February, Black History Month in the United States, is a time to celebrate the cultural figures who have shaped our world. In addition to the month of celebrations and acknowledgments, it serves as a reminder to educate ourselves on the issues facing the Black community, and take actions to contribute to necessary changes to promote equality, justice, and unity.
This year, New Relic celebrated Black History Month with the theme of Black U.N.I.T.Y.. a theme selected by our Black Relics affinity group.
Our month-long celebrations will center around:
- Celebrating Uniqueness
- Building Networks
- Valuing Inclusion
- Honoring Tradition
- Being the best YOU
Our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team is working diligently to support all the incredible efforts of our Relics of Color employee resource group, and our Black Relics and Black Girl Magic affinity groups. Our team wants to share our reflections on U.N.I.T.Y. with our communities outside of New Relic.
We understand the power of and the beauty in uniqueness. Yet we often hear discussions about Black people as a monolith. The broadness of the African Diaspora shows us that Black people as a whole community are not one thing, one type, or even one shape. There is more depth than what we see on the surface. While there may be common cultural threads that create some shared experiences, each and every Black person is unique. This immense gradient of uniqueness should be recognized and celebrated every day.
Our Relics of Color employee resource group provides the space at New Relic for Black Relics, and others, to bring this uniqueness to the forefront. They plan company-wide programming inviting allies to join in educational discussions and presentations in healthy ways. Daily prompts in our digital Slack channels on “this or that” give an opportunity to share our individual experiences and preferences, and great debates teach us that while we are a united community our differences give depth to who we are. Most importantly, our Relics of Color host cultivated opportunities for Black Relics to bring their unique identities to work in safe, affirming spaces.
The networks of support we build are more important now than ever before and are critical both inside our work environments and external to them. The network is there to step in and be whatever, whenever.
We’re grateful that the networks developed by our Black Relics have created a deeper sense of belonging. In fact, our Black Girl Magic group designs experiences for members around the world to build community, support, and connection. A group representative of different professions, backgrounds, and ages, this network of members has shown up for one another in times of crisis and celebration.
New Relic also sponsored the attendance of more than 50 Relics at AfroTech in Austin, TX, last year to further relationships between Relics as well as with Black people from across the tech industry. The invaluable moments during the conference, and following, served as catalysts for creating mentorship relationships, recruiting opportunities, motivation, and countless learnings.
Inclusion encourages safety and security among all people. It’s no surprise that the most innovative and empowered teams not only have diverse skills but are inclusive of the voices and contributions of each individual. We value inclusion at New Relic, which is how we’re getting closer to realizing our dreams of a better New Relic.
While we’ve seen milestones accomplished to ensure that people from marginalized and underrepresented communities are included in the opportunities afforded by the tech industry, there's so much more to do. We must continue to refine our practices of allyship in action and challenge ourselves to fight against biases that stand in the way of better, more inclusive practices.
We’ve all been somewhere where we felt like an outsider. It’s a horrible feeling that happens all too often to those who are underrepresented in the workplace. That’s why we work diligently to make Relics feel they belong here. It’s more than just a talking point for us, but a priority. We’re excited to continue to improve on our hiring processes, expand our recruiting efforts, and build upon the activities of employee resource groups at New Relic. It’s our belief that you are your best when you feel you are included and belong.
The power of honoring traditions among the Black community and across history will be some of the best features of Black History Month this year. For generations, history and traditions have been shared through various formats of communication like song, dance, text, and storytelling.
George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, once said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is especially true today as efforts are made all over the United States to hide the painful past of racism and discrimination committed against Black people. As DEI practitioners, the best way for us to honor traditions is to never stop telling the stories of tragedy, as much as we do the stories of triumph. History is what it is, and we should never try to change it, but instead, continue to learn from it.
At New Relic, one way we do this is by honoring the legacy of our own Mikey Butler, a former Relic and vice president of engineering. Mikey spent years championing innovation and sharing his experiences as a Black engineer in tech. He was among some of the pioneers of Black engineers to impact Silicon Valley in the early years of the internet. He paved the way for more people of color and women to have access to opportunities in technology around the world. Mikey knew the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion not just as a Black leader but as a global citizen who believed in the interconnectedness of people. Honoring Mikey’s story and influence is honoring Black history at New Relic. It’s a tradition we continue annually to remember his love of connecting through storytelling, dancing, music, and life.
Being the best YOU
Authenticity is one of five important core values at New Relic. Being able to show up fully as you are to share your greatest ideas and do your best work is not only key to inclusion and belonging, but is also a key driver of New Relic’s success. As DEI practitioners, we also understand that not all Black professionals have been afforded these freedoms in their careers. We’re looking forward to developing more opportunities and spaces at the tables where more Black professionals can freely share their authentic selves and deliver their best work.
We are excited about all the internal New Relic activities we’ve already had during Black History Month. We are especially proud of our LinkedIn Live event with Jermaine “The JobFather” Murray. Jermaine shared his goal of helping 500 Black people get jobs in tech, and we were excited to chat with him live about the Black experience at New Relic as well as some of the leadership roles available.
If you missed this LinkedIn Live event with Jermaine "The JobFather" Murray, check out this recording about New Relic and the Black Experience.
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