Let’s be clear that 2020 was a tough year. We started off with a pandemic, witnessed ongoing violence towards the Black and API communities, and weathered political turmoil around the globe. When it came to racial justice, Twilio, like many companies, made it very clear that neutrality is not an option and committed to becoming an antiracist company.
“No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do.” - Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist
To honor this commitment, we set actionable company-wide business priorities and measures (BPMs) to further equity in our systems. We did this in the form of the following Racial Justice and Equity Initiatives:
- Launched RiseUp, a cohort-based, targeted leadership development program for new Black and LatinX Twilions.
- Refined The Inclusion Rule, an internal recruitment process to ensure a diverse slate of candidates.
- Opened our BetterUp Coaching offerings to all Black and LatinX Twilions, with a focus on career planning and development.
- Expanded Hatch, a six-month software engineering apprenticeship program open to individuals from nontraditional and underrepresented backgrounds.
- Enhanced our Be Inclusive curriculum to build a common language around inclusion and support Twilions in mitigating their own biases.
- Refined Twilio Unplugged, an interview preparation series aimed to provide candidates with the right tools, skills, and resources to pass our interviews.
- Leveraged the Bar Raiser Program, which works to mitigate bias from our hiring process by including a neutral interviewer.
These efforts were not only rooted in antiracism, but they were also a catalyst for a new way of thinking. We know it is not enough to simply say we are committed. We need to shift the way we do business and operate as a company. This is the time to leverage our products, people and resources to create a more just and equitable world. Our unique position as a driving force of engagement and communication across the globe means that we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to model inclusive practices and behaviors for our customers and fellow industry leaders. It also means that we have a responsibility for creating an equitable and inclusive workplace for the diversity of Twilions today and tomorrow.
We believe the DEI landscape needs to evolve to reflect the fact that we are not seeing notable progress across the industry. In 2020, we were not only inspired to become an antiracist company, but we hypothesized that antiracism could be a framework that could effectively drive DEI across the board. So we are testing this theory.
Twilio does not pretend that it has all the answers. We will make mistakes. We have made mistakes. But we will examine our imperfections in an effort to reduce them—and we are committed to sharing what we learn in this report in future years.
Embedding antiracism in everything we do
Moving forward, our DEI strategy will function through an antiracism lens. Though the term “antiracism” is most widely used in the United States and specifically refers to race, it speaks to something quite universal: the necessity of ongoing action to challenge and redistribute power. In this vein, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion requires intentional, moment-by-moment action without a finite endpoint—and it requires this on a global scale.
We believe antiracism will enable us to both broaden and deepen our DEI work. We will take the principles of antiracism and extend them to serve other underrepresented communities, like those who identify as LGBTQ+, have a disability, or have military experience. Through antiracism, we can also deepen our understanding of specific and intersectional identities, like how colorism can drastically shape one’s experience. Lastly, through continuous self-awareness, we will better understand how our work must be structured in different regions across the globe. In short, while antiracism in itself does focus on race, we believe the framework to becoming antiracist will effectively serve all of our communities.
There is no playbook for how to become an antiracist company. The road ahead will include its fair share of challenges, but we are ready to take them on. To start, we are broadening our aperture beyond what DEI looks like in our field. At Twilio, this means we’re expanding our set of metrics to better reflect what DEI encompasses today.