By: Scott Holewinski, CEO
Compared to large multinational companies and brands, Tetra Defense is a small technology company that operates in relative anonymity. We don’t have news outlets or millions of customers waiting to see how we will respond to the systemic racism and social injustice leading up to, and the protests and violence coming in the wake of, the horrific murder of George Floyd. Realistically we could feasibly sit idly by, say and do nothing, and fly under the radar. Back to business as usual.
But now is not the time to be silent.
Scott Holewinski, CEO
Earlier this week I was helping my young daughter through her usual bedtime routine; colorful star lights shining down, covers drawn, ready to drift off to sleep. And I get this question, “Daddy, why were those people we saw today up by the Capitol so upset?” It’s a question that hits you squarely in the gut and in that moment, you realize that as the CEO of any company, large or small, and as a dad, everyone has the ability, and responsibility, to effect change. Even if that change only results in one person gaining a little more understanding and awareness of the opportunities, protections, and privileges some have that are far from universally granted to everyone.
I find myself in this endless cycle of emotions. Anger, frustration, helplessness, regret, coupled with feelings of hope, resolve, and the acknowledgment that we can do better. So many of us see what’s happening and while long overdue, have finally reached a point of “enough is enough.” But acknowledging the problem and taking action to address the problem are two different things, and knowing where to start and what will lead to real progress can be overwhelming.
I, and several on my team, have spent a lot of time reflecting on how we as an organization, and individuals can do better. While no excuse, we quickly realized that the hustle and bustle of a building a tech startup got in the way of establishing formal policies and initiatives to ensure that we are constantly considering and advocating for the advancement of people of color, especially in our industry.
While we may not have the massive platform and following that large enterprises possess, there is plenty we can do as an organization right now, and even more we can build towards moving forward.
While just the beginning, to start, Tetra’s immediate response will be four-fold:
- Formalize Our Diversity and Anti-Racism Policy
As a fast-growing tech company, there can be a tendency to have tunnel vision. Where will the next sale come from? Are there new partnerships we should be exploring? Are we delivering the absolute best product and service we can to our clients? Weeks turn into months turn into years. You take for granted that an organization that was once 5 people is now 50 and it may no longer be clear to everyone what our core values are. Diversity and the no-questions-asked condemnation of racism is incredibly important to the ownership and management group, but is that understood by the entire organization? In order to clearly state how vitally important this is, Tetra we will be formalizing our Diversity and Anti-Racism policy to be included in our employee handbook.
- Form a Diversity & Inclusion Sub-committee
As a cybersecurity company we understand full–well the importance of policies. We also know that without oversight policies are often forgotten and rarely followed. Tetra’s newly formed Diversity subcommittee will meet quarterly to discuss company-wide initiatives to ensure that our stance on policy goes beyond words on paper and becomes an integral part of our company’s DNA. Now, and in the future, we will always be asking “how can we do more?”
- Add Diversity to Our Core Company Values
From the get-go our team has always aimed to improve “how they’ve always done it” and I think that deep-rooted sense of knowing there is a better way, and advocating for that better way, applies to this as well. It is critically important for current and future team members to know that we recognize the injustice, that we become stronger with diversity and inclusion, and that we are firm enough in our convictions to say it out loud.
- Commit to an Annual Donation to Organizations Supporting People of Color in the Pursuit of Careers in Cybersecurity
In an effort to make a difference in our own industry, we commit to making an annual donation to organizations like the International Consortium Of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals, an organization that provides scholarships and training to prepare people of color for careers in our field.
We all know that change will not happen overnight and that equality for all may still take generations until its fully realized. We also know that there is only so much that we can do as an organization to move the ball forward, but that is not an excuse to throw up our hands and walk away. In our day-to-day business I’ve never heard a single Tetra team member tell me “Scott, this problem is too hard for us to tackle” and we are not about to say that now. There may be things that are out of our control, but there is plenty that is. The interactions and conversations we have with each other, our business practices, our hiring directives, and our community involvement can all be looked at through the lens of equality, inclusion and diversity.
Let’s start asking ourselves the tough questions and put our amazing talents to work answering them. Commit to this and Tetra will be better place for it. Besides, I need all the help I can get answering whatever my daughter is going to throw at me tonight.