A Letter from the CEO
These past few weeks have been a challenging, scary and frustrating time, especially for the Black community. With the most recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, we’re navigating the latest tragedies and injustices in a cycle of systemic racism—a social crisis that has been undercover for too long.
As we grapple with issues of inequality in America and abroad, we’re also battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted the Black community. It has further illuminated cracks in corporate America—our inflexible policies and inherent biases that we must begin to reconstruct.
First and foremost, Diligent stands in solidarity with our Black employees, customers, and community members, and we condemn racism in all of its forms. I am ready to act and mobilize; yet, I want to ensure that these efforts are allocated to the areas that will bring real, long-term change throughout our organizations and communities. I believe that the first step is starting from within and understanding where we need to make changes and improve internally.
Last week I shared thoughts with our team that for the sake of transparency I wanted to also share, in condensed form, publicly.
As I mentioned last week, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among many others, and the collective reckoning around systemic racism that exists in the US has challenged and shaken many of us. I’ve spent the last week or so listening a lot and determining what I can do personally and what we can do as an organization to really improve racial diversity and equality internally and externally. Authenticity is something I value greatly, personally and for our organization. I have spoken a lot about diversity over the years but most of my talks have been focused on gender diversity, and I realize that while necessary it is also woefully insufficient.
We are a modern governance company. We must move the needle on diversity at Diligent and I believe we have a platform to positively impact Diversity more broadly in our world – starting at the top, in organizations across the globe. Talk is cheap, I want our company to be about action and impact. Here is how we are tackling this problem both internally and externally:
Internally, how do we become more diverse and inclusive as a team? We know we have work to do on diversity, equity and inclusion internally at Diligent. For example, we must ensure our boardroom and leadership team become significantly more diverse than they are today and are committed to correcting these oversights. We have begun organizing conversations and providing educational resources on racism, equity and inclusion across our global team and are working to create safe spaces and structures for these conversations to continue to happen over the long term. Our SLT is spending Monday in a deep dive on diversity and inclusion as one small step on the road to lasting change. We’ve also pledged to donate $100,000 – along with a personal donation from me and my wife – and match employee donations up to an additional $50,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. We pledge to keep our employees updated and involved in these conversations and welcome their ideas to shape our efforts as we formalize our plans in the coming weeks.
Externally, how do we use our platform to be part of the solution? Systemic racism is a broad problem with many issues to address including police reform, education (early through university), employment and advancement opportunities, and representation at the top. Rather than having a small impact on many things, we tried to take a step back and identify one area where we can focus to really have material lasting impact on diversity and inclusion.
We support a large community of leaders worldwide; over 700,000 board members and C-suite executives rely on Diligent. Given our unique scale and user base, we decided to focus on helping drive racial diversity in the boardroom and C-suite. With more diverse leaders at the top, we believe those leaders will drive change throughout the rest of their organizations. In the next week we will make an announcement on a major new initiative to catalyze change from the top. More to come soon on this.
We have work to do on diversity and inclusion internally at Diligent and are stepping up to play a role in making the boardroom and C-suite significantly more diverse. We commit to keeping you updated on both endeavors and welcome your ideas to shape our efforts. Thank you for your passion and push for action on diversity and inclusion at Diligent. I am accountable and commit to making a difference and I will come back to you all with transparent updates on our progress.
To my Black colleagues, peers, clients and the broader community – with language borrowed (with permission) from one of our Diligent team members – I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand with you.