Historically, ABL has chosen not to publicly engage in politics or make any political statements. Our ethical obligation is to represent each client — no matter who they are — to the best of our ability, and we do not want political statements to imply that our zealous representation may not apply equally to each person and business we represent. Because of this, ABL will continue to maintain a politically neutral stance as a firm and while we encourage our employees to politically engage outside of work.
The following, however, is not a political statement. Injustices are being done, and have been done for decades, against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in this country, and we feel it is time to make our feelings known. In the work we do with small businesses, we see these injustices daily.
This is not a political statement because the pursuit of human rights is not politics. Racism is not politics. Justice is not politics. And we at ABL want to make a public commitment to the concrete actions we’re taking, and promises we’re making, to be part of the change that needs to happen in this country.
Here are our commitments:
- At least 50% of all pro bono work we provide will go to Black entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs of color.
- By the end of 2020, we will design and implement an internal firm-wide Social Justice program which will encourage, and compensate, employees for engaging in Social Justice activities. The program will include, but will not be limited to, flex hours and compensation for education, volunteer work, and activism for positive change.
- We will immediately audit all of our expenses, and determine which expenses can be changed in order to support Black, Indigenous, and People-of-Color (BIPOC) owned businesses. We commit to putting additional time into actively seeking out BIPOC-owned businesses to build relationships with, buy products and services from, and refer our clients to. We commit to putting additional time into actively seeking out diverse team members as we hire. We will assess our budget quarterly, and commit to a long-term goal (2-3 years) of ensuring at least 20% of our expense budget goes toward BIPOC employee salary, external expenses, and community support.
- We will commit time and resources to building relationships with the BIPOC entrepreneur community and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. We will publicly acknowledge and condemn the injustices built into corporate America, such as unequal access to capital, unfair hiring practices, and lack of hiring opportunities for people who have been convicted of crimes. We will create opportunities to listen to what the community truly needs. We will commit time and money toward rectifying those injustices and satisfying those needs. We will review these actions and re-commit quarterly.
- We have created an internal Social Justice Committee that will meet at least quarterly to ensure that we are meeting our commitments. We will discuss and re-affirm our shared commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism inside and outside of our company. We will discuss and re-affirm our commitment to open conflict and productive discomfort within the team. We will discuss and re-affirm our commitment to engage in collective anti-racist education. We will identify concrete action we can take, time we can dedicate, and money we will spend daily, monthly, and quarterly to further these values and commitments. We will focus on action, not intent.
We know we will mess up. We will sometimes say the wrong thing. We will sometimes speak when we should listen, or listen when we should speak. We will sometimes miss a blind spot, or take the path of least resistance, or fail to recognize our privilege. But we commit to listening when we do mess up, and thanking those who have taken the time to tell us. We commit to action, even in the face of fear of messing up. And we commit to never stop trying, and never stop learning.