Follow up: Cobot’s Message in Response to the Black Lives Matter Protests

Cobot
Sep 03, 2020

This is a follow-up to an article we published in June in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, in which we declared our solidarity with the BLM movement and shared actions we planned to take in support of the movement and our goals.

We want to follow up on the statements we made in the first blog post, review areas of improvement, as well as lay out the actions that have followed after our initial commitments.

Internal conversation and reviewing content and wording of our first statement

The initial blog post/Intercom message was the result of an internal debate of how to take a position as a company. That debate has continued after the post was published.

Thanks to the internal conversation, as well as ongoing listening and learning, we now see ways our initial blog post could be improved, and identified parts we would now write differently — or not at all.

Specifically: There was concern that we centered our company perspective over the perspective of the oppressed. An example of this is mentioning our efforts towards social causes, instead of focusing on the racial injustice addressed by the protests and the BLM movement. Another example is our reference to “the struggle that Black people and other POC face here in Germany” being “less visible than in the US.” We received feedback that it is important to clarify that racism in Germany is not necessarily less visible, but rather it might get different visibility assigned by a white-dominated media environment. This framing is harmful as it minimizes the experiences of those targeted by racism in Germany.

Commitments and actions

In the first blog post, we committed to “listening, learning, and supporting people and organizations fighting for justice and anti-racism.” We also committed to opening our communications channels and amplifying messages from POC in coworking. As a team, we have since collected actions we can take.

Learning and Resource Sharing

We have created resources internally, including a Slack channel for our entire team to discuss topics like “What can Cobot’s anti-racism work look like?” Team members are sharing articles, music, movies, personal experiences and general observations. We have also created a living document for team members to share resources to better educate ourselves on racism and anti-racism.

Developing a Code of Conduct

Reviewing reporting channels and structures was one of the actions we agreed to take to provide explicit structure. Developing a Code of Conduct for the company is now in the works, with the goal to clearly define expected behavior by team members and partners, as well as the process for reporting violations.

Budget for anti-racist reading and education

We clarified in our team manual that the annual learning budget of employees may be used for anti-racist and anti-bias learning media so that we can support and learn from the large amount of work scholars and activists have done and continue to do in this area.

Reviewing our OKRs

We use the OKR framework to make sure our work is guided by goals with trackable outcomes. Team members, including the leadership team, amended their current goals to include education on racism and anti-racist action.

Workshops

Internally, a team member volunteered to prepare a workshop on better receiving and giving hard feedback. Another team member led a workshop on creating an internal Code of Conduct. The leadership team is currently consulting with an outside coach.

One thing we realized is that a big part of the work we can do lies in our own team and company culture. Sharing our learning processes and commitments and rectifying mistakes and failures transparently is part of our development. Communities and workplaces reflect the societies in which they exist. We thank everyone on the team for their continued determination towards making our company culture and statements better at fighting structural racism, anti-Blackness, and discrimination.

Cobot

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