Introducing the Justice League: Verblio’s Efforts toward a More Inclusive World

Content is powerful.

If you fundamentally understand that every single time you press publish on a piece of content, that you’re influencing culture, then you have a better understanding of the power that you have.

Ross Simmonds, Episode 29 of The Verblio Show

As a content creation company, we take our role in the world very seriously. We know that every piece our customers publish will become part of the fabric of our society, with the potential to influence our actions and attitudes both for better and for worse.

Over the last year, our nation has learned just how far we have to go with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the midst of our outrage, however, opportunities have arisen that not only welcome our better efforts but demand them.

Here at Verblio (virtual) HQ, we are encouraged by the progress we and others have made towards a more inclusive society, and we are excited to take things even further as we continue growing. We highlight these actions now not because they are themselves enough to redress the problems in our country, or to pat ourselves on the back for our efforts. We highlight them in order to remain accountable moving forward, and to reiterate to our team, our customers, and our writers that Verblio will always stand on the side of justice and equity.

The Birth of the Justice League

While Verblio has always worked to promote diversity and inclusion in our team and in our services, we put real muscle behind these efforts with the formation of our own internal Justice League in June of 2020.

We’re working to define the action items Verblio can, and should, take to be actively anti-racist, amplify Black voices, reconstruct industry framework(s) and systems to be equitable and inclusive, and model for others how to effect positive change.

Verblio’s Justice League mission statement

With a group of members from across our various departments—including our CEO Steve Pockross—the Justice League meets bi-weekly to determine how Verblio can advance its commitment to equity both internally and externally.

The League’s first action? Establishing Juneteenth as a company-wide holiday. 

In light of recent events and the commitment we have made to our community and allies, I want to let you all know that Verblio will be closing our offices this Friday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth, in solidarity with our Black community. Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day) is a very important day in American history, dating back to 1865, when slaves were finally freed by federal decree in the last American slave state.

Today, Juneteenth is a remembrance and celebration of hard-fought Black freedom, culture, and community, and we feel that now, more than ever, it is important that we observe this day together. We know there is so much more work to do to support, appreciate, and fight for our Black communities and this is just the first step of many that we will be taking as a company.

Verblio’s announcement regarding Juneteenth

In the months since, the Justice League has spearheaded several other important changes in the way Verblio does business and engages with the world. From our writers and customers to our internal teams to the wider community, here are the steps we’ve already taken and the ones we’re excited about advancing further. 

Serving Our Writers and Customers

At Verblio, we are in the unique position of serving both our customers and our writer community. We have found ways to promote diversity and inclusion on both fronts:

  • Establishing a unique pool of writers for our customers that appeal specifically to Black audiences. In addition to providing more work for these writers, we are providing better content for our customers, thus proving our ability to reach those audiences and raising the likelihood of attracting more such customers in the future. 
  • Intentionally recruiting more writers of color, in particular by reaching out to a popular Facebook group of Black authors, writers, and poets
  • Offering Black-owned businesses 10 percent off six months of our service as new customers
  • Replacing the “gray man” default writer avatar with a visual that is more inclusive and on-brand
Our old writer avatar
Our new writer avatar

Initiatives within the Verblio Team

While we are proud of the efforts the Justice League has made with our writer community and business partners, we recognize that our commitment to equity and inclusion demands us to look inward, too. To that end, the Justice League has implemented a number of internal changes addressing our own team and work environment:

  • Created an internal WikiPage and #SocialJustice Slack channel as places for the entire company to provide valuable anti-racist resources and continue the hard conversations around diversity and inclusion
  • Incorporated a tool to ensure our platform code itself is anti-racist, including renaming our ‘master’ code branch to ‘main’
  • Codified our commitment to diversity in Verblio’s Core Values, where we are “loud, proud, and welcoming” with an emphasis on all voices being heard
  • Working with our HR team and executive coach Jodi Grossman to ensure all Verblions have a safe space to raise concerns when we as a company or individuals are missing the mark with regard to inclusion
  • Encouraging time off throughout the year to support the causes our team is passionate about, including Election Day

Moving forward, the Justice League is providing accountability for our entire corporate team as we work to ensure our actions are aligned with our intentions. We’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve as we navigate our way to a better world, together. 

Verblio in the World

We haven’t limited our efforts to our customers, our writers, and our internal team. The Justice League has been instrumental in taking our commitment to diversity beyond our business:

  • Taking advantage of the platform we have through our podcast and blog to contribute to the national conversation:
    • DEI expert Dr. Tolonda Tolbert shared her expertise around how we can build more inclusive practices into our company culture
    • Inclusive marketing strategist Lola Bakare taught us what inclusive marketing really looks like and how it benefits the bottom line
    • We published our own guide to deconstructing racist language, with the help of one of our talented Verblio writers
  • Multiplying our employees’ efforts by matching donations to social justice programs
  • Partnering with a Denver-based charitable organization that provides resources to single mothers of color. By offering our content creation services for free, we are helping to further their mission and expand their reach.

Justice League, Advance!

The road to a truly equitable society is long, and we have more steps we’re excited about taking in the coming months and years.

  • Producing an inclusivity style guide, which will be part of educating our writers and internal team on reducing bias in their writing
  • Adding race as an optional question for new writers to allow us to better match clients with writers who have the necessary background for the content they need
  • Helping other social justice organizations further their mission by offering our content creation services. (Know of any? Have them reach out to us at [email protected])
  • Building partnerships with HBCUs that will allow us to find new writers
  • Being intentional about our hiring practices and looking beyond our own networks to create a more diverse candidate pool

Finally, we will continue to focus on providing quality content and meeting our customers’ needs in the ever-changing world of marketing. We’re doing the right thing for you in addition to us, and together we can make real progress towards better opportunities for everyone.

Charlene Baker

Char Baker is an entrepreneur, content creator, and digital marketer at heart. Earning her degree from James Madison University (Go Dukes!) in Public Administration, Char had no intentions of pursuing a career in marketing or entrepreneurship. Yet, in 2009, she fell in love with the idea of blogging and using digital strategies to create a full-time income from her computer (plus, she's HubSpot Inbound Certified!). When she's not working or writing for Verblio, Char enjoys spending time with the hubby and two boys who are dedicated to keeping mommy busy! You'll also find her treating herself regularly to Maggiano's...and she welcomes any gift certificates.

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