On New Year’s Eve, just a few months ago, I was thinking about 2019 in retrospect. It was a tough year. Lots of friends suffering. The year had more pain and problems than most, some personal, some that touched us all. I remembered watching the protests in Hong Kong last year with empathy and sadness. I looked at Hong Kong as a place I once called home and felt deeply for people and places I loved. I had such hope that 2020 would be different.
I never could imagine that this year would be so full of unrest. The Covid pandemic has been unprecedented, but in the US our focus has changed quickly and dramatically. Our attention was turned to a place I also once called home many years ago, the twin cities of Minnesota. The recent murder of George Floyd is a reminder of so many previous and ongoing abuses of power. Witnessing these events raises feelings of sadness, grief and anger in most of us. Those feelings, like all the deepest parts of humanity, transcend race and border. I’m not writing because I pretend to have the answers. I don’t. I suspect I feel like many of you — I have complex emotions of grief, anger, sadness. This is an important moment in American history. This moment is forcing Americans, and to some extent the world, to confront hypocrisy — which I think is measured as the delta between what we believe and what we do. While the recent events are shocking and disturbing, there is something important happening right now. The unrest of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent injustices have forced us to really consider the American ideal that all people are created equal, and how can we better live that ideal every day.
But I also feel a call to action. I believe most social progress starts with empathy, understanding, and listening. It’s really hard to hate or discriminate against someone you understand. Or said more positively, it’s hard not to love someone who you really understand.
Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
One thing I do know is that when Dave and I founded this company we had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do and who we wanted to do it with. Our culture is our cornerstone. We hire people who are not only rock stars in their fields, but who are empathetic to the experiences of their colleagues around the world. In doing so, our hope is that we create a company of global citizens. And in working with you and talking with you over the years, and on this issue over the last few days, I do believe we can be part of the solution.
There are things we can focus on immediately. We can all continue to work on our emotional intelligence, and do whatever it takes to understand and eliminate all bias from our interactions and relationships. We can continue to explore and live our values. These values are not important because they are splashed on t-shirts and postcards. Social change is lived more than its created by posters and t-shirts. Our values are important because they represent who we are. It’s how we behave when no-one is looking.
And there are programs we can develop together that try to address some of the root causes of inequality. I’ve put together a task force, led by Vina, that will recommend what we will do as a company in areas such as mentoring and opportunity development. Many of you are already involved in these kinds of programs, whether it’s mentoring minority students in local high schools or volunteering time in community programs that provide experiences and enrichment to minority children that they may not otherwise get. The task force will look at how we can scale some of these activities so that a broader group of TTD employees can get involved.
At the same time, I hope that we’ve created a culture where we all feel safe. Where we all feel empowered to do our work. And where we all feel that we can raise issues and concerns without fear of anything but empathetic engagement from colleagues. I know that’s been my experience as I travel to all our offices around the world. I hope it is yours too. I urge you to speak with your manager, to people ops, or to reach out to me directly, if you have any questions or concerns. And I encourage us all to keep supporting one another as we have these important conversations and continue to grow our business.
Anything we’ve accomplished is thanks to our culture that prioritizes people and realizing our potential. And this makes me confident that each of us, in our own way, in our communities, will be part of the solution. And that gives me some hope about the future.
We are a technology company whose greatest asset is its people. Thanks for being here.
Let’s stand together and live our values.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.