By Mark Pytlik, CEO
Stink Studios is a predominantly white company that operates in a predominantly white industry, but the shameful truth is that we have not done nearly enough to change either of those facts.
It’s not enough to stop at hiring thoughtful, progressive-minded people with good intentions. Our entire organization, from the top down, needs to be fundamentally bought into a more equitable vision of the future, and it needs to be prepared to do the difficult work to make that vision a reality.
In the past, we have ignored actionable recommendations and calls to change from our Black and Brown employees. We have ignored actionable recommendations and calls to change from our white employees. We have allowed the myth that there’s a lack of available Black talent to influence some recruitment conversations. We have traded on the excellence of Black culture without paying anything back to the Black experience. And we have done so under a veneer of well-intentioned allyship that, in the absence of real and full-throated commitment across the entirety of our leadership team, has only served as a smokescreen to meaningful progress. We would like to apologize to those employees and to the Black community for those mistakes. We must do better.
The Black Lives Matter movement and the attendant conversations around racial inequality are a referendum on the moral clarity of business leaders everywhere. We are all accountable to a better and more equal future. But for that future to become our present, we have work to do, and that work cannot take the form of a few cursory gestures. It has to take the form of meaningful actions delivered with commitment and resolve over a sustained period of time.
That work starts with these pledges:
TO THE INDUSTRY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
Change can only happen with accountability and transparency, which is why we have decided to answer the call of Six Hundred & Rising’s Commit to Change initiative to make our US diversity data public. That data, as per the initiative’s guidelines, is as follows:
• We pledge to increase our Black representation at the Leadership levels (Director and above) from 0% to 12% and to increase our Black representation in staff from 8% to 14% by June 18th, 2021.
• We also pledge to make our US diversity data public every June 18th from now on.
TO OUR STAFF, GROWTH AND ENABLEMENT
• We have committed to providing bias training to all senior management and HR;
• We have committed to providing anti-racism workshops/training to our wider staff;
• We have made Juneteenth a holiday for our US staff;
• We have invited staff to work flexible hours in order to attend any Black Lives Matter or adjacent protests;
• All US staff have received a stipend which they can use to expense books about Black history, the Black experience, and anti-racism. In lieu of book purchases, staff also have the option to donate the stipend to a charity of their choice;
• We have also provided staff with reading lists (both long- and short-form) as well as resources for civic actions to take, places to donate, ways to diversify their social media feeds and local businesses to frequent. We have also made all documents editable and shareable and have encouraged staff to add to these knowledge bases.
• ERGs can be an additional venue for driving cultural change and diversity within a company, we have encouraged staff to form ERGs, and will mandate that any ERG has executive sponsorship;
TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY, CONTRIBUTION AND OUTREACH
• We will extend our student outreach to partner with a more diverse set of schools;
• We will partner with one organization to develop a fellowship/mentorship program for young Black talent;
• We are introducing a rolling donation matching scheme to all US staff. We have also donated to US bail funds in all 50 states, Black Girls Code, Black & Pink, Black Voters Matter, Campaign Zero, National Urban League, The Okra Project, and Scope of Work.
• Finally, we have also reached out to a handful of organizations dedicated to racial justice and racial equity to donate our time and resources on a pro-bono or heavily discounted basis.
Right now, many companies in our industry and beyond are making statements of belief and commitments to change. These have been met with a huge, complex variety of emotion, including cynicism and criticism. The cynicism is evidence-based; we have failed to keep these promises before. The criticism is necessary; we have made mistakes and need to be held accountable by our community.
We have already shared most of the things in this statement internally to our US staff. We’re making it public now as a way of etching in stone the intention of our actions and because we want to be held accountable for the commitments we are making out loud.
Stink Studios should be a more equitable workplace that works towards a more equitable world or Stink Studios should not exist.
Thank you for reading this far. Defund the police.