Our privilege is our responsibility
Over these last few days, many of us have watched in a state of sadness, horror, anger, and solidarity as we saw the video on George Floyd, the protests, the conflict. And sometimes it’s hard to find the words, to articulate the exact thoughts. But awkward and clunky as it may feel, it’s time to get off the sidelines and make our voices heard.
In the face of systemic injustice arcing towards a specific community, we must have the courage to call it out specifically.
So, yes—Black Lives Matter.
We can’t have the conversation about systemic injustice, without touching on systemic privilege. We speak a lot about white privilege; in addition, privilege comes in different shapes and sizes. I have the privilege of being born to a middle-class family, where further education, or the means for it, was never in question. I have the privilege of being originally from India, where my ethnic heritage isn’t subject to some of the prejudices that others have to endure. In my own way, I have privilege. In our own ways, most of us have privileges.
And with that privilege, comes responsibility. A responsibility to recognize the systemic inequalities that privilege brings. A responsibility to extend our hand to others who weren’t born to the same opportunities. A responsibility to raise our voices, and participate in the dialog.
I am proud to be part of a company where we can state unequivocally, as our CEO Peter McKay did in a communication to our employees, that “there is no place for discrimination, inequality or injustice here at Snyk. Our core company value of Care Deeply means that we care equally, for everyone.” During this turbulent time, it is incumbent upon all leaders to translate our values and best intentions into concrete actions that move the needle forward.
As a company leader, here’s what you could do as an ally:
- Be explicit about your stance on equality, and inclusion. Even where it might be assumed, say it out loud—your people need to hear it.
- Let your employees know they are safe to speak up if they suspect discrimination or bias.
- Foster and nurture honest dialog amongst your employees on equality, bias and inclusion.
- Train all your interviewers and hiring managers on identifying and eliminating unconscious bias.
- Commit publicly to increasing the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
The lessons of the current civil unrest today extend far beyond this moment or instance and apply to all of us globally. We are empowered, and have a moral obligation, to fight against systemic injustice. As individuals and companies, we each have a role to play. If each small company, like Snyk, blazes their path forward, we can strengthen the momentum together, and collectively make change a reality.