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June 11, 2020

Addressing Racial Injustice

5 mins read

We stand in solidarity against racial injustice. We believe in inclusion, diversity, and equity. We believe in giving our employees the support they need, cultivating allies among our ranks and investing in our community to make positive changes.

Following is an email sent from Burton White, Excella Co-founder and CEO, to Excella employees.

June 1, 2020


Last week we witnessed the brutal and vivid killing of George Floyd on the heels of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. These tragic events happened while coronavirus is disproportionally affecting the Black community. All of this is making clear the stark reality that the world of opportunity is not the same for all of us. This is unacceptable in our society and must be unacceptable to all of us as Excellians.

Like all of you, I spent the weekend and today processing these events. I had emotions ranging from deep sadness to anger to confusion to motivation to act. These horrific circumstances put enormous stress on our Black colleagues. It is time for every Excellian to stand together to face this injustice and I am calling on you to join in doing so.

Here are the two questions we must answer urgently:

What can we do as a firm to be the best possible allies to our Black colleagues?

How can we use the Excella platform – our platform – to address racial injustice?

I believe every organization has an obligation and enormous opportunity to uplift the community in which they live and work using the talents and platform they have. We have many talents and a powerful platform to offer our community. But as they say on an airplane, you must put on your own oxygen mask first so that you are able to help others do the same. While I am eager to use our leadership outside of Excella, we must put on our own oxygen mask first.

Excella’s vision includes these aspirations:

We will have rich diversity in all aspects of our business. Everyone who encounters Excella will feel welcomed, respected, and a sense of mutual benefit.

This is vital to the basic rights of all Excellians and vital to Excella’s success because our teams will fail without it. While we have made great progress through our diversity and inclusion strategy, we have not fully realized this vision, so we must redouble our commitment and increase our efforts.

Learning and Understanding

One of the best parts of the “Excella platform” is Excellians’ eagerness to learn and share. A critical part of ensuring every Excellian feels “welcomed, respected, and a sense of mutual benefit” is developing deeper mutual understanding so that we value the contribution every Excellian makes to our work and lives. Here are some immediate learning opportunities:

1. Members of our BlaX and Friends affinity group have agreed to host an Ask Me Anything session this Thursday about racial injustice. I encourage every Excellian to participate.

2. When founders of BlaX and Friends formed the affinity group, one critical objective was to engage “Friends” in the journey of learning. I encourage every Excellian to join the slack channel #blax-and-friends, participate in the affinity group’s events and conversations, and help spread the knowledge you learn beyond Excella.

3. In that channel, several excellent articles have been posted describing the challenges facing the Black community in this time of crisis and how to be an ally during times of tragedy. I encourage every Excellian to read them.

Our diversity and inclusion strategy includes bringing education and learning about race to Excellians. The People Services team is identifying additional opportunities to make available soon and welcomes your input on topics of interest.

Exceptional Careers

The most powerful part of the “Excella platform” is found in our purpose:

Excella exists to cultivate exceptional careers for Excellians…

A critical part of addressing racial injustice is to make exceptional job opportunities available in fields such as tech and with companies like Excella. Here are immediate actions we’re taking to increase opportunities for the Black community and marginalized groups:

1. I’ve asked our People Services team to strengthen our plan and specific goals to establish Excella as the industry leader for Black and other underrepresented professionals in our ranks (we are currently at the industry average). Doing so will increase opportunities for Black and other underrepresented professionals and the quality of our culture for all Excellians.

2. As of today, I have approved People Services’ request to reallocate budget to double our investment into minority-related networking and career development organizations focused on tech. Doing so will help us foster careers for underrepresented professionals and build relationships with potential future Excellians. We’re also identifying other ways to support organizations in fighting racial injustice.

3. We are creating a Diversity and Inclusion intranet site to increase transparency into Excella’s demographics.

NOTE: these commitments will yield very little without broad Excellian engagement. As specific opportunities arise, I will encourage all Excellians to participate in our efforts.

Immediate Support
I recognize this is a time of great sadness, grief, and a mix of many emotions for all of us. HR is available with employee assistance program (EAP) information which offers grief counseling among other resources for Excellians. If you prefer to speak with an Excella leader directly, we are all available to talk or just listen.

Next steps
Solutions to this problem are illusive and as complex as the problem itself. That can make taking action confusing and daunting. This year, I’ve committed personally and in leadership of Excella to move faster by taking action, being willing to make mistakes, and adjusting as we (I) learn. This moment calls for both action and grace with each other as we work through this, make mistakes, have difficult conversations, and learn together.

Excella’s actions and opportunities for you to engage listed above are only a starting point. I would love to hear from you about this. Slack me, reply to the post about this email, or join the conversation in #blax-and-friends.

Great progress happens when Excellians get inspired by something important and take initiative to do something about it. Now is one of those times. Let’s get going.

In solidarity,

This is the first of two emails sent to employees by Burton addressing racial injustice. View Burton’s second email here.

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