Inclusion and diversity
An open letter from Lee Puri and Gurman Hundal
To the amazing people of MiQ,
Firstly, hats off to you all for the level of care and passion you have all expressed on racial injustice sparked by tragic recent events. It’s a reflection of the empathy and sensitivity that runs strongly through our people and makes us both very proud. Racial injustice has been institutionalised in society for hundreds of years and whilst society has undoubtedly progressed for equality throughout the decades, further progression is still needed. Our hearts go out to the Black community and especially our Black team members across the globe. The countless examples of prejudice, racism and injustice which have been public for so long must be so frustrating to continue to see, and the fact families still endure so much worry for their loved ones just highlights further progression is needed.
Although it may feel we are living in challenging times right now, we are potentially at an inflection point where positive change can occur and progression be more rapid.
Our view on what is happening right now is that everyone is asking themselves some uncomfortable questions. There is a genuine palpable feeling of realisation for many that is bringing with it huge discomfort. There is a realisation happening, yes, across the white population of how deep and systemic the issue of racism runs, but also a realisation from all minority groups on what more can they do to speed progression. However, for us this has to start on an individual level across all races – questions one may be asking themselves right now:
- What are the prejudices that I hold?
- How am I reinforcing prejudices?
- What am I doing to break down racial stereotypes?
- What am I prepared to let go of?
Take the two of us for example, both of us are men of colour, from Caribbean and Asian descent respectively. As individuals, racism is not a big surprise. It’s almost felt “normal” and institutionalised in society. We both have examples of experiencing racism and prejudice firsthand, admittedly more in our younger years as we do believe things have progressed, but we still experience this today as much so unconsciously, versus consciously.
With the privilege provided to us by our families, being educated and growing up in a welcoming developed nation, we have led positive lives, where we are very much content and happy. Recent events though have got us to look in the mirror and ask not only the above questions, but more specific questions such as:
- Should we have done more to call out racism when we experienced it vs accept it as “normal”?
- Why, with the capability and resources of our amazing business, MiQ, have we not spent more energy progressing racial justice and equality more?
- Have we done enough specifically for the Black community in the US?
- As business leaders have we shied away from using our heritage and our race to promote greater equality, and show how inclusivity and diversity drives success?
- Why have we shied away? Is it because we just think racism is normal and here to stay, so deal with it? Is it because we don’t want our race to be used for political or “marketing” scoring points? Are these excuses, is that good enough?
- Have we done enough inside MiQ to promote Inclusion and Diversity? Why have we been too slow on this, is it because we assume we are inclusive already?
- Why are Black people, as well as Hispanic people, so underrepresented in our company?
As with all of us, it feels, we have been thinking about racial injustice more in the last few weeks, then we ever have before. Both of us have been thinking about this from an MiQ level as well as a personal level. Even as people of colour, we ask ourselves the above and it feels uncomfortable. However, there is a realisation that it is ok to feel uncomfortable and in fact that is a good thing.
Education, awareness and personal reflection is a great thing. The change that needs to happen has to fix the root of the problem by continuing to uncover the uncomfortable truths that are causing so many issues right now… before a wound can heal it needs to be aired, cleaned and prepared… we feel the same applies here. There is no easy fix. We are talking about something that has existed for generations. Change starts with education, awareness and ultimately acceptance on a personal level.
At MiQ, our people come first, and we will constantly strive to over deliver for our people. As the founders and leaders of this business, we believe MiQ can play an important role in helping this change happen on an individual level, leaning in on awareness and education, migrating to a bigger more external view over time.
The key is always action over simple words. Sean kicked off some of the thinking on actions in his recent US all hands and we wanted to share more thoughts on this. The key with any action is a) for it not to be a short-term response to recent events, b) be cultivated, inspired by and driven from the passion within our people and c) be constantly evolving and long lasting in its nature.
To get started, these are the actions we plan to take in the coming weeks:
- Generating awareness and ongoing education – We’re putting together a series of speakers to talk about issues faced by Black, Asian and other minority groups to our people across the globe to challenge each of us to confront our own prejudices and consider what we can each actively do to break down the barriers of racial discrimination. We will start specifically on issues facing the Black community in America and migrate to wider racial injustice areas over time.
We are also creating safe spaces for our people to talk to external facilitators about race, discrimination, and prejudice on an ongoing basis. ERG groups will be key to kick starting this and allowing people to educate and connect on matters they are passionate about. We also want the outcome of these groups to help innovate and introduce new actions which can help us be long lasting in our efforts.
- Using our skills to make a difference – We’re a programmatic media partner, so we are going to use our skills to support Black, minority businesses and charities affected by recent events by giving them free media support to amplify their brands and their causes.We also will be diverting the theme of the virtual HackiQ, our annual hackathon, to be focused broadly around social justice and ask for our global community to participate.
- Recognising and celebrating Black communities and culture – On Juneteenth, a commemoration of the day when slaves in Texas were read the Emancipation Proclamation marking the end of slavery, our US team will have a day of education, commemoration and celebration, to reflect on the day and discuss further actions we can take as a business to support Black people.
- Giving time to vote – We believe voting is still the most powerful way to affect change globally. From now on, in any country you are in, we will give all our teams across the world a day off to participate in national general and local elections to make sure they can exercise their franchise and make their voice heard.
- Strive to have a more inclusive and diverse workforce – Yes, we are admittedly later than we should be on our efforts here. But with the recent addition of Sara Axelbaum, our new Global I&D Head, the newly formed global I&D committee and most importantly the willingness as well as passion of our people we will progress fast. With mental health taking the priority so far, we will be broadening our I&D efforts to multiple areas and communicating these as they happen. One area on the agenda will be making more purposeful efforts on recruitment, making sure we make more actionable efforts to source and appeal to a more diverse set of candidates across any recruitment process we start (e.g. Increasing our relationships with HBCUs).
On the Marketing front, over the last two weeks our business shut down all its external communications. We wanted to do our part in giving space to the disenfranchised groups of people, especially Black people, who have turned this moment into a global movement, and we wanted to take time to listen. More importantly we wanted to take time to reflect and understand what we could do.
We will be going back live with a focus on racial injustice. We have an opportunity to participate in keeping the conversation going and as a business, that is the small part we can play. We will focus all the company social communication around this for the next week or so, then slowly re-introduce elements of our original commercial marketing plan.
Once again, we are proud to work with you all and if you ever want to chat, you can reach out to us both at any time.
Lee and Gurman, Co-Founders – MiQ