We Cannot Tolerate Intolerance

The events unfolding across the world, and particularly in the United States have made one thing clear: racism is everywhere. We stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism and white supremacy. Drawing inspiration from everyone around the world, using their voice and their platform to make a change, we want to make an impact in our industry. But we first have to start from within and make a change within our company to contribute meaningfully to the fight.

I shared this message on our internal Twist server earlier this week. “Fair and transparent” is one of Matchmade’s key values, so we decided to share the post publicly on our blog as well. It’s reproduced here in its entirety and only edited for formatting.

The world is a volatile place right now, and in many countries – like the US – there’s a real risk of the situation, the politics and the state apparatus quickly spinning out of control to a dangerous, dark place. We as a group of people and as individuals do not exist outside of the societies we live in, and we can’t pretend to be passive, unwilling passengers while the world goes off the rails. If you think this is hyperbole or that it doesn’t concern you: you’re wrong, and it’s time to wake up. Please take a moment to read this entire message, and understand that if you fundamentally disagree with it, Matchmade isn’t the right place for you.

The paradox of tolerance

The paradox of tolerance is that boundless tolerance of intolerance eventually leads to the disappearance of tolerance. Or in other words: giving full freedoms to people who want to take those freedoms away from others will eventually result in all of us losing them. The right to free speech cannot cover speech aiming to take away someone else’s right to free speech.

Understanding this concept and accepting it as true is fundamentally important in understanding and navigating events happening globally today. There are people in positions of power in all the countries we live in openly or covertly pushing the idea that not all people are equal and deserving of the same rights and respect. For us to give in and not actively fight their rhetoric would be an ignorant, evil act.

Everything is political

Our choices and actions at work don’t exist in a void outside of the “real world” – the things we do and say as individuals or as a company are real, they are political, and this will always be true whether we want it or not. We can, of course, choose to ignore this, or we can admit it but still choose not to choose at all – but these are the actions of cowards, and that’s not who we are.

We, as individuals, don’t agree on everything, and that’s great. Diversity of thoughts, opinions, experience and viewpoints is one of the things I love about this company, and it’s something I want to always encourage and expand. However, I want to make it extremely clear that this diversity can only exist when we draw a clear line at not tolerating intolerance.

This company is our platform. This company is political. Matchmade will always stand for social justice, inclusion and equality, and we will never tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or any other form of bigotry.

Privilege and ignorance

We are all privileged. People all over the world have lost their jobs, or are forced to go to work risking infection to pay the bills or to keep their health insurance. Black people in the US are being murdered by the police for the crime of having black skin. Regardless of your background and without belittling any hardship you’ve suffered in your life, let’s be clear: you are privileged because today you’re able to sit at home, sipping coffee and typing away on your MacBook Pro.

We are also all ignorant, but about different things. Growing up as a straight white male in Finland I was never the target of racism, sexism or homophobia. I never had to fear because of who I am. I most definitely subjected others to my bigotry without sometimes even understanding that I was doing it. We are all ignorant of things that fall outside of our upbringing, our education, our social context, and our life experience. There is a level of understanding of social issues that we should expect from each other, but more important than the question of “what are you ignorant about today” is the question of “do you choose to do something about it?”

Choosing to do something starts with owning your privilege and admitting your ignorance. If you’re not aware of what you have and what you take for granted, you’re blind to what others lack. There’s only shame in winning the global lottery if you choose to use your privilege to deny others the freedoms you take for granted. Similarly, there’s only shame in ignorance if you’ve chosen to stay ignorant. It is your duty, simply as a human being, to always listen, learn, and educate yourself. Being able to denounce your old beliefs and opinions because of a growing understanding of social issues is a sign of growth and strength, and something to be proud of.

You need to own your education. People who have suffered social injustice do not owe you anything – your personal growth is your own responsibility. If someone is willing to share their experience, listen and learn. If not, make no demands – there is an endless amount of information about social issues online if you choose to look for it. There are people like you who have walked the same path and can share their experiences. Oppressed people do not owe you an explanation, and they do not exist to make you feel better about yourself.

Being better is a path that you choose to follow every day. I’m still ignorant and I’m still prejudiced, but not nearly as much as the young man cracking socially insensitive jokes and enjoying the attention in Helsinki 20 years ago. It takes work to be a good person and you should be proud of every step you take.

In practice

It’s time to act, and I want it to be 100% clear that Matchmade as a company will not be quiet or complacent.

We will establish a clear code of conduct for all employees ensuring our day-to-day interactions are socially just and promoting inclusion, and we won’t hesitate to enforce it when needed.

We will be outspoken on social matters and we will take clear stances, publicly and visibly on our social media channels and elsewhere.

We will encourage active internal dialogue to make sure we all grow as individuals and as a group of people. We will respect different points of view, but we will never tolerate intolerance.

This is your call to action to use your voice and to use our voice as a company.

We are in the business of influence – let’s use the influence we have to do the right thing.