On Juneteenth, Austin’s Tech Leaders Pledge to Take Actions to Fight Against Bias and Racism in the Workplace

On Juneteenth, Notley, a philanthropic organization, published an open letter on racial justice from the Austin tech community.

Some of the locally-based tech companies signing the letter include Silicon Labs, WP Engine, Data.World, SailPoint, and others.

“The purpose of the letter is to commit Austin’s tech community to action against racism,” according to a news release. “Notley’s hope is that this gives the tech community concrete steps they can take in the fight against structural bias and racismin the workplace.”

In Texas, Juneteenth has been a state holiday since 1980. And this year, many tech startups like Data.World declared the date, June 19th, as a company holiday. Other larger tech companies like Tesla also made that declaration. And U.S. Senators enter a bill on Friday to declare Juneteenth a national holiday, according to NBC News.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It dates back to 1865 when the Union soldiers landed in Galveston with news that the war had ended and enslaved were now free. That news came nearly two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The City of Austin allowed artists to paint Congress Avenue with the statement “Black Austin Matters” earlier this week. Artists also painted “Black Artists Matter” on the street on Austin’s East Side.

Earlier this month, thousands rallied at Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin to demand an end to racism and to condemn police violence, according to a KUT story. The rally occurred after more than a week of protests in Austin.

The Notley letter outlines steps tech leaders can take to advance racial justice. The companies signing the letter pledge to move beyond words and to take action. The actions include:

  • Listening to our Black employees and investing time and money to support them in ways they request support
  • Requiring all recruiters to complete training on identifying and removing bias from the hiring process
  • Providing all employees with regular opportunities to engage in racial justice education and action
  • Providing all employees with as much paid time off as they need to exercise their voting rights on Election Day each year
  • Partnering with local nonprofits and universities to build a pipeline of future Black hires
  • Identifying and working with Black-owned businesses to supply our vendor needs and build wealth in the Black community
  • Financially supporting organizations that address racial disparities in the criminal justice system
  • Financially supporting organizations that address voter suppression in Texas