Since George Floyd’s tragic killing and the wave of protests that have followed, we have been asking ourselves what we can and should do. Here is what we are thinking.
Speak up. While we ordinarily don’t see it as our role, as a VC fund, to opine on social and political issues, in this case we believe silence is unacceptable. This is a moment in time where the topic of racial justice is consuming our national consciousness and debate, and we feel it is important to voice our support for all those calling for reform in the name of racial justice. While recognizing that neither of us is a person of color, and do not have the same standing to speak to the issue, we can and must amplify the voices of those who do have such standing. We need to affirm that it is not just on the victims of racial injustice to speak out — it is on all of us who feel we must aspire to a just society. And perhaps, If our collective voice is loud enough, this can become a watershed moment which leads to real change, not a flashpoint that garners attention for a time, but then fades.
Support good work already underway. Numerous organizations are sustaining the hard work in the trenches working for racial justice. Let’s translate all the anguish and attention over George Floyd’s death into tangible financial support for such organizations. Here at Resolute, we have decided to support the Equal Justice Initiative. The Obama Foundation identifies a number of initiatives and organizations on the front lines of racial justice. They all need support.
Learn. Although it is all too often that we hear reports of racism and racial violence, the reality is that so many of us are woefully uninformed regarding the depth, breadth and history of institutional racism in our country. As white men, we never will be able to truly understand what it is like to live as an African American in our society, and won’t pretend that we can. But we can learn from those who have this experience to deepen our appreciation and understanding of the problem, and use that knowledge both to inform our everyday actions and conversations, as well as to motivate us to engage in meaningful ways.
Influence. We are in a position to influence how cultures and practices get set at the very earliest of days across dozens and dozens of startups. If more of these startups set as a founding principle the aspiration for inclusivity and diversity, they probably have a much greater chance of actually embodying this principle as they evolve into larger organizations. While we know better than to believe there are silver bullets, we are working with experts to develop inclusivity and diversity playbooks to share with our portfolio companies, and will ask our companies to measure specific goals and kpi’s.
Finally, we are heeding President Obama’s urging that “each of us has the power, individually and collectively, to effect change through grassroots organizing, policy advocacy, and civic engagement.”
[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]