Anti-Racism in the Workplace: How 6 LA Tech Companies Are Taking Action to Support the Black Community

July 17, 2020

As the demand for racial justice and equity for Black Americans has grown louder, tech companies have looked introspectively to identify how they can better support and advocate for their Black communities and colleagues.

For example, ChowNow kicked off efforts by taking a pause to hear directly from their Black employees before launching any campaigns. 

“We’ve been proactive to listen and understand how we can best support our Black team members,” said ChowNow HR Director Kristine Minter. “The worst thing we could do is assume that we know what they need or take a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Leaders from the restaurant ordering platform have since responded with initiatives aimed to bolster Black representation in middle management, as well as new mental health partnerships and resources to better support their Black team members. 

Meanwhile, fintech platform Dave invited Lora King, the daughter of Rodney King and the founder of the Rodney King Foundation, to a companywide meeting to share what actions individuals could take to impact racial justice and equity.  

“The conversation gave everyone a chance to get educated and take action,” said Lauryn Nwanpka, Dave’s head of social impact. A series of company-matched donations in support of the Black Lives Matters protests followed, additional safe spaces for Black team members to share their experiences opened up, and many of the team members met up for LA’s Juneteenth march. 

For the six companies below, these initiatives mark just the beginning of what will be a continuous conversation on antiracism in the workplace. 

 

tiktok
tiktok
Belinda Frazier
Head of Culture and Diversity, North America

What steps is TikTok taking to support racial justice and equality?

Diversity is our strength and inclusivity is the foundation of TikTok’s DNA. We recognize that conversations around racial justice and equality are happening all around us and on our platform on a daily basis, and the role we play in fostering and elevating this important dialogue is not lost on us.

On the platform level, we are investing in our technology and moderation strategies to enhance our community guidelines, which strictly ban racism and hate speech on our platform.  

We are furthering our commitment to the larger community through donations to groups that are supporting the Black community, including $3 million from our Community Relief Fund to nonprofits that help the Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; $1 million toward fighting the racial injustice and inequality that we are witnessing in this country; and a 2-to-1 company donation match on every dollar contributed by our employees to nonprofit organizations at the center of this issue.

 

What is TikTok doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office?

Internally, we have worked closely with our Black employees to guide our decision-making and response. We launched an internal diversity task force and have developed a Creator Diversity Collective to analyze how our products and policies can better serve people of all backgrounds. 

Our Collective brings creators from different backgrounds together to provide feedback and challenge us on diversity, inclusion and representation in our programs and on our platform. 

These creators were chosen due to both their knowledge of TikTok and their dedication to advocating for a more inclusive platform. The inaugural members of the Collective, who will be joined by more creators of diverse backgrounds in the coming weeks, will meet regularly with TikTok employees to share the perspectives of the creator community.
 

Change doesn’t happen overnight but as a collective team, we are committed to taking the necessary steps to make a positive impact.” 


How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the Black community?

We are constantly listening to and engaging in meaningful dialogue with our employees in order to foster a transparent and inclusive culture here at TikTok. We have affinity groups at TikTok where employees can have transparent conversations with like-minded people to drive change.

We have leaders who are passionate about promoting a workplace that is supportive and uplifting for all employees. Change doesn’t happen overnight but as a collective team, we are committed to taking the necessary steps to make a positive impact and help move the Black community forward.

 

chownow
chownow
Kristine Minter
Director of HR

What steps is ChowNow taking to support racial justice and equality?

The first step ChowNow took to support racial injustice and equality in our community was calling it out. These are not political issues. These are human rights issues, and ChowNow will always fall on the side of equality for all humans. We needed to acknowledge the painful emotions that our Black community is feeling. Our Black team members are experiencing, and have been experiencing, unjust levels of fear, pain and frustration. We want to make it clear to them that there is absolutely no expectation or obligation for them to performatively present that they were feeling any other way at work.

 

Community Investments

Recently, ChowNow made significant donations to the King Center and the NAACP. For its current campaign, the company is encouraging employees to donate to 16 organizations that “share a desire to advance equality for all,” Minter said. “We wanted to empower the team to make donations to organizations that they closely identify with.” ChowNow and its senior executives, board of directors and legal team will match employees’ donations.

 

What is ChowNow doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office?

We’ve been proactively listening and understanding how we can best support our Black team members. The worst thing we could do is assume that we know what they need or take a one-size-fits-all approach. This is done through a number of channels, the most important and impactful being the one-on-one meetings each team member has with their manager. 

