#BlackLivesMatter. That’s why Edquity is making anti-racism a company value.
It’s impossible for any decent human being not to feel rage in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and on behalf of the countless Black lives that have been taken by racism and police violence. Police violence and institutional racism against Black communities is a feature, not a bug of this country. For 400 years, white supremacy has wreaked physical and economic violence on the Black community, and we cannot waste another moment being silent or without taking resolute action to upend the structures that have perpetuated this violence.
Racial equity has always been at the heart of who we are at Edquity. As a company, we administer emergency cash grants to improve the graduation prospects of college students, many of whom are battling issues like homelessness, food insecurity, and the astronomical costs of child care. All of these issues disproportionately impact Black students, who must work to overcome policies, grounded in centuries of racist ideology, that have made it nearly financially impossible for Black students to graduate from college.
And as we saw with the students who were violently tased by police while peacefully protesting this week, Black college students — like all Black people across America — additionally must overcome these obstacles while in fear of being assaulted or killed by the people who should be keeping them safe.
Black lives matter.
We want to make the following clear to our supporters, college partners, and most importantly, the students we serve every single day:
- We reject police violence, especially in Black and brown communities, where police disproportionately discriminate against, incarcerate and harm innocent people.
- We vow to dismantle white supremacy — the root of police violence, and many other terrors that have plagued Black Americans since 1619, including mass incarceration and systemic poverty.
- We stand in solidarity with protestors who are risking their lives to fill streets across all 50 states, and demand that police officers who use force unnecessarily are held accountable for their violent acts.
At the same time, Edquity acknowledges that we need to do more than strive for equity to dismantle white supremacy and the racist institutions that have devalued Black lives. In an industry where Black people are underrepresented in executive leadership positions by 82% and only 1% of venture funding goes to Black founders, for us to speak out against structural racism as a tech company would be disingenuous at best without concrete commitments to action steps for how we ourselves will fight to change the status quo — as well as look in the mirror and be the change we wish to see.
Over the past few days, the Edquity team has come together to turn our outrage into action, and have identified how we will fight against both police violence and systemic racism.
As our first action, Edquity will be formalizing the incorporation of anti-racism into our broader corporate mandate. The aim is to ensure that all of our internal and external practices are oriented with the explicit goal of combating racism.
Here are some of the steps Edquity will take to achieve this in practice:
- Make “Anti-Racism” a stated value and part of our corporate mission. Understanding that few if any tech companies scrutinize how their work impacts Black communities either internally or externally, we will explicitly bring anti-racism into our formal mission.
- Donate to organizations combating police violence. We are committing $10,000 to organizations that focus on advocacy and activism related to combating police violence, and we will contribute up to another $5,000 in matching grants for any contributions our team members make. As we grow, so will our annualized contributions.
- Roll out a series of racial representation and inclusion practices that include commitments to how we hire, leadership composition, and compensation practices. We will audit and, if necessary, reform our hiring, leadership composition, and compensation practices and work with external partners to ensure our practices meet best-in-class standards for avoiding bias in hiring, ensuring Black representation in both our board and executive leadership positions, and avoiding discrimination in compensation. We will strive to ensure that our workforce, leadership team, and board consist of, at a minimum, a percentage of Black team members that mirrors the national population.
- Educate ourselves on an ongoing basis. We will work with external experts to incorporate anti-racist literature, education, and trainings into our onboarding and ongoing professional development and create ongoing space for dialogue on racial justice issues.
- Create Product OKRs related to anti-racism. As a tech company, we need to be mindful of how our technology is impacting Black and brown communities and avoid automating inequality, and we will set performance outcomes related to our product that orient and measure this impact. If we were hurting Black students, even if we were helping others, we would be doing it wrong, and would be failing in our mandate.
- Openly advocate for policies that would target the economic impacts of racism, particularly in higher education. We commit to publicly supporting policies that would specifically upend racist structures and the economic violence of racism, such as public student loan forgiveness, free college, universal child care, and reparations.
This is our pledge to concrete action steps to try to combat racism in both our internal and external work.
Over the next 90 days, our team at Edquity will be working hard to be thoughtful and deliberate in how we establish the most appropriate measures for turning these action steps into reality. This will include reading, self-learning, and internal dialogue, but more importantly, listening and consulting with leaders and activists who’ve dedicated their lives to solving these issues. Ultimately, we will be releasing a summary of our formalized anti-racism practices on September 15, 2020.
This is just a start, and there’s a long way to go. But we stand with the Black community, and the Edquity family is committed to fighting racism every day.