When we build a website, we aim for the highest level of accessibility – as rated by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – because we believe the Internet should be for all people.
But to us, those guidelines are just a checklist, and the word accessibility doesn’t go far enough. Instead, we hold ourselves to a larger goal of inclusive design, based on empathy and the understanding of barriers others face, seen and unseen.
This is a cornerstone of our business.
It should be a cornerstone of our lives as well.
The public discourse over social justice, discrimination, violence and racism is not new, but it has reached a tipping point. As a Certified B Corporation and a company that prides itself on balancing purpose with profit, we recognize we have a responsibility to act.
It’s easy to say what we hope is understood: Lifeblue condemns racism, discrimination and violence. We believe all people should live without fear. We believe all people should be treated with dignity and respect.
It’s harder to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we have done enough to prove it.
Earlier this week, Anthea Kelsick delivered a powerful message that resonated with us. The co-CEO of B Corp, who is Black, challenged companies in the B Corp community to be leaders of change:
We don’t have to be perfect to start. But we do need to be vocal and bring explicit conversations about race and racism to all of our stakeholders – the people inside our companies, our customers and our communities. Let’s ask ourselves – what am I doing today?
- How am I educating myself and my stakeholders about structural racism?
- How am I holding space to allow for conversations about structural racism in my company?
- What practices does my company have in place to support Black and People of Color team members?
- How am I supporting Black and People of Color business leaders that are in the B Corp community or other communities I’m a part of?
- How am I supporting civic engagement to hold public leaders accountable and tackle structural racism in our systems of government?
We asked ourselves those questions, and I am not proud of the answers.
This week, we started companywide conversations about what we are seeing and what we are feeling. We talked about how to understand and address the different types of bias all people carry – yet another principle of good web design that has a more meaningful application in everyday life.
Many of us wrote and shared the fears we have about what we will find as we open ourselves up in the weeks and months ahead. We reaffirmed our commitment to open and honest communication, based in part on our use of the principles taught in Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor – caring personally while challenging directly.
We are preparing for a broader discussion led by one of our team members at our next weekly lunch-and-learn session to help us understand the historical context of the Black experience, from Jim Crow to the prison industrial complex and beyond. We will listen as team members share their experiences and we will seek to understand their perspectives.
We will look for specific, measurable actions we can take that will make us a part of the solution. And we will be intentional about following through on those actions.
We recognize that a digital agency in Plano, Texas, can’t change the world with good intentions and posts on social media. We also recognize the powerful difference individuals can make when they work together for the common good.
We have a saying at Lifeblue: We make an impact on the world, one line of code at a time.
To that, I would add: one conversation, one understanding, one moment of empathy at a time.