expecting our employees to take time off to recharge, protest, or for any other reason. Closing Justworks on Friday, June 5, 2020, so that our entire team can do just that.
Refusing to do business with people who harass, intimidate, bully or abuse our people. Encouraging our people to speak up about misconduct and not tolerating retaliation.
Expanding the scope and influence of our DEI team, and growing the team. Posting the first job online in the next week.
Compensating our Employee Resource Group (ERG) leads for the additional work that they are putting into our company, effective June 1st.
Incorporating this action plan, and other actions that we identify, into our goal-setting and accountability (OKR) frameworks.
Supporting and amplifying our Black-owned business customers.
In addition to these commitments which we initially outlined, we are continuing to turn over stones and learn what else we can do to level the playing field and create a place where all of our employees feel like they belong. In order to build a company for the ages, we must first find ourselves on the right side of history.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.