By Glory Kim, Engineer
Before I joined Commure, I worked in the financial sector, where it felt taboo to discuss topics outside our day-to-day tasks and projects. My peers and I weren't encouraged to think about change and innovation, and the culture did not welcome internal organizing amongst employees, especially when it came to social issues and activism.
Commure is different.
Still, when news of George Floyd’s killing broke, I felt immobile. I knew I wanted to help in some way, but I didn’t know how. I’m an engineer; I’m not an activist. What can I do?
While my thoughts echoed my indignation and feelings of futility, I knew many of my teammates at Commure were likely feeling the same way. Throughout the day, I sparked conversations with my coworkers about the civil unrest and what we should all be doing as allies. These reflections caused us to take a step back and examine how our own workplace could cultivate an environment that truly supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
In our initial employee-led conversations, we discussed team diversity at Commure, our recruiting and hiring practices, and our desire for a sense of connection and support from our work community. Even as the discussions proceeded, I remained quiet and deep in my thoughts. This reaction likely stemmed from the culture of my previous company, where employees were not empowered to have a voice. In contrast to my prior experience, the culture at Commure is refreshing. With the community at Commure, I feel supported. And because of this support, I eventually grew comfortable enough to speak up and voice my opinions.
With my teammates, I shared my desire to find a way to provide financial support for various non-profit organizations working towards social justice and equality, such as the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP, and Black Girls Code. It was inspiring to see larger technology companies promote their own donation matching programs, which was something that Commure did not offer.
While many of us were already donating individually, I wanted to help amplify our impact and saw an opportunity to be a source of positive change. I drafted a message to send to the entire team, and after hours of nervously re-reading and editing, I announced to the entire company that while Commure did not currently have a donation matching program, I would personally match $1,500 in donations. I hoped my commitment to match their donations would motivate more of my teammates to contribute to the fight.
Within an hour, I received messages of support from teammates, who wanted to donate, and from my manager, who generously joined me by offering to match my own match. In only three days, we hit our match offer and raised over $6,000. But this was just the beginning.
Although we had hit the match amount, more employees wanted to expand our initial donation efforts. I received an empathetic call from our CEO, Brent, to discuss the possibilities. As a result, Commure implemented a donation matching program to benefit Black Lives Matter and other groups fighting systemic racism and police brutality.
In less than a month, we contributed over $68,0000, including Commure’s match donation. It’s astonishing to see that, together as a team, we were able to support 50 different non-profit organizations, such as The Bail Project and the ACLU.
We didn’t stop there. In addition to the financial support, Commure put actionable items into place to renew our commitment to diversity. We created a working group on hiring to improve recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes so that our team can grow to become reflective of the diverse population we serve. A community group was also created to provide an open space for communications regarding community engagement and social justice. This group has met bi-weekly for the past couple of months to discuss company changes and non-work related items. We also revived the Commure Book Club. Together, we have been reading and discussing books focused on social issues.
While I’m inspired everyday by my brilliant teammates and the work we do to create a better future for doctors and patients, what makes Commure such an incredible place to work is the support shown for employee-led initiatives. A great workplace values employees’ opinions, encourages them to speak out, listens to them, and is open to change. A great workplace gives you a purpose, not just a paycheck. By that yardstick, Commure undoubtedly measures up.