Huckletree Stands Behind Black Lives Matter

BY Gabriela HershamJune 2, 2020

Dear friends, 

Over the past week, we’ve been made more aware than ever of the ongoing and deep-seated unequal treatment towards the Black community. Our friends in the Black community have been made to experience huge suffering, pain and fear caused by acts of violence and loss of life due to one thing and one thing only: the colour of their skin. Our friends, and friends we have not yet met, are hurting. 

Last night, I was staring at the words ‘Braver Together’- words that form such a critical part of our mission and that underpin our values. To me, these words mean that we recognise the different values that each and every one of our personal stories bring. It means that we embrace and welcome everyone and that a diverse, representative community is the only community we want to be part of, or to have a hand in building. It also means that we need to stand up to the things that are uncomfortable and invisible – to break them in order to rebuild something better.

On paper, we run spaces for people to come together and work. You may read this and think it’s not our place to have a point of view.  But when I think of all the thousands of people who come through our hubs each day (or right now, virtually), the freedom of ideas exchanged, the connections and friendships made, and the progress we are trying to collectively build in various industries, I believe we cannot sit on our hands. Because if we turn our eye to grave injustices that impact members of our community, then what sort of community are we? What great innovative impact will we have on the world if not everyone has the chance to be invited into the room, to have a seat at the table or even afforded the opportunity to realise what they’re made of? And what message would we be sending to our people, to our kids?

As such, I want to state that Huckletree stands fully behind the Black Lives Matter movement. 

We have a zero-tolerance policy on racism and discrimination within our team or our community. We recognise the importance of building inclusive spaces and that psychological safety is as important as physical safety. If you feel under threat in any way, our spaces can be a refuge and our teams will be trained to know how to support you. Our doors will be open to those who need us, whether members or not. 

We are striving to build as diverse a team as possible, and whilst we aren’t yet perfect, I’m certainly proud of our efforts and the values that we embed into our recruitment process. This year 47% of our team have gone through Diversity and Inclusion programmes because we believe that we can all, always, do better in tearing down biases, celebrating diversity and being a truly inclusive workplace. More to do, more to come. 

Lastly, through the efforts of our Alpha accelerator programme (which is only available to founders from diverse backgrounds and is 100% pro-bono) and our Fairer Funding campaign (which aims to embed equality for all founders in their attempts at raising capital), we’re actively striving to build more representation and inclusivity into the wider startup ecosystem. We’re also working towards building a truly diverse and representative ambassador community, and I’m so proud of the wonderful group of ambassadors we’ve welcomed into our fold to date. 

This work can’t slow down, if anything it needs to speed up. 

All this said, we’re equally conscious that these actions on their own are not enough, and so today we are reinforcing our commitment to the Black community to further use our community to promote diversity, equality and inclusion. These past few months have sadly reminded us that we need to be more hyper-aware and more proactive about the threats that are invisible, nuanced and swept under the carpet – not just those that are most visible.

Finally, to our members, ambassadors, entrepreneurs and friends in the Black community: we don’t just see you. We celebrate you, and we advocate for you. And we will continue to strive to do better by you. 

Gaby Hersham 
Huckletree CEO and Co-Founder
On behalf of Huckletree Co-Founders 

Founders: please find below a list of actions that you can take to ensure that your business truly supports the Black Lives Matter movement, as suggested by our friend Deborah Okenla (CEO of YSYS).

People

  • Send an email to your team and advisory board with an overview of what has happened over the past few weeks and where your company stands with the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Schedule 1:1 meetings with all members of your team (particularly those who are black) and check on their mental health and wellbeing, provide adequate care and support where necessary. 
  • (Kwanda, a collection pot for black communities is raising a fund to to cover the costs of therapy for black individuals – you can donate here)
  • If you are hiring during this period, actively post your open roles on black jobs board such as: BYP, POCIT and YSYS.
  • Create a learning and development plan for your team, which involves education on anti-racism. This can include, workshops, courses, training and online events. 
  • A great list of anti-racism resources for white people and parents can be found here

Contribute

  • Highlight activities members of your team can get involved in to show their support of Black Lives Matter, this can range from volunteering with black community groups to signing petitions.

Policies

  • Put together or update your Anti-discrimination and Code of Ethics policy. You can find templates here and here.

Brand

  • Share on social media where you stand with #BlackLivesMatter. Follow the example of:
    • Morgan DeBaun, Co-founders and CEO of Blavity post
    • Kike Oniwinde, Founder and CEO of BYP post
    • Sophia Amoruso, Founder of Girl Boss post
    • Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO of Glossier post
    • Stewart Butterfield, Co-founder and CEO of Slack post
  • Update your social media with the #BlackLivesMatter twitter banners and artwork, you can find some here.

AUTHOR

Gabriela Hersham

Founder and CEO