Black Lives Matter
25 May 2021
A year ago the world was shaken. George Floyd was murdered at the hands of a white police officer and the world witnessed it. The subsequent outcry and widespread protests were evidence of a growing call for change; to finally address the systemic racism and ongoing violence against people of color. These are not new issues but it feels like I am just starting to understand how systemic racism is integrated into the world we live in and what we need to do to make a difference.
The discussions, transparency and focus on change over the last twelve months make me believe that the world is changing. Change doesn’t happen quickly, but the world does change. When we started the company, gay marriage was illegal and Obama even stated he was against it. But thanks to the activism of thousands of individuals, the world did change. Change is absolutely possible, but it requires work from all of us.
23andMe is an activist brand and I want us to be part of driving change. The best thing we can do is lead by example and impact all the lives connected to 23andMe. That means looking at our culture, evaluating our partnerships and taking a deeper look at our product. In the spirit of our core values, “we will make mistakes but we will learn from them and keep blazing forward.”
On this day of remembering George Floyd, honor his life by thinking about what you can do to help drive change. Embrace uncomfortable conversations. Push yourself to learn. The way that we will make change is to question the environment we currently live in, keep learning from others that have different experiences than us, and actually change behaviors and actions.
Today my thoughts are with Mr. Floyd’s family, and the families of so many others in the Black community who have unnecessarily lost a loved one to hate and racism. I am committed to personally and professionally being part of the community of people that will eliminate systemic racism and make the world equitable and fair for all.
CEO and Co-founder, 23andMe
2 June 2020
We are observing Blackout Tuesday, a day of action against racial injustice, and will be dark on our global websites for 24 hours.
For those in the black community, we know you carry an extra burden right now and 23andMe stands in solidarity with you.
Our company is based on the foundation that all of us are linked by a shared thread - DNA - that we are genetically 99.5% the same. We share so much in common, yet black and brown skin means you will disproportionately experience injustices and prejudice that can put lives on completely different trajectories.
I feel awful and overwhelmed by the events going on. Hashtag after hashtag, there is little meaningful change. How can we break the cycle? The world is filled with people who, I believe, genuinely want to create an equitable society but are unsure how to take the first step to make that happen. We all have habits we need to break, biases we need to actively fight and silence we need to end.
As a leader who really cares, I feel the responsibility to not just talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, but to make meaningful changes and contributions through my own actions and how we operate at 23andMe. Our management team, Board and employee base must have greater diversity. I am ashamed to say I do not have a single black employee who is at Director level or above. Our product is euro-centric but must expand to be inclusive and equitable. We absolutely have the potential to be better. Despite our efforts, I have to honestly say that we are also part of the problem.
I'm holding myself accountable. I'm holding 23andMe accountable. And I'm asking that our customers hold us accountable. This will include making sure that we change our hiring practices, that we make sure we give greater promotional opportunities within the company, that we dedicate resources to evolve our product to better represent all communities and that my management team and Board have more inclusive representation.
George Floyd and many others in the black community died an unjust and tragic death. I send my deepest sympathy to the families, friends and communities that are grieving. We regrettably cannot change the past but I can certainly learn from this and will do everything I can to be part of changing the future.
CEO and Co-founder, 23andMe