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Good Intentions Are Not Enough. We Must Reset for a Fairer Future

4 minute read
Pao is a tech investor and the CEO of Project Include

We need a reset. We know we have racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and additional forms of bias and discrimination built into our workplaces, our schools, our medical care and all our institutions. We know it is systemic and harmful.

In the tech industry, its products are harming our brains, our self-worth, our values, our pandemic response, our children and our society. Social media platforms are enabling and amplifying white supremacy and other forms of hate for profit. Workers are struggling to make a living wage while CEO billionaires work them harder, pay them less, create poor working environments and hoard ill-gotten profits. In politics, we are witnessing attacks on voting rights, abortion and housing; in schools and universities, teaching racism and science are under threat. In hospitals, Black, Latinx and Southeast Asian workers hold the front line while their communities get less access and worse care.

We need to channel our energy for change, for transformation, for equity and for fairness.

Today we aren’t doing enough. Good intentions are not going to do it. Neither will social media posts or reading books. Advocating within our existing processes isn’t working. The greatest changes have come from workers organizing, individuals suing or speaking up, and media coverage. Yet worker and leadership demographics are still stagnant, companies are blocking unions, and harm is increasing.

We need to hold people accountable for the harm they cause, and that means tracking metrics and results. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated harm in the workplace, with the burden on women and nonbinary workers; Black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous employees; transgender or disabled workers; and especially those at the intersections of these identities. It’s time for action, for each and every one of us to be an active participant in change.

We need more protests and walkouts to call out harm, more boycotts of companies that underpay and overburden their workers, more unions and organizing communities, more speaking up and pushing back when it matters, and more people stepping back to make room for change.

Read More: 40 Ways to Build a More Equitable America

Meaningful change requires a complete reset. We need new paths and untested solutions. We need people to use their privilege not to take opportunities from others without it, but to share opportunities or step aside and give them to others. We need people who caused and enabled problems to make room for new leaders who will take risks to actually fix the problems.

We need accountability for harm-doers, like sexual harassers and direct discriminators. It also includes those who sit by and do nothing, who fail to hire, promote and pay fairly, who nod their heads and do nothing to change the system. We need to measure progress and set goals for demographics in hiring, pay, retention, promotions and leadership. We also need to reward those who meet the goals and hold those who don’t accountable for failures.

We cannot wait. If you have a position or opportunity because of privilege, share it with someone without that privilege. Or even better yet, give that opportunity to another person. Organize your co-workers or communities for a bigger voice and more impact. Take responsibility for long-term solutions and harm prevention by thinking through the impact of what you and your company do. Call out potential problems, and push for better solutions.

Now is the time for us to take action. Be an active participant for meaningful change. It’s time to stand up for those who haven’t been protected. It’s time to fight for what America should stand for. And it’s going to take all of us working together to make it happen.

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