Reflecting on our inclusion and diversity journey

Two weeks ago, we shared our commitment to Black Lives Matter, knowing that the work of solidarity goes far beyond an external statement. The work to manifest our values requires honest introspection and a commitment to the deep internal work that’s required of us, both as individuals and as a company. Despite the influx of brands issuing statements right now, there is understandable skepticism and mistrust at the outpouring: Why did it take so long? Will this support go beyond a publicity play? What specific actions are companies taking, today and into the future? 

These questions are not only valid, but they also surface the kind of scrutiny, reflection, and energy that can help propel the world toward real change. I have now been at Fastly for nearly a year spearheading our global inclusion and diversity (I&D) efforts. And I want to invite you into our journey thus far to help address some of these questions, and be as transparent as possible about our successes and challenges as we look toward the future.

Tech as a whole has serious and well-acknowledged diversity issues — but we have to own honestly, without excuses, that Fastly lacks adequate racial diversity, particularly when it comes to Black employees. We also know that Black Lives Matter is a global movement, and as an international company, our response has to address the ways people experience anti-Blackness around the world.

When I joined, the staff here had genuine intentions to ensure we had a safe, equitable, and diverse workplace, but there weren’t significant and sustained actions to turn that into reality. Because there was no one owning I&D efforts, the inputs and ideas people put forward felt one-off, and they never spun up into official programs and initiatives, causing missed opportunities, missteps, and a lack of trust. Addressing these issues was the motivation to create my position and function: we sought to build an intentional and programmatic approach to I&D, so we could set goals and measure ourselves against them. 

Upon joining, one of the first things I did was go on a listening tour. We needed to clearly understand how our employees felt, why they felt that way, and what their expectations for I&D were. This included focus groups — some based on identity, like spaces dedicated for women, Black and Latinx folks, and LGBTQ+ team members, while others were based on level, like managers and C-suite staff — as well as nearly 100 one-on-one conversations. We also launched a company-wide survey, which garnered over 900 unique comments. From all this internal data, we identified several actionable, recurring themes. The most common things people wanted from us were:

  • To invest in early-career talent, and ensure we weren’t over-indexing on our most senior members

  • To find meaningful ways to connect and celebrate each other’s lived experiences

  • To reject any “good old boys’ club” mentality, and uplevel our interactions, language, and ways we view and celebrate successes

  • To embrace inclusive hiring processes

Based on this data, we were able to lay a foundation for our I&D work, and determine where to focus our efforts. Here are some of the immediate actions we took and what’s currently underway:

  • We created an internal I&D Council, made up of 13 folks throughout the organization with a diversity of backgrounds, including three executives. This group has a rich variety of experiences and perspectives, and regularly meets to help further embed our work at Fastly, speak up about their experiences, and partner with us to make decisions.

  • Within the year of my hiring, we opened up more I&D headcount to bring on a Program Manager.

  • We are bringing in coaching from I&D experts for executives in order to help reframe language, educate on lived experiences and sensitivities, and create more inclusive practices and environments. 

  • We’ve mandated time off to help people cope with the compounding mental health tolls of COVID-19 and racial injustice, and have offered a $1,000 wellness stipend to all employees to be spent as they see fit. We’re continuing to actively work on ways to expand our mental wellness initiatives company-wide.

  • We’ve partnered with the learning and development team throughout the year to offer numerous learning opportunities, with trainings for managers and a company-wide anti-bias course. 

  • We launched a “Language Police and Women in the Workplace” workshop to explore how gender bias plays a role in evaluating performance.

  • We’re championing Pride this month with a mix of educational and celebratory events, from learning about the importance LGBTQ+ folks in Black Lives Matter and social justice movements, to a virtual ga(y)me hour, drag 101 makeup tutorial, and a remote movie watching and discussion party.

  • We’re honoring Juneteenth with a day of reflection and learning, with speakers discussing the biases that can impair equity in the workplace, and lessons on how to be a better ally. 

It’s important to emphasize that our response is still being built and broadened — and we’re taking the time to ensure it’s comprehensive and well-baked. But action and preparation can happen simultaneously. As I look ahead, I see incremental steps happening alongside major initiatives, all laddering up to visionary goals for how we operate as a company. We’re currently reviewing everything from hiring and retention practices, pay equity and growth potential, speakers and trainings, diversity in our leadership and on our board, participation in sponsorships and events, and more. 

Systemic racism is nothing new. There are many longstanding cultural and societal obstacles that make this work challenging — and this creates internal hurdles for people in my role. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far, as well as the backing and support I’ve received. I have a direct manager that gives me space, provides thought partnership, and will roll up her sleeves to get the work done, as well as executives who have committed in a way I’ve rarely seen to do the work, and access to our CEO that many in my role don’t have. We’ve got the financial support we need to not only donate to organizations on the frontlines, but also to increase headcount, bring in outside expertise, and further make progress toward our inclusivity and equity goals. We’re not giving lip service to a moment — but rather committing to a movement. I believe our work in the coming months and years will show that.

While I’m incredibly proud of the foundation we’ve built, we are early in our journey. We have made mistakes, sometimes painful and uncomfortable ones, and we humbly accept that there will be more pitfalls and setbacks along the way. Our goal is not perfection, but a continued and relentless commitment to do the work in earnest. That means holding ourselves accountable, educating ourselves and our spheres of influence, building empathy, and applying our learnings so we can act in more meaningful and effective ways. In order for there to be equity, we must design and build programs for the most marginalized people.

This moment has been painful for many of us, but it also feels like an inflection point that has the potential of hope and promise for a brighter, more equitable future — a place where all Black Lives Matter. Thank you for joining us, helping us hold each other accountable, and doing better to uplift Black lives as a global community. More to come.

Maurice Wilkins
Global Diversity and Inclusion

5 min read

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Maurice Wilkins
Global Diversity and Inclusion

Maurice Wilkins leads Global Diversity and Inclusion at Fastly, where he is building the company’s first comprehensive model for inclusion and employee engagement. Prior to joining Fastly, Maurice was the Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). Maurice began his career in the education and non-profit space primarily focused on youth and juvenile justice programs, and he currently serves on the Board of LearnServe International, an innovative non-profit helping shape the next generation of social impact leaders and entrepreneurs. Maurice believes it is his personal responsibility to build a table large enough for everyone to have a seat and voice.

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