In May, we also conducted our quarterly Employee Net Promoter Score survey. In the feedback, our employees called out that we need more representation of Black employees in our middle management positions. To address this, we’re taking a multi-step approach that begins with reviewing our talent pipeline and sources to ensure that we have a diverse candidate pool. We’re also working to ensure that our interview panels are inclusive and provide diverse outlooks. We’re reviewing our internal promotion process, and we’re identifying training and mentorship opportunities. 

Through our multiple feedback channels, we also learned that we need to expand the mental health benefits and resources available for our Black team members. In Q3, we’re partnering with a mental health platform that will provide in-person, virtual and chat-based therapy and coaching, while making sure the providers are representative of our team. It’s extremely important for us to have therapists and coaches who can understand the social and cultural context in which our Black employees operate, so they can provide tailored support.

We understand that this is not a sprint, but a marathon. Guaranteeing that our Black team members feel supported and included is a long-term commitment. This requires that we examine not only our culture but the structures and policies we have in place in hiring practicings, promotions, performance evaluations, pay practices, training programs, recognition and internal communication. 
 

Guaranteeing that our Black team members feel supported and included is a long-term commitment.”  

 
How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the Black community?

We determined the actions we would take by listening to our team and putting in place actions that support what our Black employees are asking for. ChowNow has always promoted a culture of continuous and open feedback. Our CEO, managers and people and culture team have an open-door policy, and we stress to our team that we’re here to help. We also survey our team quarterly before and after our company town halls and before any major benefits-related decisions are made. 

 

dave
dave
Lauryn Nwanpka
Head of Social Impact

What steps is Dave currently taking to support racial justice and equality?

The current financial system is broken. Twice as many Black and Latino Americans pay bank fees, and Black Americans are five times more likely to be unbanked. Of those who do have bank accounts, the average cost of maintaining a checking account is $262.09 higher for Latinos and $190.09 higher for Black people when compared to white customers. 

By building accessible tools through our banking account, automatic budgeting and side job board, we’re able to support racial justice and equality in the financial systems by way of our product. 

Internally, in light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Dave created a donation matching program where Dave would match employee donations totaling up to $25,000 to benefit the NAACP’s mission of building political power and ensuring the well-being of communities of color. Dave employees have a long-running volunteer partnership with local LA organizations such as the LA Promise Fund and Codetalk, which provide opportunities for underrepresented youth and women of color to enter the tech sector. 

 

What is Dave doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office?

It is critical that people feel seen and heard at work. Following the Black Lives Matter protests, I had the honor of hosting Lora King, founder of the Rodney King Foundation, to talk about what actions we could take as individuals to tackle racial injustice and inequity during our weekly companywide meeting. 

The conversation gave everyone a chance to get educated and take action. In addition to the donation matching, our CEO invited everyone to stop work during Blackout Tuesday to pay homage to the movement happening across the country and LA. Members of the leadership team also held additional office hours for team members to share their experiences, offer resources and support one another. A group of employees also attended the Juneteenth march in LA, and we continue to have discussions in our internal Black Lives Matter channel on Slack.
 

We have built processes to encourage belonging and built the best possible culture for our employees.”  


How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the Black community?

We have built processes to encourage belonging and built the best possible culture for our employees. Immediately following the BLM protests, we met with our culture committee, a diverse group of employees from across departments that meet biweekly in a safe space to discuss issues impacting Dave’s culture. We used this established safe space to discuss what each person was hearing from their team members and the kind of support they need from management. 

Our first priority in all of our actions surrounding the protests was to make sure that our response was truly authentic. Our CEO is a passionate advocate for racial justice, so we shared his thoughts on the issue both internally and externally. We also recognized openly how difficult it is to have conversations on issues of race. While our work is just beginning, leaning on our value of transparency and the activation of practices related to culture and belonging ensured alignment with the Black community. 

 

your super
your super
Kieran Smith
Director of Data & Analytics

What steps is Your Super currently taking to support racial justice and equality? 

Your Super has taken an authentic and committed approach to support racial justice and equity within our organization and our community. It began with our management team creating an open and welcoming space for colleagues to discuss their experiences with racial injustice. The company has shared resources and offered funds for our team to educate ourselves on the long and harrowed history of racial injustices in America, and possible solutions, such as professors Sandy Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen’s recent bestseller “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.” 

Your Super also donated a combined $50,000 toward nonprofit organizations Black Girls Code, Black Mamas Matter Alliance and the Loveland Foundation in support of the empowerment and wellness of Black women and girls throughout America. 
 

Our management team took the approach of stop and listen’ to the Black members and other members of our organization.”   


What is your company doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office? 

