Recommitting to Anti-racist Values

July 6, 2020  • Aspen Digital

At Aspen Digital, we work to ensure that technology and media are deployed to create an informed, just, and equitable society. It’s a lofty goal that we likely won’t accomplish in any of our lifetimes—but that won’t stop us from striving.

We embody this creed in a number of ways (e.g., through fellowships and initiatives to help diversify the tech pipeline and public programming that highlights inequities in tech access). We must do more to live these values if we are to make a real dent when it comes to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in these fields.

The murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis and, more broadly, the painful history of racism and police brutality in the U.S. have spurred an overdue reckoning with the representation of communities of color across all levels of industry.

We recommit to being part of the solution and pledge to take the following actions to ensure that our internal processes reflect an anti-racist posture and encourage an inclusive environment for all:

We will take concrete steps to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce for our program. This effort includes:
  • Securing a diverse pool of applicants for every open position before moving to selection.
  • Ensuring that all interviews for active hires follow the modified ‘Rooney Rule,’ which means interviewing at least one person of color and one person who identifies as an underrepresented gender (non-binary, transgender, women) as a finalist for each available position.
  • Maintaining a clear commitment to equal opportunity in our interviews and in the selection process for new hires. As part of this, we will set alternate criteria to education level and industry experience.
  • Working with other Aspen Institute programs to share lists of and purchase from vendors that are owned and/or run by people of color and people who identify as underrepresented genders.
We will work with our colleagues across the Aspen Institute to implement best practices in DEI. Our strategy includes:
  • Participating in the Institute’s DEI Committee and initiatives.
  • Learning from other Institute-led DEI efforts and cross-collaborating where we can.
  • Regularly participating in internal and external DEI-related training and education as a team. This will help us be inclusive in our hiring, be engaged allies, and promote a safe and inclusive environment from the top-down and bottom-up, among other goals.
We will bring together people from diverse backgrounds and experiences in our programming. The steps we will take include:
  • Ensuring that our roundtables and other private gatherings reflect the diversity of the U.S. This means that we aim to include at least 30% people of color and 50% people who identify as underrepresented genders.
  • Ensuring that our public events reflect “on-stage” the diversity of the U.S, meaning that we aim to 1) avoid all-white or all-men panels and 2) include at least 30% people of color and 50% people who identify as underrepresented genders over time.
  • (When applicable) Providing pre-readings from at least one writer of color and one person who identifies as underrepresented genders, as well as those from other diverse perspectives.
  • Exploring through our programmatic work and writing key topics regarding how race, technology, and national security intersect, and using our platforms to emphasize those stories.
We will promote a diversity of voices in our external communications. This includes:
  • Using social media to help elevate issues of diversity in technology and media and to help amplify communities of color.
  • Ensuring that the images and illustrations we use in our marketing materials represent people with a range of identities, including people of color.
  • Using inclusive tech language, such as “person-in-the-middle” attacks and “block list”/“allow list,” across all of our published writing. This also includes capitalizing Black when describing people and cultures of African origin.
In addition, we commit to doing meaningful, substantive work that illuminates intersections between race and technology. For instance:
  • We have begun collecting and maintaining a list of anti-racist pledges from U.S. tech and media companies.
  • We are supporting several Aspen Tech Policy Hub projects that tackle racism as it relates to technology in housing, education, and political participation.
  • For more than two years, through our Cybersecurity Group, we have studied and built a coalition of 30+ employers to help transform how the industry hires and upskills workers, with a primary goal of scaling best practices in DEI.
  • We are fundraising and hiring for the creation of a specific initiative that addresses race, gender, technology, and society.

There is much that remains to be done to ensure that Aspen Digital is truly diverse and inclusive across all of our workstreams, and we will put in the work to do our small part to make a difference. We will provide updates and maintain transparency. We will hold ourselves accountable.

The Aspen Digital Team

Aspen Digital empowers policy-makers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and media in the service of an informed, just, and equitable world. A program of the Aspen Institute, we shine a light on urgent global issues across cybersecurity, the information ecosystem,  emerging technology, tech policy, urban innovation, and the industry talent pipeline. We then turn ideas to action and develop human solutions to these digital challenges.