Like many around the world, we've watched in horror as police brutality specifically aimed at Black people has emerged across America. Such a clear and galling display of white supremacy is shocking, but unfortunately nothing new.
Racism has existed for hundreds of years, and has been integral to building the institutions and wealth that means that we, the white majority in the UK, on the whole live comfortable lives unhindered by the colour of our skin or ancestry of our parents.
This is a privilege we take for granted every day. We in the UK are every bit as complicit in building our history and wealth on the work of black and brown bodies as those in America.
From systemically biased police and politics to eyeball-focused algorithms pushing hateful content while tech CEO's hide behind free speech, the systems we design play a huge part in which behaviours and beliefs get amplified and come to form our own opinions.
We also have technology to thank for revealing — through the video of George Flloyd — a hundreds-year-old issue to us in full colour to our pockets.
At some point, the news-cycle will move on and the world will go back to a level of business as usual. But true systemic change requires turning up every day and making lasting changes to how we all operate and treat each other.
In short, Hashtags won't solve this on their own.
To make a change we need to break down the systems of oppression that got us here.
While technology cannot solely eradicate racism, we believe it can — when designed well — avoid amplifying and even play a part in reducing its effects.
At Progression we strongly believe in intentionally designing systems to achieve outcomes.
We are currently a small business, but we intend to be a larger one. As two white male founders, we inevitably have our own biases when it comes to race, gender and more.
What's more, being in the HR space, Progression is a product that can have a disproportionate effect on the careers and lives of the people that use it.
So how do we ensure that we're designing our product to not only pay down bias within ourselves but also guide our customers to be anti-racist while setting up and using it?
This is an obligation on us. To do any less would be to be complicit.
Below are some of the focuses we will have initially and ongoing to build Progression in an anti-racist way.
Our planned anti-racist initiatives:
- Ensure that the content in our current library (110+ skills at time of writing) uses language that is inherently anti-racist, gender-neutral and unbiased. (Immediate)
- Ensure no content uses gendered language (his/her) or a mixture if unavoidable
- Ensure no content implies access to institutions, resources etc. that are less available to POC and women for example.
- Ensure no content uses language which implies gendered behaviour
- Write or commission a set of skills specifically aimed at anti-racism advocacy (Immediate)
- Allyship: The ability to be an ally to others
- Anti-bias: The ability to reduce bias in your working environment
- Put systems and processes in place to ensure that any third party content added to our library follows those same stringent rules (Ongoing)
- Moderators approve content against requirements before it goes live
- Clear buttons in the UI and a process for reporting and fixing inappropriate content
- Writing clear content guidelines and a code of conduct for third parties
- Encourage teams writing their own personal content to use better language through UI prompts and writing guides (Ongoing ideas)
- 'Anti-bias check' button which spots basic language and word usage
- Paid service to get a third party check? (% of proceeds go to anti-racism causes)
- Employees can flag problematic content internally
- Ensure that any workflows we introduce around skills assessment and evaluation encourage fairness and inclusivity and don't amplify bias. (Ongoing ideas)
- Avoid ranking humans
- Maintain equal ownership during assessment
- Flag and warn managers who make promotions when others were more qualified
- Survey users to ensure we're doing it right
- Commit to building a diverse team that reflects the societies in which we operate.
We encourage feedback and suggestions for how we can continue to improve. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org