NOTE: In Elastic we have an email alias that goes to all in the company. In it we welcome new employees, send ridiculous animated gifs, celebrate wins, and address issues that touch the whole company. The message below was sent to all of Elastic on January 28. It discusses some things that are internal, or not yet public, programs. The content is important enough that I share these publicly and more context will be provided in the future. The thread, currently at 40 plus replies, is what gives me hope for our company and, collectively, for our world.
The context of why I am writing the mail is probably obvious, with the recent acts done around immigration / refugees by the US administration. I have a few things to say about it in the context of our company.
The problem we are facing is global, and not tied only to the US. It is also not new. It is important, on many levels, including us being a distributed company and conversing with one another, to internalize it. Nigel Farage and the Brexit in the UK, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France, the anti Merkel movements in Germany (a country that has accepted more than a million Syrian refugees!), and many others across the globe are all rising in popularity partially due to the rise of anti immigration movements and the rhetoric that ensues.
The fact that this act was done during the international holocaust remembrance day intensifies it. A time when Jews, Muslims and Gypsies were turned down by countries, and so many lives could have been saved. As a Jew, with parents from Morocco and Turkey, who makes sure to trim his beard when traveling abroad, it has worried me for some time, and still worries me today.
We fight terrorism to protect our humanity, but if we are losing it along the way, what are we fighting for? There is no reason why we can’t solve this problem without giving up on it. Nations, and yes, companies, are judged on their ability to innovate and solve difficult problems both over a long and short time arcs.
Yet, I ask each and every one to make sure not to confuse the extremist and populist with conversations that must be had. When someone says they are for the anti immigration rules, for example, we should not shun them away, but ask why. You will learn that it comes from justified intrinsic fears. A whole segment in our population *feels* and has lost their social mobility, their ability to hope for better life for their next generation, their trust in the education system, and more. It is then that people facing such challenges will resort to quick, populistic answers, life is tough. Terrorism is horrible and scary. Our responsibility is to converse and acknowledge these difficulties, discuss how they can be solved, while maintaining what makes our society great. I wish you the power to converse with each other, oppose the extremist, and the power to distinguish between the two.
I want to make it clear, a diverse society is a resilient society. A diverse company is a resilient company. The more diverse we are, let it be ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, geographic location, or any other aspect, will make us stronger, more humane, and much much more successful.
I am still optimistic. If you take a step back, our world has been going in an upward and to the right trend (good). We have blips along the way, and it is our responsibility to make sure those blips are recovered quickly. It starts with each and every one of you on a personal level. Talk to others and show empathy when needed (almost always), yet tenacity when applicable. Work towards solving the actual difficulties people are facing, and share the load with them to make things better. Humanity, as a whole, is good, we are just doing too good of a job now to make the extremist sound and look bigger than they are, including their hands.
What does it mean in the context if our company? A few things:
- As far as I know, nobody in our company has been affected by the recent rules. If you think you might have, please mail myself and Leah and we will figure things out.
- I realized we never made a statement, to the company, about our stance towards diversity. Here it is:
A more diverse company will make for a better company, and we should continuously strive for it.
- One of the reasons for the Elastic Cares program is to give our employees the opportunity to invest in such causes, and now you can invest both time and money.
- We are working towards completely overhauling our About section on our website with a working group that I lead. We will make sure to represent and talk about what we believe as a company in this revamped section. It will form part of the foundation towards our journey to increase diversity in the company, as we strive to make sure we become a great company. *This is at the very early stages, and I promise to share it more broadly once things become slightly more concrete.
- We are working on an online store on our site. I have asked our marketing team to make sure that next to branded T-Shirts and stickers, we will have clothing and cultural elements that celebrate diversity, doubling down on the current, most urgent, statement we need to make, which is supporting our Muslim family. A (lightly) branded hijab, a praying mat, would be a good start. Going beyond towards the many different cultures we have will be a worthy goal.
- Build a company that doubles down on empathy, the ability to understand the other side. If it is with our products and our users, our customers, our different orgs, our coworkers. At the same time, build a company that takes a strong and unwavering stance when needed.
- There are several other initiatives we are doing around increasing our diversity as a company, I want myself and Leah to share them properly in a dedicated mail / content.