The Journey Forward: Our Progress Towards Racial Justice and Equity
Two years ago, the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black Americans ignited nationwide protests and demands for change. In response, we affirmed our commitment to investing in our Black colleagues and communities and other systemically marginalized communities. When we made this pledge, we also promised to remain transparent and accountable for driving tangible change. Read on for a clear list of what Okta, our employees, and nonprofit partners have done to move this work forward.
Our update on Okta's 3-year, $3M racial justice philanthropy commitment
Okta’s leaders and employees are not solely interested in what we can do internally at Okta: we wish to empower our communities to drive systemic change. As part of that effort, we have committed $2.9M to date, toward our $3M commitment to advance racial justice and equity. This includes funding from Okta for Good and from Okta’s co-founders, Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest. We all recognize that systemic change is best advanced when it is informed and guided by the individuals, communities, and nonprofit organizations closest to the issues we’re striving to address.
Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve accomplished so far:
- Employees: In 2020 we launched our Racial Justice and Equity Employee Advisory Board, a group of employee leaders from our People of Collective Cultures (POCC) Employee Resources Group who partner with Okta for Good and our Diversity Inclusion and Belonging teams to deploy funds towards our three-year commitment. Through an intentional journey of learning, listening, diligence, decision-making, and engagement, these leaders have helped drive focus on our racial justice and equity philanthropy work.
- Nonprofit organizations: Our strategic areas of focus for our racial justice and equity philanthropy are Educational Equality and Voting Access, Rights, and Education. We are committed to trust-based philanthropy principles, providing unrestricted and multi-year support to our partners, enabling them the flexibility to drive critical program and service delivery. To that end, we’re focused on supporting a diverse set of approaches to enable and strengthen racial justice and equity in our communities. Examples include
- Communities: Without a racial equity lens, philanthropy cannot address important social problems like access to opportunity, systemic inequalities, or climate change. Learning from movement leaders has helped us unlock important insights to drive our work moving forward. We’ve invested in five leaders with a long track record and commitment to this work including Asian Pacific Fund, First Nations Development Institute, Latino Community Foundation, PolicyLink, and The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Additionally, our grantees have provided perspectives that have informed our climate work and our intent to fund more leaders of color.
Our ongoing efforts to create and sustain diversity, inclusion, and belonging
Although resources are important, the road toward racial and social justice requires more than financial assets. It necessitates new ways of thinking, with a diverse pool of community change-makers. Here are a few ways we’re investing in a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging:
- Coqual Black Equity Index: along with many other companies, Okta + Auth0 pledged money to support the launch of the BEI, an initiative for organizations like ours to measure Black talent and racial equity in the workplace, informed by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practitioners.
- Community building events: The People of Collective Cultures (POCC) ERG is launching a learning and discussion series around the Netflix documentary series, Amend: The Fight for America. This watch party, educational workshop, and facilitated discussion are open to everyone at Okta.
- The Juneteenth holiday: In response to employee feedback, we updated our Okta Total Rewards to include Juneteenth as an official US holiday, to cherish Black achievements and culture, educate ourselves, and take collective action as an organization.
- Workforce development programs: We continue to develop tech talent in underrepresented communities, with a special focus on BIPOC talent, through our workforce development programs like the Equity Accelerator program and Opportunity Youth Internship programs.
- Facilitated DIB discussions: The DIB team prepares regular sessions for teams on a variety of different topics (e.g., Black health and wellness, moving from dialogue to action, API history, neurodiversity, and the future of work).
- Building balanced teams: At Okta, we are committed to building balanced teams in partnership with strategic sourcing organizations like the Black Professionals in Tech Network.
What we've learned
Racial injustice and inequity are complex and pervasive issues, requiring an evolving set of dynamic solutions. Since 2020, we’ve learned that collaboration is paramount and that effective solutions cannot be developed in a vacuum.
Okta holds steadfast in our commitment to racial justice and equity and is in it for the long haul. We believe that only through leveraging our unique identities, histories, and perspectives can we drive lasting change in our communities. It’s the only way to truly amplify and deepen our impact.
We invite you to learn more about our journey and look forward to sharing more updates and insights in the coming months. In the meantime, we encourage our industry to continue listening, learning, and thinking deeply about the equitable communities we can create, not only now, but for future generations.