An Open letter on diversity & Equity at Voicebox
Dear Voicebox Community,
Three weeks ago, we all watched a Black man die at the hands of police officers whose job was ostensibly to protect their fellow citizens.
Amidst the outpouring of outrage and pain, we made a statement voicing our firm support for the Black community and for our active participation in dismantling the systems of white supremacy in our society. We stated our commitment toward anti-racist action and accountability. We invited you to do the same.
Since then, have been taking stock of the state of our company: the welfare of our employees, our role in our communities, the mistakes we’ve made and the opportunities ahead of us.
What We’ve Learned
We’ve learned that the very existence of Voicebox Karaoke illustrates an unfair dichotomy that is all too prevalent in our culture: we are white-led company that wouldn’t have a product without the artistry, talent, and oppression of Black creators. And let’s not forget that karaoke itself is an Asian concept adopted in the United States.
Our Blind Spots
Recruiting: We have not diligently reached out to specifically recruit new team members from the BIPOC community.
Safety: One would think that our guests and employees would know that we have their back when a group of white people start throwing around the n-word while singing at the top of their lungs. But they don’t because we did not take the liberty to edit out slurs from our musical catalogue.
Inclusion: we have not deliberately communicated with, or advertised to, our diverse communities to let them know that they are welcome and safe and appreciated at Voicebox.
We want to publicly recognize these blind spots to create accountability. We see them and we commit to fixing them.
White society cannot continue to make our privileged affairs a priority over the suffering of our fellow Americans. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to operate and grow Voicebox while staying above the fray.
I am committed to keeping our eyes open to face hard truths and to do better by everyone. And our leadership commits to the same.
Actions we are Taking
Comprehensive DEISJ Ecosystem
Our primary action is to implement a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Social Justice (DEISJ) program throughout Voicebox and our affiliates. The goal is that every function in the company infuses DEISJ into its work, inherently.
To fulfill this commitment, we will hire professional experts from the Black community who are experienced in guiding organizations through this process to create systemic, long-term change. The process will involve input from all levels of the organization as we together design the culture of diversity we want to see at Voicebox.
As the Comprehensive DEISJ program develops, we are also taking these immediate actions:
- We are reviewing the use of hateful and slur words in our song library and discussing how they impact a safe and comfortable environment for our entire community of staff and guests.
- We are conducting a complete overhaul of our marketing and recruiting programs with an emphasis on reaching and inviting participation from diverse communities.
- We will declare our stance on anti-racism and diversity publicly on our storefronts and website.
- We have declared Juneteenth a company holiday and are giving every employee a day of PTO they can use on that day or any other.
- We are having an open and robust discussion of these difficult topics internally. These discussions have already affected how we plan and communicate and I encourage all of our team members to join the conversation, either publicly or privately.
It has been both a challenge and massive point of pride to hear the voices of our employees calling me out, calling the company out and taking the lead in keeping all of us accountable. We know that was emotional labor that comes at a personal expense.
Our amazing team members have the largest hearts I have ever encountered. They feel the joy that Voicebox has brought to guests, and they equally feel the pain of the communities and individuals that we’ve not served well..
To everyone who works at Voicebox, I say: You are an honor and you humble me. I promise to keep working to serve you better and to lead Voicebox to live up to the hopes you have for us.
We do not want to be on this journey alone. We will gladly lead, but we would rather run in a pack.
If you are inspired but uncertain, please reach out and I will support you. If you are jumping in, please reach out so we can share our lessons.
It may be daunting, but we will make our work and this world a better place because we’ll be doing it together.
CEO, President and Founder