NATIONWIDE — In response to Zoom’s announcement that it would create the position of Chief Diversity Officer, a core demand in Color Of Change’s negotiations with the video conferencing company, and hire Damien Hooper-Campbell to fill the role, Color Of Change Campaign Director Jade Magnus Ogunnaike issued the following statement:
“Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer is an important first step, and reflects the impact of the thousands of Color Of Change members who demanded real reforms from Zoom after a spate of racist cyber terrorism threatened our safety online. But today’s announcement is just the beginning of a course-correction toward becoming a platform that actively protects Black people.
Our hope is that with the introduction of a Chief Diversity Officer, Zoom can move forward with a specific plan to combat racial harassment on the platform, offer a formal apology to victims, and implement a requirement that all users affirm a community commitment to keep the platform a safe space, regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. As work, education, and social gatherings remain online for the foreseeable future, Zoom must prioritize implementing corporate policies to combat harassment.”
On April 10, Color Of Change met with Lynn Haaland, Zoom’s Global Risk and Compliance Officer to discuss demands for a racial harassment policy to protect Black users and other vulnerable groups using the service.
Advocacy organizations that are clients of Zoom signed on to a letter from Color Of Change calling on the company to adopt the racial justice organization’s demands. Groups that have signed on include: Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Carbo Strategic Consulting; Coworker.org; Fix Democracy First; Free Press; Fight for the Future; Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda; Indivisible Kansas City; Media Democracy Fund; MediaJustice; Media Matters for America; MomsRising; Muslim Advocates; National Hispanic Media Coalition; National LGBTQ Task Force; Open MIC; Progressive Turnout Project;Public Knowledge; ReThink Media; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Wellspring Philanthropic Fund; and WITNESS.
Zoom’s response to attacks on Black users and users from vulnerable groups has indicated a glaring absence of attention to anti-harassment policies. The company initially tried to downplay the harassment, putting the onus on impacted users and referring to its guide on “party crashers” — rather than address that its own security failures led to the cyber attacks. Zoom has since changed the name of its guide, following the creation of a petition on Color Of Change’s member platform, Organize For.
Color Of Change has a long history of winning accountability on civil rights and racial justice policies from leading technology companies. The group has pushed Facebook to make its civil rights audit publicly available, drawn attention to Twitter, Google, and Facebook for the misinformation on their platforms, and succeeded in getting payment services to stop processing funding for white supremacists. Most recently, Color Of Change pressured major wedding planning platforms to stop promoting the romantic depictions of former slave plantations.