As the chair of Mapbox’s Black Employees @ Mapbox (BE@M) Employee Resource Group, I wanted to share the many ways we celebrated and recognized Black history at Mapbox. Throughout February, we focused on highlighting the significant impact Black culture and Black excellence has had on our communities through conversations and events with our employees, allies, and customers.
Celebrate and recognize
As a company, we remain committed to diversity and inclusion for our global workforce. This includes raising awareness of the importance of allyship.
We kicked off Black History Month with an fireside chat with Sherika Ekpo focused on allyship. Sherika is the CEO and Founder of SEE Enterprises. Sherika designs and operationalizes global DEI strategies to drive bottom-line results. Over the course of her career, Sherika has led Human Resources, DE&I strategy, and Operations for organizations across industries and sectors including Google, Anaplan, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the White House.
Joining Sherika on the panel was Melissa Nixon, VP of People at Mapbox, and Garrett Miller, GM of Navigation. Sherika led us into the topics of passive and active allyship and leadership development. It was great to hear from our leaders on the importance and role of allyship within our company. They discussed how imperative allyship is in hiring, team building, performance management, and building cultural competence.
We also found time this month to celebrate Black culture and excellence through an employee trivia event hosted by Confetti. We tested our knowledge of Black inventors, historic moments, and contributions to American pop-culture.
This month, to further our commitment and understanding of the importance of capital in regards to equity, we also launched an internal donation matching campaign with Black Girls Code and North Star of GIS, given their missions related to providing resources for computer science and GIS education in the Black community.
Empowerment through mapping
At Mapbox, we love partnering with our customers and understanding how they are using our technology to create amazing experiences. We believe that mapping is a powerful tool that can be used for resistance and resilience. When used well and with intention, it has the potential to create positive change.
We partnered with NorthStar of GIS for their Conversations Starters event for Black History Month. NorthStar of GIS is a global movement working to create a more equitable, inclusive, and just world by empowering Black people and other marginalized communities with access to the full range of benefits from geoSTEM. Our conversation, ‘Empowerment through Mapping’, focused on a map's ability to empower civic engagement/policy, travel and business exploration, and community building. We were honored to have our customers Black & Abroad and the American Public Health Association (APHA), who empower communities using Mapbox technology, join the conversation.
Tia Williams Taylor from APHA presented a case study highlighting Milwaukee’s residential racial segregation and the Ending Racism map they worked with Mapbox to create. Racism was deemed a public health crisis there, and that led to local officials improving policies – to include an ordinance to improve public health to advance racial equity.
Black & Abroad founders, Eric Martin and Kent Johnson, discussed the process of developing the Black Elevation Map. They covered some lesser known history on the inspiration stemming from W.E.B. DuBois’ infographic/cartography work in the early 20th century and creating equitable solutions for Black-owned businesses who were facing operational challenges due to Covid-19 lockdowns. We also discussed map layering and APIs that could inform policy makers, urban planners, developers, and businesses of opportunities with crowdsourced efforts, and were galvanized by NorthStar of GIS approach of community involvement. Don’t take my word for it though, please watch the replay video to hear directly from the panelists.
Continuing the conversation
We know that celebration and recognition of our Black community does not end after February. We remain committed as a company and as an ERG to continuing the conversation and furthering diversity and inclusion across Mapbox, and navigation and mapping industries.