Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at PaperCut: Chapter 1
On June 2nd, PaperCut took a stance on Blackout Tuesday.
This simple act was a powerful step for us in solidarity with those suffering under systemic racism. It was also a statement of our commitment to begin creating organizational change from within PaperCut.
We meant it when we said we are committed to doing the hard work — Blackout Tuesday was only the beginning for us as an organization.
The ripple effect
Eight Portland PaperCutters gathered together as a Diversity Action working group – now called DEIBs – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
Like for so many organizations, bearing witness to the police brutality and killing of George Floyd was the tipping point that pulled us together.
Unable to look away from the systemic racism in our country, we also looked around at our work home.
This event propelled each of us to perform a self-check on our PaperCut culture and state of our own internal systems.
We started with ourselves – looking within to confront our own racism, biases, privilege and blind spots.
We acknowledged the white supremacy in our group as the first step in our efforts to dismantle it. We created an intentional space to engage in dialogue around this rising wave.
This will be ongoing work.
We came up with our WHY
While we are a very caring and welcoming organization that has made some strides in recruiting for greater diversity, our group acknowledges that we still have work to do in this area.
We seek to…
- Become an abundantly inclusive and anti-racist company where diverse teams thrive
- Create an environment where every individual feels a sense of belonging and that their voice is valued
- Attract a diverse set of key talent into our organization
Here are some of the action steps we’ve taken since Blackout Tuesday
- Created an open Slack channel for discussion & resources around DEIBs issues
- Encouraged our leadership to make Juneteenth an official paid holiday at PaperCut Americas this year and every year moving forward
- Started work to remove violent language in code, product, our manual and KB articles
- For example, removing “slave” language where we can use alternate terms
- Raised $2,890 for 15 organizations uplifting Black lives and those protesting police violence
- These donations were encouraged with an offering from our member, Arturo Almaguer, to sing Jolene for an audience of those who contributed $75 or more!
- Another DEIBs member, Julie Gefroh, presented NVC (Non-Violent or Compassionate Communication) to the PDX office to educate us on creative ways to connect with each other and offer a framework for talking about these challenging issues
- Presented all of this at our fortnightly Global meeting so our Australia & UK teams were made aware of our actions
Being a member of the DEIBs team is already one of the more rewarding work roles I’ve had over my career. In my life outside the office, I’ve often taken an active role in advocating for different social justice causes but never spoken up at work. I was taught to avoid ‘controversial’ discussions in the workplace and not rock the boat.
But Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be a controversial statement. The dignity and rights of human beings are not controversial.
When the world took to the streets, it was all I could focus on and my daily work seemed meaningless. Being able to share in that experience with my colleagues and combine our energies into affecting change within this work community that we all love gave me – gave all of us – a sense of purpose and valuable action.
Our group comes at this from diverse backgrounds and life experiences but we’ve jumped right into difficult conversations with open hearts and minds.
So what’s next?
- Well, this blog post is one of our nexts! We wanted to share with our community what we’re doing behind the scenes and why this is so important to us as PaperCutters
- We launched an RFP to find a DEIBs consultant to help guide us in our efforts
- We’re starting to work alongside our leadership to set PaperCut-wide DEIBs goals and hold us all accountable
The protests in support of Black lives and ending police violence continue right outside our doors here in Portland. As they do, we are activating change within PaperCut.
Our hope is that learning about our journey will encourage others.
One of the first things we did was explore various resources to learn more.
Books we found enlightening include:
- How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Another, less formal, way to actively learn is to just simply follow Black thought leaders on social media. We recommend Rachel Cargle and Ijeoma Oluo.
Lastly, for organizational change, we’ve been quite influenced by the work of Dr. Tiffany Jana.
We’ll inform you of our progress as we continue our journey forward.