Following the tragic death of George Floyd, like many people and organizations, we’ve been reflecting on systemic racism and injustice around the world and what part we can play as individuals and as a company in addressing these issues.
We hope that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is one that leads to lasting, sustainable improvements in equality and isn’t temporary or easily forgotten. Although sharing messages of support on social media and changing logos contribute towards raising awareness on societal issues and express solidarity, what happens when the conversation on social media dies down? It’s crucial that individuals and organizations don’t fall into the trap of performative activism and that the actions we take aren’t fleeting or surface-level.
Therefore, we’ve taken some time to discuss the issues internally, to educate ourselves further, develop tangible plans, and to ensure that we have a fully inclusive and non-discriminatory culture, where everyone is treated equally and respectfully. Understandably, some of the ideas we have will take some time to develop and action but there are some that we’re able to introduce immediately and share.
Last week, we had a company-wide discussion on BLM and societal issues and how we as a company want to respond to them. The open dialogue resulted in us collectively deciding on action points we’d like to take as a business (small and big) to promote inclusivity and diversity in our organization. Below are some of them:
We’ve shared resources with each other on BLM including articles, books, movies, and documentaries to educate ourselves.
We’ve created a dedicated Slack channel for discussing societal issues to encourage open dialogue, ensure we remain engaged, share resources, and plan any actions we might wish to take as a business to support societal causes.
An internal diversity committee, made up of employees, has been set up. This team will continually evaluate what we could be doing better in relation to diversity, make recommendations to management and ensure that we’re treating each other respectfully and compassionately as we build techspert.io together.
Although we have an existing diversity and inclusion policy, our Operations Advisor is in the process of updating it. An opportunity will be given to all employees to give feedback so we can refine it collectively and produce something powerful that everyone has contributed towards.
Management and the operations team are creating a policy on volunteering days which will give techspertians the opportunity to contribute towards causes they’re passionate about.
Some other ideas resulting from the discussion which require further exploration and planning are offering internships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, improving our recruitment methods to encourage more women and black and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals to apply for our roles, and working towards a more diverse leadership team and board. In addition, we are implementing further measures to ensure that our AI technology isn’t biased when searching for and identifying experts.
The BLM movement has raised awareness that racism, in conscious and unconscious forms, is still widespread. In the UK, as well as the US, our history includes the exploitation and enslavement of black people and an empire and class system that was fundamentally racist, yet the level of education and clear-eyed reconciliation with this past is lacking in many parts of our society. For example, the UK educational curriculum is largely silent on this period and its immoralities. We believe that moving towards a fairer society requires higher levels of education and awareness on these topics, so we can acknowledge the privileges and repressive stereotypes that still exist, and work to eliminate them, and level the playing field.
Education and knowledge sharing are central to what we do at techspert.io. We use AI to map the knowledge landscape and connect organizations to the people who have the precise insights they need. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that we see learning and education as a big part of the solution. We believe rapid access to knowledge on technical, product, and market challenges drive smarter innovation and in the same way, we believe that greater access to knowledge in society will lead to better, more informed decisions and inclusive movements that build towards a fairer world. Disentangling reliable insights from misinformation, noise, and politically-driven perspectives is more challenging than ever in the current era, but we are proud to be working in this field and to be empowering decision-makers through direct access to the people in the know on any given subject.
The path to racial equality isn’t a short or easy one but by committing to the above changes and improvements, we’re one step closer.
David Holden-White is the co-founder and CEO of techspert.io. David holds a Master’s in Biochemistry from the University of Oxford and a Master’s in Bioscience Enterprise from the University of Cambridge.