Audible founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz shared the following statement with employees in a global note.
On behalf of our Black Employee Network leadership team and the many Black and Brown members of the Audible family who contributed to our shared contemplations and discussions about racism since George Floyd’s murder on May 25 — a month of shared pain, outrage and personal introspection — I am proud to share the following.
This is a work in progress, as the horrific uniformed violence that catalyzed these conversations was born of a deeply embedded racism that has categorically undermined equality for Black Americans for centuries. You can find my note on this earlier this month here.
Below is our action plan, though this is only the beginning of our effort to come together as a company to address this dark historical juncture.
We are committed to these actions:
Content: At a time of profound societal and moral crisis, our most important voice — our most powerful means of empowering change across our fundamental institutions and the ideas that underpin them — is our content and the way we convey words and voices to millions of listeners. To harness this power, we are using our editorial voice to highlight Black voices. For a “Voices of Audible” editorial effort, we will pass the mic to Black Audible colleagues. We have already prominently featured a powerful list of antiracism listens and are donating our profits from the US sales of those titles from June 9-30 to Newark Working Kitchens (NWK), up to $250,000 (more on NWK below). We are offering stories featuring strong Black and Brown characters, works by diverse authors and antiracism titles to ~85,000 public school students around the country free through Audible for Schools and we intend to add many of those titles to stories.audible.com, our free service for young listeners. We will continue to elevate our collection of literary and Audible Originals stories by diverse authors, featuring a wide range of perspectives. And we will continue to surface the hundreds of historical titles focusing on the American experience of slavery and Reconstruction, where the modern reality of deeply ingrained and legalized racism was designed, ordained, and then perpetuated by the political and judicial order.
Newark: We will escalate our longstanding commitment to creating opportunity and redressing inequality in our hometown, including our paid internships for Newark high school students and Audible Scholars program, hiring locally and providing Newark high school students free access to Audible. We will double down on Newark Working Kitchens, an Audible-funded pandemic response that has delivered thousands of meals to low-income Newark seniors and families by activating community restaurants, keeping cooks, dishwashers, servers and delivery people employed with a focus on empowering Black-owned businesses and their employees. We will also continue to increase opportunity in the city through Newark Venture Partners, an Audible-founded venture capital firm bringing high-tech startups to the city. A majority of NVP’s investments are early-stage companies founded by women or people of color, including MoCaFi, which delivers banking and financial wellness for the underbanked, and MindRight, which offers behavioral health services for underrepresented communities.
Policy: We will actively support national efforts on police reform, including enactment of the meaningful steps proposed in the Justice in Policing Act, introduced by our New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; the clarity of purpose and impact of the 8 Can’t Wait policies to reduce police violence; and the recommendations of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ 2019 report. We will support the immediate steps taken by Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka to accelerate community-based anti-violence initiatives. We will also support our New Jersey Institute for Social Justice allies’ calls “to seal social safety net fractures and build reparative systems, policies, and practices that create access to work and wealth, transform justice, and harness democratic power for low income and people of color in New Jersey.”
Donations: We will financially support organizations selected by our Black Employee Network that can measurably improve racial justice and equity — beginning with the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Bail Out collective and Newark’s Project Ready. We will also make a new grant on BEN’s behalf to Newark Working Kitchens’ around-the-clock effort to save vulnerable jobs and vulnerable people’s basic right to have enough to eat.
People: As Audible has welcomed many of the most powerful voices from the Black professional creative class over many years, we will double down on our efforts to continuously attract and develop Black talent at all levels, including leadership. Each employee globally is deputized to make this effort real.
Onward to a better world.