Last June, the Thorn team gathered on a video call to reflect. Our CEO had made the space, invited the entire company, and we all showed up. We are a team accustomed to facing difficult topics, but that only meant we knew to call the meeting, not that we knew what to do next.
When we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, Team Thorn reacted by looking inward – first to care for the people who make up our team, people who come to this work from a broad range of backgrounds and intersect in a million ways across their identities, geographies and experiences, and who have dedicated a portion of their lives to fighting for a more just world. In connecting with each other, we were building the capacity for intentional action.
Those series of reflective conversations in groups large and small, formal and informal, generated two public statements a year ago—the first, from Thorn CEO Julie Cordua, affirming our solidarity with the Black community. The second observing, codifying and committing to celebrate America’s journey in ending slavery by making Juneteenth a holiday for the organization.
Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, and we have reached our first year of exploring how, as an organization, we will bring our creativity, capacity, and unique position in defending children from abuse into alignment with the intersectional movements for racial justice. Doing this work in private and in public matters — accountability in both spaces drives change.
At Thorn we will continue to fight on behalf of the most vulnerable.
Here are a few things we’ve been up to, we are still in the beginning of our work, and we’re looking forward to the work we’ll continue to do for years to come.
For Our Team
- Come together
- We’ve created space to come together as a team and collectively address and condemn these injustices, ensure every Thorn employee feels safe, and develop tools and processes to create meaningful outputs.
- Take your space
- Members of our team are encouraged to take the time they need to process these events and are encouraged to utilize our deep bench of wellness resources.
- In October 2020, we launched Thorn’s inaugural Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Belonging (DEIB) Advisory Group. This group of Thorn employees serves as a cross-functional advisory platform for guiding and assessing the effectiveness of Thorn’s DEIB programs. The DEIB group provides a forum for greater representation and advocacy for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at Thorn by identifying areas of improvement, sponsoring projects, deepening employee engagement, and expanding our ever-growing diverse network of partners.
For our products
- Analyzing bias in AI
- Our Data Science team members, responsible for building the classifiers that power our tools, such as Spotlight and Safer, are paying acute attention to bias to ensure children are identified regardless of skin tone.
- Building more equitable AI
- Currently Data Science engineers are working with partners to train our models to identify children of varying skin tones in order to address and reduce bias. Recently they have internally labeled over 15,000 images across a variety of demographics in preparation for measuring any bias that exists across our classifiers.
- Diversifying youth representation
- Our Youth & Communities team has been hard at work, ensuring that their programs and campaigns represent the diverse communities we serve by prioritizing diversity and representation for ourNoFiltr youth brand, as well as for future campaigns and programs.
As we celebrate and reflect on Juneteenth, we’ll be holding two truths at once: We’ll be celebrating the progress, the changes, the steps of all sizes forward, and we’ll also be reflecting on where we can go next.
Celebration is critical for sustainability. We focus on the power of celebration in our organizational culture as it helps us build resilience and face the critical work to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet. This practice takes practice, and we are looking forward to celebrating, reflecting, and reinforcing our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We know this practice goes beyond just our words but is rooted in our actions, culture, products, programs, and in everything we do.
This is how we honor Juneteenth. This is how we build a world where every child can simply be a kid.