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ZBiotics Racial Justice Pledge

Our commitment to growing as an anti-racist organization


Systemic racism and social injustice remain critical challenges of our time and a threat to our future. It is clear today in 2020 that to create change requires concerted, direct, and sustained action at every level of society – corporate America included. At ZBiotics, we pledge to do our part and to ensure that ZBiotics continues to grow as an anti-racist organization. To that end, we commit ourselves to the following program.

1. Commitment to Action
2. Commitment to Amplifying Black Voices
3. Commitment to Education
4. Commitment to Diversity

We are a small team. Our company is brand new. While it can sometimes feel like the potential impact of our actions is smaller than that of larger corporations, this work is deeply meaningful and important to us.

And it’s precisely because we are in the early stages that action now is so important. By laying a strong foundation today, we will make sure we grow the right way tomorrow. We are doing this publicly because we hope to inspire other organizations in our community – big and small – to act as well.

1. Commitment to Action

ZBiotics will perform ongoing, concrete actions in an effort to combat systemic racism and social injustice. These include the following:

ZBiotics company donations

ZBiotics will contribute every year to organizations and programs working for racial and social justice. This year, we made donations to People’s Breakfast Oakland and Campaign Zero.

Employee donation-matching program

ZBiotics will match ZBiotics employee donations to organizations or causes related to racial and social justice. 

Quarterly events for racial and social justice

ZBiotics will coordinate for its employees at least one racial/social justice-related event during working hours per quarter. These events can include but are not limited to volunteering, symposia, employee education, discussion of current events and issues, and digestion of relevant media (e.g. documentaries, movies, articles and research, etc.). Requirements for these quarterly activities are:

  • Volunteer-action event: At least one quarterly event will be a volunteer-action event for all employees to participate in dedicated to racial and social justice.
  • Employee education event: At least one quarterly event will be dedicated to employee education around racial and social justice.
  • Individual/small group working days: At least two quarterly events will include 4+ hours of working time dedicated to individual/small group work on issues of racial and social justice. This work will be self-determined by employees, and can take many forms (e.g., reading articles, crafting/signing petitions, researching minority-owned businesses, minority talent research, etc.).
Company activity for racial and social justice

ZBiotics as a company will participate in at least one company activity dedicated to racial and social justice. This is distinct in that it will not be the action of individuals within the company, but the company itself. Examples include career development/training programs (e.g. Code2040); sponsorship/leadership in a science fair in an underserved community; contribution of materials, know-how, training to youth education programs in underserved communities; etc.

2. Commitment to Amplifying Black Voices

ZBiotics and everyone on our team are members of the science, startup, and tech communities – communities which continue to suffer from an underrepresentation of Black members and a consequential lack of or silencing of Black voices. We commit to amplifying Black voices and causes in these fields and others by taking the following steps:

Amplifying Black voices on ZBiotics social channels

ZBiotics will regularly celebrate Black scientists, technologists, artists, and thinkers by reposting or highlighting Black voices on our social channels.

Joining organizations fighting for racial justice

We have joined the following organizations (either as a company or in an individual capacity as appropriate). We will continue to support and amplify the work of these and other organizations fighting for racial justice:

Black Tech for Black Lives Ally for Racial Equality and Healing Black Lives Matter Color of Change Coming to the Table
Vocalizing issues in our communities

ZBiotics commits to calling out systemic racism and being vocal about opportunities for change within our communities, specifically within: science, tech, synthetic biology, and startups.

Public stance against racism

To ensure that we are acting publicly in the short-term, ZBiotics is publishing this blog post highlighting the steps we are taking now. Within 1 month of this post, ZBiotics will transition this into a standalone web page on that highlights ZBiotics’ policies, ongoing efforts to combat systemic racism, and content amplifying Black voices in our communities.

3. Commitment to Education

We are a science company and, in part, that means we acknowledge what we don't know. It is part of our culture to ask questions and challenge our own assumptions. We recognize, therefore, that working to fight systemic racism and social injustice requires us to be continuously educating ourselves. There will always be more to learn, and we commit to making continuous education on these issues a cornerstone of being a member of the ZBiotics team.

Monthly internal racial equity and justice newsletter

Program leaders will send out a monthly internal email newsletter covering the topic of racial justice and passing on opportunities to volunteer, articles on current events, notes on issues, profiles of Black scientists, and more.

Annual employee education event, led by an expert

ZBiotics team-members will participate in at least one event per year dedicated to employee education specifically about racial justice, led by an expert. This will be held during work hours.

Annual anti-bias training

All team-members of ZBiotics will participate in annual anti-bias training, led by a professional. This will be held during work hours and will include a focus on examples and investigating our own biases.

4. Commitment to Diversity

ZBiotics is committed to building a workforce, vendor network, leadership team, and board of directors that reflect our community. At this stage of the company and in the next year, when we likely will only be hiring a few people at most, we will prioritize seeding the company with diversity – especially in leadership – to ensure a foundation that puts us in the best position to build a diverse company long-term. With this in mind, we commit to:

Hiring guidance

We will develop a hiring guidance process that actively works to counteract any unintentional or intentional bias in our hiring practices. This process will include requirements for candidate sourcing to ensure Black candidates are entering the interview pipeline, checks on “gut” decisions easily driven by bias, and objective rubrics making sure that all decisions are based on substantive reasons uninfluenced by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or culture.

Vendor selection guidance

We will develop a vendor selection process that actively works to counteract any unintentional or intentional bias in the selection of our business partners. Similar to hiring guidance, this process will include requirements about how vendors are sourced, considered, dismissed, and selected to avoid bias and promote the patronage of businesses run by and made up of people of color.

New employee pledge

All new employees will sign a pledge related to ZBiotics’ policies around diversity and inclusion as part of their employment. This serves both to clearly state expectations at the outset of employment and to create an environment where employees feel safe and empowered to advocate for better and more inclusive practices.

Pledge Leadership

To ensure ZBiotics lives up to the commitments outlined in this pledge, co-founders Zack Abbott and Stephen Lamb will split the role of pledge leader for this year and have tasked employees and leadership to hold them accountable through real-time feedback.

One year from now – and every year thereafter – we will hold an internal company leadership meeting to evaluate the pledge, take stock of progress, and determine who will be pledge leader(s) for the next year. The pledge leaders will prepare a report summarizing the efforts of the past year and recommendations for the next year and deliver that report to the leadership meeting.