We are hurting. The team at Simulmedia, like most in the nation, has been deeply moved over the past week as we have learned more about the murder of George Floyd, a horrific act that causes so many of us to question a system that continues to not only permit so many of these events to occur, but that leaves so many of them uninvestigated, unprosecuted and unpunished. At its root is systemic racial inequality in this country that extends well beyond policing and law enforcement. This has created an environment of justifiable anger, sorrow and a loss of trust in institutions that many of us grew up giving the benefit of the doubt.
We must help fix this. I am writing this post because we believe in transparency at Simulmedia and we want everyone to know where we stand on this issue and what we are going to do. Developing a company-wide response has been a dominant theme of discussion during internal meetings at the company this week, and was the core topic at our all-hands on Tuesday.
We want to address the underlying conditions that have led to too many of these moments. We want to have a real impact on some of the economic drivers of this inequality. We want to support those raising the visibility of this issue through peaceful protest. We work within two high profile, high impact industries - advertising and technology. Neither of them is very racially diverse, nor is our company. We can make a difference there.
From those discussions, we’ve committed to taking a number of immediate steps with more to follow. Here they are:
1. Acknowledge the racism, injustice and inequality that exists in our country and commit to action. That acknowledgement starts with listening - to our communities, employees, and those who have been advocating for change. Then, we must act. As investor and friend Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures wrote yesterday, this is a time for change. We as a company recognize the problem and the need for us to do our part to address it.
2. Create a forum for discussion. This is a big, hard and emotional issue. With Covid-19 keeping us all at home, we find ourselves lacking the outlets for dialogue that would normally happen at the office, during a commute on a train, or at a restaurant with friends. We are scheduling regular “open discussion” times for folks to talk about this. This will make our actions better and smarter and more effective.
3. Support peaceful protests. I was in our Manhattan office today and watched thousands of protesters march up Park Avenue South. It was peaceful. It was powerful. It was moving. We at Simulmedia will support employees taking time off to participate in peaceful protests.
4. Provide legal aid to protestors. We will provide legal aid as needed to employees who participate in peaceful protests. The company’s leadership will also donate funds to Campaign Zero, a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing police violence.
5. Share information resources. Many employees are in touch with groups, friends and institutions that are committed to helping drive change. We are going to help employees learn more, share more, and uncover more opportunities to actively participate in organizations that are making a difference. Here’s one we admire: The Doe Fund is dedicated to helping break the cycle of homelessness, addiction, and criminal recidivism here in New York City. They offer many ways you can get involved. One of our former marketing interns works there now, and we’re proud to call attention to the important work that she and her colleagues are doing.
6. Commit to making Simulmedia and our industry more diverse. It’s really important that we work harder to recruit and hire talent from a wider array of backgrounds. This isn’t just “the right thing to do,” it’s right for our business. Simulmedia, and our customers’ advertising, will grow stronger by increasing the range and variety of ideas flowing between us. We are immediately creating two paid summer internships that will be made available to black students who attend local colleges in the greater New York City area. We know that it can be very hard for these students to know or access companies and industries like ours. And, with this public health crisis, paid internships have all but disappeared, even for those who are privileged. This will be an on-going commitment.
These are just our first steps here. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, and we are allies in the fight against racism and injustice. We commit to action, both today and going forward, to ensure long lasting change. We not only can make a difference. We know that we must make a difference. Our industry and society depends on it.
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