Employees of Social Change Nonprofit Stage Walkout to Protest 'Racial Abuse'

Amid accusations of racial abuse and toxic work culture at the tech non-profit DoSomething, twenty-four employees began a work stoppage on Tuesday, saying they will not resume work until CEO Aria Finger resigns.
September 8, 2020, 2:21pm
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DoSomething

Employees of the nonprofit DoSomething, which markets itself as "the largest tech company exclusively for youth and social change," are walking out today in light of allegations of racial abuse and toxic work culture at the company.

As of early Tuesday, 24 of the company's 50 staffers said they would halt work until CEO Aria Finger resigns from her position.

"As a collective staff, participation in the walk out is in solidarity with the current and former BIPOC employees, largely Black women, who have endured racial abuse for far too long," workers wrote in a press statement.

DoSomething, one of the largest non-profit organizations focused on empowering young people to fight for social justice, has led many national campaigns both online and offline, including a push for Apple to diversify emojis, distributing Kotex period products to women experiencing domestic violence, and a massive voter registration drive, which has registered 130,000 voters in 2020.

In June, former Black and BIPOC DoSomething employees tweeted about discrimination they experienced at the company under its previous CEO Nancy Lublin. The tweets led the company's board to call on current CEO Aria Finger, who has worked at the company for 15 years, to take a leave of absence, and led to an independent legal investigation that determined there hasn't been explicit bias or discriminatory intent during Finger's tenure. Finger resumed her role at the company on August 17, and employees are now calling for her resignation.

"It's disheartening that DoSomething doesn't value BIPOC and perpetuates harm," Tej Gokhale, Civic Action Lead at Do Something, told Motherboard. "I've been sexually assaulted and tokenized and forced to drink when I was underage. We're not a generation that will accept that. That's not who Gen Z is."

On Tuesday, Gokhale, who is 21, tweeted about his alleged assault when he was 19 at a company-wide retreat and being asked by a manager to take a shot in the middle of the workday in order to "reset" their relationship.

Another current employee who is Black and wished to remain anonymous because she feared retaliation from management told Motherboard that they are walking out and demanding Finger's resignation as a last resort of action.

"When Black women forward and say the circumstances create hostility for Black women who have had their careers stalled, I believe them," they said. "This walkout is a last ditch effort. People have sincerely tried to have conversations to resolve these problems. I stand with staff members who are working to make it a more equitable workplace but feel they can't do that under Aria's leadership."

In June, employees at the Crisis Text Line, a sister organization of DoSomething which won a multi-million dollar from TED's Audacious Project, spoke to the Verge about a pattern of racial insensitivity at the company, under former DoSomething CEO Lublin's leadership. On Twitter, employees called out the company and Lublin.

Current employees of DoSomething will also be calling out DoSomething today on Twitter and sending two letters addressed to Finger and DoSomething's board of directors, one from younger staffers and another from those over 25.

"This is not a witch hunt," younger staffers wrote in their letter referring to their call for Finger's resignation. "This is not 'cancel culture' at work. This will not alleviate all of the long-standing and deep-rooted issues at this organization. But protecting the organization that we so deeply believe in means not enabling harmful leaders under a cult of personality and forfeiting our rights to a safe and empowering workplace in the process. We deserve more, and the young people who look to us for guidance and representation deserve more."