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Date: June 3, 2020
Subject line: Committing $200,000 in donations and matching
Hi team,
So much has happened since I sent ...
sharing ideas, actions, tips, mistakes made,11
questions they are pondering, and overall coming together
from a place of n...
•	 Finally, I think making internal and public statements is an important part of holding ourselves
accountable.20
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Why CEOs Should Take a Public Stance: Perspectives from DIBs Leaders

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Part of how we are making some progress within Upwork is that we don’t see racism as a Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging issue. The crisis impacting the Black community is an “everyone” issue. We partner very closely with all team members in the organization to mobilize around racial injustice, and we are seeing our teams embrace the idea that ally is a verb through proactive, anti-racist activity. Nowhere is this more evident than in our CEO, Hayden Brown, who takes a very firm stance against racism, both internally and publicly in this memo. The memo includes annotations from Upwork's Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Erin L. Thomas, PhD, highlighting why it was impactful.

This is part of an ongoing series in which we will share Hayden’s internal communications, along with thoughts from our Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging on what makes these communications impactful for our Black community. Learn more: https://www.upwork.com/resources/black-lives-matter/why-ceos-should-take-a-public-stance-perspectives-from-dibs-leaders/

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Why CEOs Should Take a Public Stance: Perspectives from DIBs Leaders

  1. 1. Date: June 3, 2020 Subject line: Committing $200,000 in donations and matching Hi team, So much has happened since I sent the below email on Thursday: the burgeoning work to seek justice for George Floyd,1 continued protests in the United States and around the world, and escalations in clashes with police across the country that continue to evolve in real time.2 Committing $200,000 to worthy organizations3 In alignment with our values,4 we are contributing to organizations that support the Black community and tackle the systemic issues that lead to5 Black impoverishment, unequal access to opportunity, unfair and violent policing and other social injustice. In the face of this national crisis, we have decided to dedicate $200,000 to worthy organizations supporting racial justice in the United States. After consulting with Upwork’s Black Initiative Network (BIN) leaders6 and the office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging,7 Upwork is taking the following steps today: • Upwork will donate $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help fight racial injustice. • Upwork will match an additional $100,000 in team member8 contributions to organizations supporting racial justice and the Black community. To make this administratively manageable, Upwork’s matching funds will be distributed to the ACLU, Color of Change, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, and the Chicago Community Bond Fund, regardless of where you contributed your own funds. To take advantage of matching funds, please make a donation to any 501(c)(3) organization that works to uplift Black people or combat racism in the U.S. This article9 provides helpful recommendations for organizations to consider. Then, send the receipt to [REDACTED] with “Supporting Black Organizations—Donation Match Request” in the subject line. Please make your donations by July 6, 2020 to ensure we can make a matching donation to help these important organizations as soon as possible. Finding avenues to learn together—and, critically, take action I have been inspired to see the level to which our company is rallying as One Upwork in support of justice and our Black team members.10 I am seeing Upwork team members of all races and backgrounds 1 Unequivocal and bold statement. 2 Takes care not to say “riots” or condemn how people are advocating for change. 3 Investing in the external Black community—and the word “worthy” appeals to alignment with our moral values. 4 Grounds action in shared company values. 5 Demonstrates the understanding that these are more than “events” and that the downstream consequences permeate our society. 6 Engaged Black leaders in the decision-making process—to the extent that they wanted to be. 7 Demonstrates that decisions weren’t pushed from the top, but informed by multiple voices. 8 Engages all team members in solidarity. 9 Offers resources to help team members educate themselves. 10 This is not a Black issue—it is everyone’s issue.
