Charting a Course For More Inclusive and Equitable Societies
by Mike Kubzansky, CEO, Omidyar Network
What would it look like to reimagine what is possible in the systems, ideas, and structures that govern our lives? Omidyar Network is excited to explore this question in the next iteration of our organization.
We’re thrilled to announce our long-overdue new website and refreshed logo that we hope better reflects who we are and what we do — a “social change venture” — the intersection of philanthropy, advocacy, investment, and innovation.
This refresh is the result of an evolution over the past several years to redefine our new strategy, approach, and areas of focus. From March 2018 through the end of January, six programs spun out from Omidyar Network to become independent entities (Spero, Luminate, Flourish, Omidyar Network India, PlaceFund, and Imaginable Futures). They all continue their excellent and important work. In parallel, we set three new focus areas for ourselves — specifically the economy, technology, and a call for positive pluralism — and we changed our approach within these areas to confront the ideas, rules, and power imbalances that shape and bound the challenges we face today as a society.
Despite these changes, we retain our early DNA and emphasis on flexibility. We recognize that the most effective and efficient way to make a difference is to support and mobilize people and organizations to forge new power, test emergent ideas, and pursue just causes, so we remain agnostic about the method of support we employ. That’s also why we focus on forging connections — because distributed networks are the most resilient — and social change is a team sport.
We are looking at new ways to partner with others so that together we can address the structural causes beneath each issue. Together, we look to chart a course for more inclusive societies capable of delivering broad-based prosperity, well-being, dignity, and connection.
With this as our North Star, we are focused on:
- THE ECONOMY: We believe a reimagined capitalism must place individual, community, and societal well-being at its center, and invite everyone to meaningfully participate in our economy, democracy, and society. In this new capitalism, people who have been historically and systematically marginalized by structural racism, colonialism, and indifference will have the opportunity, power, and potential for upward mobility and the self-determination that comes from economic prosperity and a vibrant democracy.
Earlier this week, we released our perspective about how American capitalism should work. You can read more here about our call to recenter the economy so it is more equitable and inclusive.
- TECHNOLOGY: Omidyar Network aspires to see a global tech ecosystem that truly satisfies its promise to improve everyone’s lives. Our imperative is to ward off the novel challenges and fast-moving threats and help ensure technology is safe, fair, and compassionate. We must create conditions and construct the rules, guardrails, and norms that enable entrepreneurs to innovate, compete, and channel tech’s evolution toward the collective good.
In this spirit, Omidyar Network recently released Ethical Explorer, a package of tools to help navigate the future impact of today’s technology, and in the lead up to the big tech hearings on the Hill and in support of state-led investigations, we recently detailed the anti-competitive practices of Facebook and Google and the harms they have caused in a series of policy papers.
- PLURALISM: We have long believed in the positive power of connection and recognize humanity’s essential interdependence. Connection and trust are the bedrock of a heathy, pluralistic society. To get there, we must engage in critical thought and seek common understanding, trust, and respect among individuals, communities, and institutions, even — and especially — with whom we may disagree. Diversity must be affirmatively welcomed so we can actively build understanding, acceptance, and equality across our many lines of difference, for instance, racial, religious, political, cultural, or national.
George Floyd’s brutal murder crystalized the importance of this focus area for us. We reflected on our efforts to dismantle racism and made a commitment to action, internally and externally. As part of this, we contributed $500,000 to organizations fighting for racial justice. We continue to delve deeper into our Pluralism work, and our diversity, equity, and inclusion council, alongside all staff, strives to embed equity and anti-racism into all of our work.
As part of this brand refresh, we wanted to make sure it also expresses our values. One of those core values is transparency. That’s why our website now includes a list of our grantees and investees, along with how much we have invested (including our investments in 501c4 organizations, which is not required by law), so that you can see with whom we partner. As part of philanthropy’s obligation to be more transparent about its goals and activities, we also publish our points of view that guide our activities. On the site, you will also find the more nascent ideas we are exploring, including our attention to future sensing and scenario planning so that we can uncover new perspectives, consider what’s ahead and how to prepare for it.
Our website will continue to evolve, and we hope you will visit it often to see how we are working in partnership to build more inclusive and equitable societies in which individuals have the social, economic, and democratic power to thrive.
CEO, Omidyar Network