Internally, Your Super has fostered ongoing conversations and open dialogue for Black colleagues to share our experiences and recognize our specific lineage as the descendants of slavery and colonialism here in America as well as abroad. These open dialogues, combined with diversity training led by Black professionals in the space, have provided an enriched experience for all colleagues and even more so for our Black employees. 

 

How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the Black community? 

Our management team took the uncommon but powerful approach of “stop and listen” to the Black members and other members of our organization who suffer the burdens of racial injustices daily to guide our efforts. They took the same approach when listening to our people operations leadership as they were coordinating ongoing racial justice and equity training and programs. 

 

videoamp
videoamp
Marisa Peters
Chief People Officer

What steps is VideoAmp taking to support racial justice and equality in your community?

We are putting a spotlight on small Black-owned businesses and providing employees lists of all sorts of local spots to support, from restaurants to bookstores, across our offices and nationally. VideoAmp also supports minority youth organizations, which offer mentoring and education to inspire careers in the digital technology industry. In addition to our partnership with PowerToFly, we are implementing more assertive diversity hiring and recruitment practices, which is making VideoAmp a place where anyone can feel valued and inspired to thrive. We’re on a mission to further diversify our company workforce and drive a culture where all people feel they belong. 

 

What is your company doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office? 

As a young and rapidly growing company, we definitely took a step back and looked at where we could improve and grow from the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve created an open forum through weekly employee surveys and a newly formed employee advisory group to give everyone a space to voice concerns, encourage authentic and open discussion, and share ways to further get involved in our communities. This is a way to get the entire organization to rise and rally around areas that will be most impactful in this cause. We’ve also offered the opportunity to be part of healing circles through our partnership with Modern Health among other mental health support at no cost to our employees and their dependents. 

 

How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the Black community?

It started the week of George Floyd’s murder, with our executive leadership team speaking openly about the events during an all-hands meeting. Coming out of that, the VideoAmp people team took some immediate actions like the observation of Blackout Tuesday and making Juneteenth an annual company holiday. We felt these actions provided time and space for reflection and increased awareness of racial injustice in our country. Instead of having a purely top-down approach, we quickly launched our employee advisory group (EAG) to create actionable, sustainable and meaningful ways to grow as an organization, ensuring all employees could be seen and heard. Over 100 employees quickly rallied together, and now the EAG meets twice a week and have already formed actionable initiatives.

 

We are committed to this long term journey of sustained change and growth in our organization and community.”


We continue to explore ways to educate our internal organization on the specific needs of the Black community through proactive and ongoing resource-sharing. We also know we still have a lot to learn. We are forming a thought-leader speaker series, launching a book club featuring Black authors with books purchased from Black-owned bookstores, and scheduling viewing events for films and TV shows that will further increase our knowledge of Black history and racial injustices. We share weekly companywide updates from the digital library of resources our EAG has created to keep the momentum of this movement front and center. As we move forward, we get a pulse of our people via anonymized surveys to understand the impact and progress they feel we are making in this important effort. We are committed to this long-term journey of sustained change and growth in our organization and community.

 

advertise purple
advertise purple

What steps is Advertise Purple taking to support racial justice and equality?

For our organization, it’s not about the steps we’re currently taking to course-correct given recent public events. Instead, it’s about the path we’ve been on since the inception of Advertise Purple. The makeup of our company and leadership positions are highly diverse, with over 70 percent of the highest paying and leadership roles currently comprised of people of underrepresented backgrounds. We realize that we are not perfect, and we have made an effort to create systemic equality since day one. It shows in our employee profile before recent events and will long after.

 

What is Advertise Purple doing to support and empower Black team members — both inside and outside the office?

We have Black team members playing crucial roles on our team, including the head our human resources, head of content and our business development lead. Others hold key positions in our finance, digital content strategy and press, and account management departments. These hires were selected based on their superb work history and education, which include degrees from our nation’s most competitive universities like Columbia University and Stanford.

In addition to our internal efforts, we make concerted efforts to support the Black community via team donations and publicly facing content strategies. We’ve donated to NAACP and Minnesota Freedom Fund following the death of George Floyd, put together an education article on our company website about Juneteeth (and observed it as a company holiday), and took an active stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.
 

We realize that we are not perfect, and we have made an effort to create systemic equality since day one.”


How did you determine which actions your company would take? How have you worked to ensure your actions are meaningful, impactful and in alignment with the needs of the black community?

I rely heavily on open communication with our Black team members to assist us in taking public and necessary steps to assist the community. Although donations and content strategies are immediate avenues we can use for positive change, nothing compares to our continued support of equal employment and career growth for the Black members of our team.

 

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