Each week since our company has started working from home, Ceros CEO Simon Berg has shared some thoughts with the company over email. This week, he shared some views surrounding the issues of racial inequality. Here is an updated version of the message he sent to Ceros employees on Monday.
I tried and tried this morning to find the right way to start this note given the events of the weekend, and after about an hour of typing, deleting, and typing again, all I could get to was: Black lives matter.
To say that I was shaken by everything that’s happened would be a giant understatement. A country divided by politics, ravaged by a global pandemic, in the midst of an economic crisis, with over 40 million Americans unemployed, is now facing nationwide civil unrest as a result of another horrific display of police brutality—broadcast for all the world to see.
As I type this, I again find myself pausing to attempt to calibrate on the magnitude of all that we are being asked to deal with right now.
I also found myself questioning my place when speaking up on the topic of race and police brutality. After all, I am not a mayor, governor, or politician of any type. Hell, I’m not even a US citizen. So why then am I speaking up?
Was it because an African American man was choked to death, on camera, by an officer of the law in America, in 2020? No. As incredibly horrifying as that incident is, it’s sadly just the tip of the iceberg of systemic racism and suffering that I, as a white man, have the privilege of not having to confront it in my daily life.
Not everyone has that same luxury. In fact, it was this video from 2017 that helped shine a light on that privilege. It features African American families coaching their young children on how to behave around the police, as though it were a matter of traffic safety. Deeply moving.
So, why then is this personal realization making its way into my weekly note?
Because, as the leader of the organization, I strive to lead by example, and to make whatever changes I can to impact the problem and chip away at that iceberg. Sure, we could have posted a graphic on our social media account, but instead we decided to look inward to see what steps we could take now to make positive change.
Here are the five steps we came up with:
- Courageously acknowledge that, despite good intentions and actual effort, Ceros has failed to effectively create as racially diverse a workforce as we could.
- Work out why that lack of diversity is so persistent, and find a way to do better in the future, as our hiring opens up again post COVID19. Hold me to that!
- Understand the ways in which myself and others at Ceros can impact things at a grassroots level, by helping those negatively affected by an uneven playing field.
- Actively seek out ideas and thoughts on this initiative from anyone at Ceros who has a constructive opinion.
- Maintain regular communication with the team around the decisions and actions taken on this topic going forward.
- Make a donation of $5,000 to https://blacklivesmatter.com and match any employee donations up to $10,000.
In addition to these actions, we are also expanding the Ceros Gives program to include free access to our software to any organization fighting racial injustice or police brutality.
Finally, I wanted to address the protests taking place across the country. Having never taken part in a protest of any type, I once again feel ill-equipped to comment, but will simply say that it is my belief that the power of the collective voices coming together in peaceful solidarity is an incredibly impactful way to bring about change, second only to your right to vote, something this legal alien is not permitted to do. Don’t waste your vote!