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This is Only the Beginning: A Letter to the Kairos Community

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When we commit to something, we make it happen. We came out in 2017 and said we would refocus the business world on real problems that impact “the 99%” in America, like lack of access to homeownership, the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, and the absurdity of the security deposit. Our mission has always been about harnessing entrepreneurship to increase economic equality and empower people to live their best lives.

With that in mind, we at Kairos HQ recognize our responsibility to do better in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ve always operated with conviction that the work we’re doing is lifting people up from all walks of life. We want to act and lead, to be bold and propose viable solutions. Yet, we’ve never publicly initiated conversation or called out how the issues we’re pursuing uniquely affect the Black community.

We’re all about standing up to the man when the system has fucked up, but we have failed to do so in regards to the centuries of injustice that Black people have experienced in our country.

We started diving in:

Inequality Stat 1 Inequality Stat 2 Inequality Stat 3

  • The current 30-percentage-point gap between Black and White homeownership is larger than it was in 1968, when housing discrimination was legal.
  • In 1968, just after the civil rights movement, the median Black family income was 57 percent of the median White family income. In 2016, the ratio was 56 percent.
  • In 2018, median Black wages were 73.3 percent of White wages.

So now we’re left wondering, how have we let this happen?

Times like these force us to look in the mirror, ask if we’re doing enough, and further define what change we care about driving as a company. It’s easy to join the conversation about racial inequality now, but it’s hard to do the work.

Our goal in the coming days, months, and years will be to educate ourselves both on the systemic racism that has plagued our country for hundreds of years and the resulting ways that Black people have disproportionately shouldered the burden of economic inequality.

But we also need to act, building lasting change into our company processes and not just our marketing. As a team, we are over 50% women, but we have no Black people in leadership. This is unacceptable, and we know it.

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Every member of the Kairos HQ team has donated to Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country. We encourage you to do what you can to help, and if that means donating as well, you can do so here.
  • We assembled an internal committee of employees from across the Kairos family to take inventory on our recruiting, branding, and product development with the intent of diversifying our workplace and changing the way we think about explicit and implicit racism in our business decisions.
  • This will include upskilling our current workforce on the unconscious bias that each of us have and ensuring that we are constantly advocating for equality of all people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual-orientation. The diversity of our team has been and will continue to be a key driver of our success.
  • We are prioritizing research & resources that uncover the ways in which systemic racism contributes to the economic inequality faced by the Black community, as well as amplifying the voices of Black leaders working to fix it.

For any that are looking to learn with us: We’re excited to share our journey with you along the way — whether it’s non-profits for you to donate to, interviews with experts from our community, Black voices from our network, or more information with which to arm yourselves and your friends.

It’s our responsibility to improve a status quo that was built to serve only white (and affluent) people. This will be an uphill battle, but it is one that our generation has shown it is ready to fight regardless of the media cycle.

And for any that already know exactly what is like to be a Black person in America: We stand with you. And we look forward to working alongside you.

Update 12/16/20:

In the 6 months since we’ve published this letter, here’s what we’ve been working on:

  • Implicit Bias workshops across Kairos Family; All employees were invited to a series of 6 implicit bias workshops with an external DEI consultant. He helped us recognize the biases that we bring to the workplace everyday, and trained us to address them.
  • We have diversified our candidate pools and sourcing, and revamped our job descriptions to remove any biased language.
  • Rhino & Bilt have joined the Fintech Equality Coalition. We’re publicly acknowledging that there’s a divide in the Fintech space and we’re committing to closing that gap.
  • We are developing opportunities to highlight diverse voices within our family of companies at large. Additionally, we will be bringing in industry leaders to share their career journeys with our teams.
  • We are searching for organizations to volunteer with across the Kairos family to help give back to our community and expose more youth to venture capital and entrepreneurship at large.

We recognize that while these are positive steps, we still have a long way to go towards our goal of fighting racial inequality within our companies and industries. We will hold ourselves accountable to our family of employees and community as we continue this pursuit together.

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