Black Lives Matter
These past few weeks have brought to light what most people of color, Black people in particular, have known and experienced...race matters.
As thousands of Americans take to the streets, I thought it was necessary to present my expectations for the values Air will uphold. The black community has faced racial injustice in America for over 400 years and we must do all we can to make it abundantly clear that black lives matter.
I will continue to listen and read while we determine how best to codify our support for this movement. For us, this process will begin with two steps:
Step 1: Become Informed
We will look to the prophetic words and haunting images of the past for guidance. It is important to recognize these issues are not new. We have come from the open casket of a black boy in 1955 to the last breaths of a black father 65 years later. There is no doubt the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those that took to the streets in the fifties and sixties now find themselves raising their voices to be heard. The issues of today are linked to a centuries-old struggle, and if we are going to be part of positive change we must understand our place in that struggle.
As of today, I am asking all existing and new employees to participate in our reading list. To start, we will read and discuss Dr King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. Inside our walls we are a community. And while we are focused on building a best-in-class software product, that does not mean we will ignore the issues of the world around us. We will hold each other accountable and make a commitment to racial justice and equality.
We will lean into the voices of those asking for support. Air will provide a 50% match for employees who donate to charitable organizations such as community groups, bail-out funds, and education initiatives through the end of the year. We pride ourselves in the diversity of our team and will listen and learn from each perspective in the room.
Step 2: Quantify the Change
Technology was marketed as the great equalizer but our industry has disproportionately excluded the black community and other minority groups. We currently believe inclusivity and mentorship are at the heart of these issues, and as a result, we plan to initially focus on action items related to these two areas.
Community partners will be sought out to sharpen our understanding and internal goals will be communicated and made publicly available by October 1st. We are trying to be thoughtful in developing our course of action and will have rigid benchmarks for diversity and inclusion in our hiring, leadership, and board identification processes.
A mentor this week reminded me of the words of James Baldwin, “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We cannot thank you enough for continuing to march, post, and educate.
On a personal note, I will be the uncle to a little black princess by October 1st.
I will come to her (and you) with a plan — not an empty promise.
With love, Shane Hegde