5 Changes We’ve Made in Our Journey to Becoming an Anti-Racist Company

becoming-an-anti-racist-company

In the midst of the global and overdue reckoning with anti-Black racism and the police violence that catalyzed the increased focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, we took a hard look at our internal and external practices at Klaviyo. 

After reflecting, we determined that we’ve been remiss in failing to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, generally, and in standing against racism, specifically. Because we, as a company, haven’t been deliberately anti-racist, we have been complicit in perpetuating racism. This was a grave mistake and we take ownership for it.

Over the past month, we started the long journey toward creating a more anti-racist, equitable, and just Klaviyo. Today, we’re sharing five changes we’ve made that are the first steps along the path.

1 | Listening to Black employees

When our initial company statement addressing police violence and our support of the Black Lives Matter movement was released, the leaders involved failed to include Black Klaviyos in the drafting and decision-making processes. The first and most important step senior leadership took over the past month was to acknowledge this initial failure and prioritize listening to our Black employees. 

In mid-June, Klaviyo’s Black employees approached leadership with several ideas—both short- and long-term—on how Klaviyo can become more inclusive and anti-racist. They also highlighted ways Klaviyo has come up short in creating an inclusive environment where Black employees are supported and can flourish. We’ve taken action on several of those ideas in the last 30 days (many of which are included below) and we’ll be holding regular forums between Black employees and senior leadership to ensure accountability for continued progress. 

Outside of putting together this plan, Black Klaviyos have helped in implementation in countless ways and provided important feedback on several other initiatives. We’re deeply grateful for their investment in making our company better, knowing that the emotional labor involved is no small sacrifice.    

2 | Launching new and updating existing policies and language

Second, we’ve launched Klaviyo’s Anti-Discrimination Policy as well as a new Acceptable Use Policy. These two policies bar any company whose core business is centered around racism or discrimination from using our product or services. They also lay out how we’ll handle instances of discriminatory behavior or language among our partners and customers. We will not tolerate racism or other forms of discrimination against any marginalized group within our community, and we will respond with firm disapproval and swift corrective action if and when instances occur.  

We’ve also published an internal anti-discrimination policy that we’ll enforce among Klaviyo employees. We’ll uphold the same expectations with our employees that we do with our customers, partners, and prospects. 

Our final policy change was a Terms of Service update, both for regular maintenance as well as to expand our ability to deny or revoke service based on acts of discrimination. 

Regarding language, we’ve updated our in-product language and Help Center documentation to remove problematic terms, including “Master List” (now “Main List”), “White Listing” (now “Approved List”), “Black Listing” (now “Block List”), and “White Labeling” (now “Dedicated Domain”).

The policy changes were spurred by a group of Latinx and Asian employees who urged the company to take a stance on racism and discrimination within our community. This was another area in which the company had failed historically and the push from this group was the direct catalyst for these policies (although we, as a company, should not have needed it). These Klaviyos also invested significant time and effort in reviewing various drafts, helping leaders think through decision points, and providing feedback, and their work is profoundly appreciated. 

3 | Promoting and offering additional services to Black-owned customer businesses

Across all industries, Black-owned businesses are an essential part of the ecommerce space. 

In an effort to promote Black-owned businesses and support their growth, we took two actions. First, our Marketing team put together this resource to highlight and promote Black-owned businesses, which is in the process of being built out. If you have a business that you’d like to see featured, let us know and stay tuned for more updates.  

Second, our Customer Success team launched a plan to proactively offer additional services to Black-owned Klaviyo customer businesses. These services include marketing strategy audits and proactive recommendations on opportunities and areas for improvement. 

4 | Education and donations

In terms of education, we’ve offered two workshops for employees over the past six weeks: one on anti-racism and one on the history of racism in Boston. This is just the beginning of our education around anti-racism and racial justice, and we’ll be investing in more programs in the future as part of a larger diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.

We’ve also made donations to four organizations working to achieve racial justice: Know Your Rights Camp, The Massachusetts Bail Fund, Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, and Grassroots Law Project. The final three were chosen by Black employees.

5 | Making Juneteenth an annual company holiday

Last but not least, we observed Juneteenth as a company holiday for the first time and we’ll be doing so annually. 

Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and employees were encouraged to observe the day with reflection, self-education, and supporting Black-owned businesses. Kate Walsh, our vice president of Customer Success, explained the context behind the decision in this article

Just the beginning 

In truth, we should not have waited until now to make these changes, but we’re firm in our resolve to rectify our past failures. 

Actions speak louder than words and we’re committed to making serious changes. This is just the beginning. Please know we’ll be communicating openly along the way and expect to be held accountable. 

Thank you for being part of our community.

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