I wanted to take a moment to share where Sapling stands in regards to the attention on racial inequality and injustice that have recently been circulating in the community in recent weeks.
As a white male CEO in San Francisco, I wasn’t initially sure how or if I should make a formal statement. The thought of sharing my opinion around challenges in America felt oddly out of bounds given my Australian origins. In lieu of this, I thought staying silent to make room for those with the “right” to speak might be the best path forward.
When I shared this thought with the team at Sapling, I was met with much needed education on these issues and more learning to do. This opened up a broader dialogue around our own internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices and what role Sapling should play. The more we discussed, the more it became apparent that my initial hesitation had uncovered a broader blindspot.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had broader discussions with our team, hours of research, and many late night discussions with those important to me in my life. I read books like The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias and watched documentaries like 13th and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson on Netflix.
I now realize that silence is not an option.
The turning point for me was learning the role that silence plays in perpetuating societal disparity. Silence has done a lot more to support the side of the oppressor than anything else, and I take responsibility for not fully grasping my role until now.
In the conversations I’ve had so far – there have been many moments of discomfort. Engaging in racially charged conversations, especially as a privileged white male, can be awkward, frustrating, and fear inducing. But it is only in these conversations that we can break the pattern.
That brings me to the ultimate goal of this post: we want to formally commit to keep the dialogue open and use my and Sapling’s voice to continue the fight for DEI. We are pledging to take an actively anti-racist stance against systemic oppression and the violence that stems from it. Black lives matter – and we vow to support and be an ally to this community (and all that suffer from oppression) to the best of our abilities as we move forward.
As a first step, I wanted to share a few things: 1) the resources our team has found helpful so far, 2) the current goals of our DEI committee. I welcome any feedback you have for me or the team on how we can continue these efforts moving forward.
An unwritten Sapling value has always been the idea that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” Learning from our peers is mission critical for success. Here are the resources that have helped us navigate our DEI program updates thus far:
For fellow CEOs
- Taking a stand to become an anti-racist company (15Five)
- Racism: How Should CEOs Respond? (Crunchbase)
- CEO Action for DEI
For your team members
- LifeLabs DEI Playbook - incredible comprehensive guide from LifeLabs Learning on how to create long term change in your organization
- LifeLabs Anti-Racism and Allyship Resources - part of the above doc, their resource hub is FULL of powerful guides for employee, managers, and leadership team members
- Github’s Guide to Allyship - succinct summary of how to become a better ally to marginalized communities
- Anti-racist resouce guide - an evolving working doc from multiple sources highlighting key ways to support anti-racist work
- How HR Can Support Black Employees Right Now - a helpful short list from Lattice on actions you can take this second
Inclusion Audit + DEI Committee Goals
Our DEI committee is based heavily off of the step-by-step suggestions in LifeLab Learning's DEI Playbook. This has been an invaluable resource to our team in finding the best place to start in building a DEI committee and have clear, intentional goals.
As a high level summary: our committee is made up entirely of volunteers and is available for any member of our team to join. The goal of our DEI committee initially is to perform a quarterly Inclusion Audit. In this audit, we examine 5 key areas of Sapling processes:
- Recruiting & Hiring
- Benefits and Work Conditions
- Assessment & Promotion
- Meetings and Social Connections
- Learning & Growth
The goal is to take a deep dive on each section, determining a general priority level for what section needs to be actioned first. As we continue to repeat this process and champion the voices of our peers, we aim to grow, stay informed, and find new ways to best support each and every member of our team.
By formulating our DEI committee, I am grateful that our team has a way for every member to hold myself and others accountable. We cannot let the current momentum towards justice go stale, especially when it’s no longer front page news.
We must urge our team, our peers, and ourselves to commit to being actively anti-racist by creating opportunities for everyone to be their best self, and continuing to focus on education.
Special thanks to Mariah and our DEI committee who always help me learn and were involved in the writing of this post.