How Can You Make a Difference Right Now?
Reward the organizations working to create a better future
As a white man, I’ve been struggling to find the right way to be involved and supportive of the current protests in the U.S.
It shouldn’t be about my voice right now. I don’t have anything worthwhile to add. I haven’t experienced the pain that so many others live with every day.
I could simply write another career article. I could pretend that the world isn’t burning. But, it seems tone-deaf to ignore what is going on all over the country, and now the world.
Of course, I’m sad, frustrated, and angry by what is happening to people who are exercising their right to protest peacefully.
As a reminder, the First Amendment to the U.S. Consitution states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
My business is about taking control of your career and your destiny. It’s about making choices that are aligned with your beliefs.
I choose to align myself with people who believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to be successful, happy, and safe. Everyone deserves a chance to pursue the life that they dream of living one day.
No one should face discrimination. No one should be denied opportunities simply because of who they are. No one should live in fear.
I do not want to live in a country that rules by fear.
I do not want to do business with companies that discriminate.
No one should work for employers who deny people opportunities because of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious preferences, disabilities, age, etc.
Yet, we know that companies like that do exist. Some of these companies have woven themselves into the fabric of our lives.
Now is the time to make choices that will enable positive change.
Career choices enabling societal change
This week, hundreds of Facebook employees staged a walkout. They are challenging the company’s lack of response to Trump’s posts about the current protests of George Floyd’s murder.
The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, defended his decision and refused to back down. So, employees at Facebook are facing a significant decision.
Do they continue to work for a company that isn’t aligned with their belief systems? Or do they decide that enough is enough?
I mean, come on. This isn’t the first time that Facebook has exhibited a flawed moral compass.
Some people are calling for Facebook employees to quit their jobs immediately. But, that’s easy to say from the outside. We don’t have to pay those employees’ bills or feed their families.
However, those employees can take the time to find a job with a better company that supports the type of future in which they believe. They need to start looking today.
We all can vote with our dollars and our life energy. Do we want to support companies that make us feel distressed? Do we want to work for companies that make us feel like we are selling out?
We can choose to intentionally support individuals who have not been given the same opportunities that we have.
We can support people who deserve a chance to be heard.
We can use our privilege to raise awareness of people and companies who are trying to build a better future for everyone.
My audience isn’t that large, but I feel like I must use the platform that I do have to share the voices of people who should be heard. I’ve created a few lists below, but they are far from comprehensive.
- Ibram X. Kendi — Bestselling author, Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University
- Bernice A. King — CEO, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center
- James Forman Jr. — Author, Professor of Law at Yale Law School.
- Dorothy Roberts — Author, 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology, and the Raymond Pace & Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Erica Joy — Director of Engineering, GitHub.
- Kiese Laymon — Author, the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi.
- Janet Mock — Bestselling author, writer, director, and producer.
- Darnell L. Moore — Author of “No Ashes in the Fire”
- Raquel Willis — Writer, editor, activist, and speaker.
- Brittney Cooper — Author of “Eloquent Rage”
- Jamil Smith — Senior Writer, Rolling Stone
- Arlan Hamilton — Founder of investment firm Backstage Capital, author of IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME.
- Dantley Davis — Head of Design and Research, Twitter.
- Kristy Tillman — Head of Global Experience Design, Slack
- Tina Johnson-Marcel — Senior Director of Design, Capital One
- Randy Ellis — UXD Instructor, General Assembly Chicago
- Antionette Carroll — President/CEO (Founder), Creative Reaction Lab
- Sarah Cooper — Author and comedian
Companies and Organizations
- Campaign Zero supports the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns, and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.
- Diversify Tech connects underrepresented people in tech to jobs, scholarships, events, speaking opportunities, and more. Companies can learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as connect with candidates looking for jobs. Allies can advocate for underrepresented people in tech.
- Blacks Who Design highlights all of the inspiring Black designers in the industry. The goal is to inspire new designers, encourage people to diversify their feeds, and discover amazing individuals to join your team.
- The Anti-Racism Project offers participants ways to examine the crucial and persistent issue of racism. Working with facilitators and a well-designed curriculum, drawn from a variety of sources, participants engage in interactive experiences to examine the realities of institutionalized racism, internalized racism, white privilege, and the myths of immigration to understand how they feed ongoing racial injustice.
- President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper in February 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential.
- Black Enterprise is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans.
- Black Women Talk Tech is a collective of black women tech founders who have a unique understanding of the challenges they face and the advantages they bring in the industry.
- Travel Noire makes international travel more inclusive and representative for explorers of color.
- The Root provides an unflinching analysis of important issues in the black community through insightful and savvy commentary from black thought-leaders.
- Blavity, Inc. is a media tech company, home to the largest network of brands specifically serving black millennials through original content, video, and unique experiences.
- The UMass Center for Employment Equity provides scientifically careful analyses and curated data to the community of citizens, employers, and policymakers concerned with promoting equitable workplaces.
- Product Hunt created a collection of great products built by black makers.
- Black & Brown Founders gives entrepreneurs knowledge, tools, and cutting-edge tactics to launch startups without relying on venture capital.
- Backstage Capital has invested over $7M in more than 130 companies led by underrepresented founders.
- Base10 is a firm with a mission to disrupt the Silicon Valley culture of funding tech-first products by backing startups developing automation technology for industries like agriculture, logistics, waste management, construction, and real estate. They are solving problems for the 99% instead of the 1%.
- January Ventures believes the founders of the next decade will look fundamentally different: more female, more diverse, and more distributed. They back founders based on their tenacity and ambition, not their pedigrees or who they know. Their vision is an equal opportunity tech ecosystem.
- The Bronze Venture Fund exists to bring new technology, capital, imagination and, yes, even some love, to everyday people, everywhere.
- GenNx360 Capital Partners is a private equity firm that focuses its investments in industrial and business services companies in the U.S. middle market.
- Authentic Ventures is a seed and early-stage Venture Capital Firm that believes that a strong, inclusive network of founders, operators, and investors can accomplish great things.
- MaC Venture Capital invests in technology companies that create infectious products that benefit from shifts in cultural trends and behaviors in an increasingly diverse global marketplace.
- Impact America Fund makes early-stage investments in tech-driven businesses that create new frameworks of ownership and opportunity within marginalized communities.
- Harlem Capital Partners is a New York-based early-stage venture capital firm on a mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years.
- Reinventure Capital is a growth-stage equity and debt investment practice focusing on founders of color and women.
If you know more people, companies, and investors that we all should be aware of, please share them in the comments.
Additional useful resources:
- The ZORA Canon is a list of the 100 greatest books ever written by African American women.
- Anti-Racist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi. How to look at the racial inequity all around and look for the racist policies producing it, and the racist ideas veiling it. This list is for people beginning their anti-racist journey.
- The Anti-Racist Resource Guide is a resource for anyone looking to broaden their understanding of anti-racism and get involved to combat racism, specifically as it relates to anti-Blackness and police violence.
Larry Cornett is a Leadership Coach and Career Advisor. He lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, a Great Dane, a rabbit, and a needy cat. He shares advice that helps you become an opportunity magnet for the best things in life! You can also find him on Twitter and Instagram @cornett.