Standing with the black community

Leif Abraham
Jun 2, 2020 · 4 min read

This letter is authored by Public.com’s co-CEOs.

As human beings, each of us occupies different roles in our daily lives, many simultaneously. We’re founders, employees, mothers, fathers, daughters, friends, activists, and generally, people who have opinions about the type of world we want to live in.

What we and millions of people around the world have now seen, on film, before our very eyes was the killing of George Floyd, a man who did not deserve to have his life stolen from him in such an evil moment. The vivid nature of the footage was exacerbated by the fact that it was just one event in a string of many, extending over months and decades. We simply cannot look away or remain silent in the face of such unjust behavior.

At Public, our mission is to make the stock market a more inclusive place for all investors, no matter which circles they run in. We fundamentally believe that a more diverse community creates an enriching environment for people where they can freely share ideas and learn from others. In a world that has become increasingly polarized, as a team we find hope in seeing people come together from all walks of life — race, gender, sexual orientation, political background, etc. — to have respectful and constructive conversations about the companies they believe in.

The community we serve is at the heart of what we’re building at Public, so we want to be very clear: We stand unequivocally on the side of justice and in support of the black members of our community, and across the country, who are once again feeling unnecessary pain caused by a system that continues to fail them.

Believing that people should be treated equally regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else is not a political stance to take. These are the guiding principles that America was supposed to be founded on. Yet, simply stating the obvious is not enough. Especially as we are aware of our unique privilege as two white males.

One of our core principles at Public is constructive candor: calling it how we see it to solve problems. As a startup in the fintech space, we exist within two of the most stereotypically homogenous industries there are. Our current reality is that we are a predominantly white company with minimal black representation in our teams and no black representation on our leadership team. In the world of public companies, there are only four black Fortune 500 CEOs. These are facts that need to be stated plainly so that they can be confronted directly.

With the facts laid bare, the only way forward is to acknowledge the problem, where we fit in the problem, and what we’re going to do to help fix it. These are big questions that will not be unpacked in a couple of days, but the steps toward addressing them must happen swiftly.

Here’s what we’re doing right now to do our part to move from this devastating period in this country’s history to a better place.

  • Public and our co-CEOs have made donations to Color of Change and Public will be matching all donations to organizations of our employee’s choosing. So far, members of our team have donated to organizations like ACLU Minnesota, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Campaign Zero.
  • We have revised our community guidelines to strengthen our commitment to respectful discourse and reinforce our zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hate speech and other language that runs counter to our mission of building an inclusive community of investors.
  • We are working on establishing hiring practices that help ensure we’re are not falling victim to unconscious bias. We do this by learning from organizations serving the black community and making the founders commitment.
  • We will be launching a new Theme in the app that spotlights companies with racially diverse leadership teams in order to make it easier for our community members to discover companies that align with these values.
  • We’ve created an internal committee with the charge of creating tangible plans for progressing toward our diversity goals both within our community and in our workforce and holding ourselves accountable to our commitments.

This is just a start. We know there is more work to be done and we are willing to work with everyone and anyone to do our part. We pride ourselves in being a company that is always listening to our community and we hope this is the beginning of an extended conversation that leads to tangible impact. If you have ideas, feedback, or suggestions, please reach out to founders@public.com.

Stay safe,
Jannick & Leif
Co-CEOs

Public Stories