Why I’m choosing Lyft

Business has a unique and vital opportunity to help solve our biggest challenges. It starts with improving local communities

Jeremy Bird
Nov 19 · 3 min read

I’ve spent my career fighting to change the world for the better. It’s what drew me to spend a decade organizing communities across the country to support former President Barack Obama; empowering working families to stand up for better wages and affordable health care while working in the labor movement; and studying theology at Harvard Divinity School during my formative years. I have always believed in the power of people to make a meaningful impact on the way we all work, vote, and live our lives.

That’s why I’m honored to announce today that I am taking on the role of Vice President of Public Engagement at Lyft. Together with the company’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer; former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx; and the broader Lyft team, we will work with local communities and policymakers as we continue to grow one of the world’s most innovative and effective transportation networks.

It’s not an obvious choice to everyone. Conventional wisdom sets workers’ interests at odds with corporate interests. And community advocacy isn’t typically paired with the concerns of business leaders or shareholders. What’s happening at Lyft turns all of these preconceived notions upside-down, demonstrating that it’s possible for a public company to be invested in the public good.

WORK THAT BENEFITS WORKERS

Changing the world for the better means running toward the most important challenges. One of the most timely opportunities Lyft has right now is maximizing the opportunities and benefits available for workers. More than 1% of the U.S. workforce drove for Lyft last year, giving individuals from every walk of life greater control of their time and livelihoods — including my brother, who worked as a rideshare driver to help earn extra money to pay for his wedding.

And there’s a lot still to do, which is most exciting to me. When 1 out of every 100 working people in the U.S. are signing on as Lyft drivers, it means we have the opportunity to scale wage and benefit standards on an unprecedented level, without taking away what drivers have said time and again matters most to them: the freedom to work whenever they want, and for as long or as little as they want.

In California, for the better part of the past year, the Lyft team has spent hundreds of hours with drivers designing modern worker protections — and making sure they have a voice at the table with labor leaders and legislators. I’m excited to support this ongoing discussion in the country’s most populous state, which could ultimately serve as a model for the future of work elsewhere.

RIDES THAT BENEFIT COMMUNITIES

At its core, Lyft is committed to delivering equity and access. Transportation is the second-largest cost for working families behind housing, and communities of color are particularly disadvantaged by traditional options. Without reliable access to transportation, the world is limited to a few blocks — I saw this firsthand growing up in a trailer park outside St. Louis.

Today, nearly half of Lyft rides start or end in low-income or transit-underserved communities. This changes everything for people in areas like the south and west sides of Chicago, where it was virtually impossible to get a taxi. Today, ridesharing helps connect local seniors to their community members and patients to medical appointments; bring people safely to their schools and other activities; and so much more.

And while all of this is happening organically, Lyft is pioneering programs to broaden our impact in the most critical moments. Our research points to reliable transportation as a barrier to healthy food and steady employment — that’s why we launched programs like Grocery Access and Jobs Access, to meet those needs in the communities we serve. To me, this represents a novel way to think about public engagement, and I’m excited to continue infusing this approach in our work moving forward.

THE ROAD AHEAD

Simply put, I believe in this company and its commitment to a new kind of socially conscious capitalism. Through 270, I’ve worked with Lyft over the years and gotten to know its leadership and culture. I’m excited to support this team and mission in this next, critical phase of transportation innovation.

Organizers have a saying that we have to “meet people where they are.” When it comes to Lyft, we’re building a company with the kind of reach and social impact our communities can be proud of. And we’re engaging their voices in the process.

I’m looking forward to helping to share these stories in the months and years ahead.

Proud dad; VP, Public Engagement @Lyft; Founder @270Strategies @DoBigThings @BGTX @iVoteFund; @BarackObama National Field Dir; Loving life w @BetsyHoover

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade