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A note from the DE&I team: Chris Clermont, Vox Media’s Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, looks back at Summer 2020

A personal and professional reflection on sustained actions to support Black employees

Last week, Vox Media Head of DE&I, Chris Clermont, shared a letter with Vox Media staff. We’re posting a version of it here, along with a roundup of actions that the company has taken in the past year to support employees. By sharing it with audiences, industry peers, and partners, we hope to build a record of our progress, and spotlight these important topics in our industry. Our work is never done and we will continuously strive to make Vox Media more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive.

Over the past year, since the sustained resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, you’ve heard from Jim [Bankoff, CEO & Vox Media co-founder] in several moments of acute crisis including with a note on how we took actions to support Black lives at Vox Media last June. We’ve also shared regular updates on our DE&I work in our monthly DE&I newsletters and in our Company All-Hands.

But here, I’d like to reflect on the last year by sharing my personal experience and how, with a specific focus on Black employees last summer, we have deepened, progressed, and expanded this work across identities – race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and people living with disabilities – at Vox Media.

I spent the majority of the last year in isolation with my dog, Zuko. For me, 2020 was defined by both this isolation and the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd by police officers on May 25th. I remember that day vividly – I had been out on PTO for the first time since joining the company in celebration of my birthday. The months that followed the cultural and social strain of the summer were both taxing and galvanizing for me – both personally and professionally – as I watched the United States grapple with the disproportionate impact of police violence against Black people, and the insurgence of hate crimes and violence against AAPI and other BIPOC-identifying and LGBTQ+ individuals.

At times, I had to set aside my own identity in the pursuit of greater inclusiveness. There were moments when I felt heartened by the outpouring of allyship, and moments when I questioned them. Importantly, and powerfully, it has also been a renaissance of self-discovery. A net positive of this reckoning for all of us, I hope, is that within and beyond our professional lives, we have spent more time listening to ourselves, taking care of ourselves, and setting boundaries.

I’ve always defined one’s sense of belonging as both intimate and fleeting; it’s a feeling we are all trying to sustain as long as humanly possible. The fertile foundation we’re building to make Vox Media more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive and to sustain this sense of belonging is both urgent and ongoing – as we continuously seek to be a place where journalists, storytellers, business professionals, creators, and technologists across all identities want to work and grow. Please read a few examples of this work below.

Be well,

Chris

A roundup of select actions taken to support employees

  • Celebrating and honoring Juneteenth, a company-wide holiday: In June, we will celebrate Pride and Juneteenth. Also known as Freedom Day, Juneteenth is a celebratory day and a meaningful anniversary, a time for all of us to reflect on where we were last year: where we have made progress, where we have fallen short, and where we are going. We will recognize Juneteenth with a slate of programming and a company-wide holiday on Friday, June 18th.
  • Community and well-being: So far this year we’ve recognized Black History Month, Women’s History Month, AAPI Heritage month, and Mental Health Awareness Month with internal and external panels in partnership with employee resource groups across the industry, being mindful that these celebrations and learnings are not limited to just a month in time. We also launched a “Time Capsule” project, creating a digital space for sharing our personal stories as a means of engaging and unifying our Vox Media community.
  • Ongoing partnership with MLT and a new program on Black equity: In 2019, we began partnering with MLT (Management Leadership for Tomorrow), a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming leadership pipelines and creating lasting change in companies, institutions, and communities. We’ve renewed our partnership as part of a program called Black Equity at Work, which is focused on the Black experience in workplaces. This work is aligned with our overarching multi-year DE&I strategy and will enhance other initiatives that support identities across Vox Media.
  • Leadership 1:1 program: We launched this program with executives and members of BOLD and HLX last summer, and we recently extended it to all of senior leadership and members of all seven of Vox Media’s ERGs, including our newest ERG, AXS, which supports people living with disabilities and chronic illness and their allies. The 1:1 program helps employees build relationships, better understand the company, get help navigating projects, and/or get additional career development support.
  • Strengthening our work, our company, and our industry: We again look forward to sponsoring the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association’s annual conventions. Additionally, continue to build out our Fellowship Program and the Vox Media Writers Workshop to help grow the next generation of talent and the Language, Please project to further develop style guidelines for our own and other newsrooms.
  • Advertising that gives back: The Revenue division continues two programs launched in 2020: a pro bono fund that gives services such as content production and advertising inventory to organizations dedicated to advancing racial justice and equity, and the Concert Equity Collective, a tool that enables brands to sponsor stories that impact communities of color and donates a portion of earnings to the ACLU.
  • Important resources that continue to be available: We have a professional development fund for Black employees, created in recognition of the unique barriers Black employees face in our industry; internal anti-racism resources crowd-sourced by our staff and featuring many pieces across Vox Media’s newsrooms and podcasts; regular support spaces and affinity for employees and mental health benefits.

Visit voxmedia.com to learn more about Vox Media’s DE&I strategy, recent company news, and careers.

Chris Clermont (He/Him) is the Head of DE&I at Vox Media, the leading modern media company, where he is pioneering efforts focused on building empathy, leading with authenticity, and enhancing inclusivity. Chris partners closely with executives and senior leaders across all departments at Vox Media to build a roadmap for accelerating and sustaining diversity, equity, inclusion at the company and in media.

For over 15 years, Chris has been supporting and advising private and public sector organizations in human capital disciplines, including diversity, inclusion, talent acquisition, organizational design, leadership development, culture, and change management. As Global Head of D&I, he oversaw inclusion and diversity vision, leadership, and strategy worldwide, while fostering an open culture for all employees to thrive. He’s helped create diverse and inclusive transformations for some of the world’s leading organizations, including Penn State University, BearingPoint, Inc., Deloitte, Dow Chemical, CA Technologies and WeWork. Chris lives in Brooklyn with his rescue dog Zuko.