  2. 2. sharing ideas, actions, tips, mistakes made,11 questions they are pondering, and overall coming together from a place of not just empathy but of motivation for action and being agents of change. Let’s keep this up. 12 Whether volunteering your time, donating money to critical causes, joining protests in your communities, investing in listening and learning, participating in our #bin-allies Slack channel, seeking out Black voices in literature, or broadening the voices you listen to on social media or in the news—these are all positive steps that each of us can invest in to build momentum for change.13 Taking a public stance I want you to know that we have started and will continue to make public comments and contribute to dialogue in support of Black Lives Matter, racial equality in the U.S. and around the world, human rights and supporting the end of violent policing practices against Blacks.14 We are also sharing information publicly about the steps we are taking internally as a company in support of our community and these beliefs.15 Erin L. Thomas has already been an inspiring and influential voice publicly in helping individuals and companies grapple with their responsibilities and actions at this time, and I want to reiterate how proud I am to have her on our team, offering needed guidance to us at Upwork and so many others externally through these difficult times. Thank you, Erin, for being an essential leader on our journey and in our society. You may wonder why we are making these public statements.16 You also may wonder if we should be speaking publicly on these issues, since we have acknowledged that we have work to do, and have not yet reached our goals and aspirations around diversity and inclusion, particularly of Black talent at Upwork. There are a few reasons why I think it’s important to be vocal about our stance and about the steps we are taking, both internally and externally: • I believe silence can be read as lack of caring or, worse, complicity.17 Our voices matter. Now is a time for us to raise a chorus of voices together, not stand by as spectators. Silence—including workplaces that pretend these issues don’t exist or ‘don’t happen here’—has been a critical contributor to why these problems have continued to go unaddressed. We have to break the silence at both a personal and corporate level; we have to share our intolerance for the status quo.18 • While we at Upwork are not perfect and have not yet achieved our goals around Black representation in our company and in leadership,19 nor around Black retention, I know our commitment is real and I can be proud of the steps we’re taking and the journey we are on. As with other topics, such as remote work, we want to help other organizations and individuals move forward where we can, even while acknowledging that we ourselves are not perfect and still can learn. I don’t think that these two realities—that we can be a beacon and help others, and that we still must do real work ourselves to improve—are incompatible. 11 Normalizes that we are not perfect. 12 Motivates team members to maintain their fervor. 13 Provides a menu of options for folks to ally inward. 14 This isn’t performative. We aren’t backing down from what’s right and who we want to be. 15 We’re not precious or proprietary about our work. Now’s the time to showcase our efforts and learnings with others. 16 Transparent articulation of the company’s public position. 17 Correct. 18 We can’t keep quiet. 19 Reiterates acknowledgment that there is more work to do within Upwork.
  3. 3. • Finally, I think making internal and public statements is an important part of holding ourselves accountable.20 By stating our beliefs, goals and the actions we commit to, we create a forum for you and the world to hold us accountable to these values and these actions. We absolutely should be held accountable for making real progress in addressing our internal challenges with Black representation and success. Let me close by reiterating Upwork’s, the Leadership Team’s, and my personal support for our Black team members, our commitment to real and sustaining changes in U.S. justice for Blacks and policing practices towards Blacks, and our commitment to ensuring each of our Upwork team members is safe, healthy and connected at this time.21 As always, post on my page here or reach out to me on email/Slack with any questions or comments.22 Hayden A final note: Prior to and through the COVID-19 crisis and the current crisis, we have maintained a very disciplined approach to spending and are committed to sustaining our rock-solid fiscal position to forestall putting employee or freelancer jobs at risk, even should the economic climate continue to worsen. I am pleased to report that we continue to perform well as a business and you should all feel secure from layoffs or furloughs (i.e., don’t worry about losing your job!). We are in a strong financial position to be able to make the contributions I outlined today and I absolutely believe it is our responsibility to do so.23 20 No turning back now! 21 Closes by immediately returning to the community most in crisis, and building a bridge to all team members 22 Makes herself available to continue the conversation. 23 We found the $$$. Don’t @ us. It’s worth it.

Part of how we are making some progress within Upwork is that we don’t see racism as a Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging issue. The crisis impacting the Black community is an “everyone” issue. We partner very closely with all team members in the organization to mobilize around racial injustice, and we are seeing our teams embrace the idea that ally is a verb through proactive, anti-racist activity. Nowhere is this more evident than in our CEO, Hayden Brown, who takes a very firm stance against racism, both internally and publicly in this memo. The memo includes annotations from Upwork's Head of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Erin L. Thomas, PhD, highlighting why it was impactful. This is part of an ongoing series in which we will share Hayden’s internal communications, along with thoughts from our Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging on what makes these communications impactful for our Black community. Learn more: https://www.upwork.com/resources/black-lives-matter/why-ceos-should-take-a-public-stance-perspectives-from-dibs-leaders/

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