What We’re Doing to Support Black Lives Matter at Coconut Software

What We’re Doing to Support Black Lives Matter at Coconut Software

The Black Lives Matter movement is picking up speed and gathering momentum – it is bringing to the forefront the systemic racism that has been wilfully ignored within our social and legal justice systems. 

It’s a topic that we shy away from as Canadians: we often try to hide behind a veil of “niceness” that doesn’t accurately reflect our current state, not to mention our brutal history. We’ve seen and heard about horrible and violent acts of aggression against Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of colour carried out and built into the foundations of this country. We often fail to own up to it. 

 

Coconut’s Manifesto

We don’t say “I can’t” because it’s hard.

We say “yes” because it’s an opportunity to explore and innovate.

We don’t make excuses.

Together, as a team, we get it done and do it right.

These are the steps we’ve already taken to uncover unconscious bias within Coconut and promote ongoing antiracism initiatives:

  • Proactive outreach to the POC community to encourage feedback on how we can do better
  • Administer a People of Colour panel to better understand their stories and what actions we can take as allies
  • Lending library of antiracism books and learning resources for all Coconut team members to access

These are the steps we’ve started to take and will continue to grow into the future:

  • Banning the terms “whitelist” and “blacklist”, pivoting to “Allow list” and “Deny list” – immediately
  • Antiracism workshop facilitated by POC-led organization and include discussions around First Nations – slated for end of September: company wide workshop and a deeper dive for Coconut’s leadership team
  • Ongoing review of the marketing imagery we use to ensure it’s inclusive – ongoing
  • Priority to hiring a diverse workforce – ongoing with a view to create a formal Diversity and Inclusion program for recruitment and onboarding
  • Engage with all team members to ensure we are creating a supportive and inclusive community of all races and cultures – ongoing
  • Additional initiatives to support POC team members as we identify other ways to grow and improve – ongoing
 

What We’re Doing Moving Forward

Coconut Software is about People, Passion, and Performance. People are first for a reason, and we can’t condone the ongoing overt and systemic racism that all people of colour endure. As a company, we are especially reminded of this section of our manifesto recently and of our role in being active allies:

 

Creating Conversations

The biggest hurdle to change also happens to be the simplest – talking openly about racism. Honest conversation is the only way to question our own ideologies, assumptions, actions, and even passive thoughts – to own up to our own racism and have tough conversations with ourselves. So that’s what we decided to do at Coconut.

We are fortunate to have an open and empathetic team that understands the value of conversations. The Coconut team held an Antiracism Panel/Q&A to help us understand the day to day struggles that our Black colleagues face and how the non-POC team members can help impact positive change as allies.

We hear a lot about inexcusable acts of violence by authority figures toward people of colour. Those acts should not be ignored. The fact that so many people are rallying against this in their communities speaks volumes – our normal is not nearly enough.

 

What We’ve Done So Far

At Coconut we are encouraging a culture of allyship: a lifelong process that takes a lot of listening, work, and ongoing reflection. It’s an evolving process with no end state. An ally acknowledges the limits of their knowledge about other people’s experiences but doesn’t use that as a reason not to think or act; they do not remain silent but instead confront racist aggressions and microagressions while also seeking to help dismantle institutional discrimination as they encounter it. Ultimately, the role of an ally is to live in a way that challenges systemic oppression. 

This may happen at the personal risk of experiencing some discrimination ourselves, but the importance of this experience and highlighting this oppression is key to impacting change. Importantly, being an ally entails building relationships with people of colour to gain an understanding of the struggle and to challenge non-POC individuals in their thinking about race. No one expects allies to have it all figured out – but deep commitment and non-complacency is absolutely necessary.

 

Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about allyship and would like to better understand how you can impact change, here are some fantastic resources compiled by the Coconut team to get you started. Remember: we’re all in this together.

 

Online Resources

 

Books

 

Films & Videos

 

Podcasts

 

Instagram & Twitter Accounts