Reassessing Our Mission in the Context of Systemic Racism

Over the last week, our hearts have been broken for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and for others who have suffered from police brutality, as well as for their families and the black community as a whole. Like others before us have said, we too say:

Black Lives Matter.

The recent protests have humbled us to revisit our core mission: to democratize manufacturing and empower people to be problem solvers for their communities. A 3D printer is a tool that enables this, and our community has awed us – especially during the COVID-19 crisis – by proving that, when given the means to make anything you can imagine, people will create for others, problem solve for others, and 3D print with purpose.

We are using the current dialogue as an opportunity to critically assess how we can better accomplish our core mission to empower people through 3D printing while also taking active steps to include those who have historically been excluded from formalized innovation, entrepreneurship, and education spaces. As a small company with employees from a variety of diverse backgrounds, we recognize that we still skew predominantly white. We are also part of the tech sector, a community whose demographics are changing, but still look predominantly white, male, and monied. We believe active – not passive – inclusion is how we transform these spaces to be more welcoming and equitable for all. And that firmly includes the black community.

re:3D will take the following steps:

We will increase our efforts to amplify the voices of diverse leaders in 3D printing and STEM fields. Not just people who use Gigabots, but people whose work broadens our collective understanding of for whom and what this technology is used. These voices are out there and deserve to be amplified so our youth can see themselves in the faces of leaders.

We will also increase our efforts to give students – especially minorities – access to this technology. We believe in enabling the next generation of change-makers who will move additive manufacturing to the next level. For resources, consider the paper: Making Through the Lens of Culture and Power: Towards Transformative Visions for Educational Equality by Shirin Vossoughi, Paula Hooper, and Meg Escudé, as well as the initiative 0Things by Josh Ajima with DesignMakeTeach.

We will be more intentional in our hiring process. We are a small company in a new field, but we have big dreams, and we want to be a company full of diverse dreamers. By advertising jobs and internships in places where diverse communities live and study, and by having open, honest, and fair interview processes, we can increase the diverse voices in the company. We believe this can only help us grow our mission and broaden our work. If our mission aligns with yours, please visit re3d.org/careers. We’d love to have you.

Internally, we will continue developing company culture to include conversations about diversity, race, privilege, and social justice in order to dismantle our own subconscious prejudices. This is so we go out into the world with a greater understanding, empathy, and sensitivity to racism in our country. We do this work so we can be the allies we want to be, both inside and outside of work.

We are indebted and grateful to the protestors for putting their safety at risk to blast the message of equality towards the forefront of our minds. And when the protests fade from the spotlight, we will not forget how they brought focus to not just recent examples of police brutality, but also to the overarching issues of systemic racism. We don’t want to be just reactionary; we want our efforts to be long-term, with the goal of creating lasting change.

We’d love your feedback and collaboration. Feel free to reach out if you or someone you know is a diverse leader who we can learn from, partner with, and amplify. Send us a message at info@re3d.org.

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