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No More Bystanding: How the Braintree Commit Fellowship Came to be

I don’t typically suffer from bystander effect.

Not naturally anyway.

I am action-oriented, sometimes to a fault. When I see something, I say something.

The problem is that for every time that approach truly makes a difference, there are other times when it does nothing but lead to my own frustration. I’ve posted to this blog several times, even in my earliest days at Braintree. I care a lot about this issue, but I struggle to find meaningful ways in which to act.

Inspired by a year of crazy growth and fueled by resources that we’re now lucky to have, I needed to step from behind the blog posts and carry out some straight-up action. As I was drafting this even, I discovered plenty of others feeling the same way.

Well, I’m happy to report that as of last week I can actually point to movement I feel great about.

The Commit Fellowship is the first of several company initiatives we’re tackling in order to “be the change [we] want to see in the world.” The financial part of the fellowship is, yes, substantial: Covering full tuition for two students is a big commitment! But we also recognize that, beyond the financial constraints, there is a need for guidance that we’re uniquely suited to provide.

Buddies are important, no matter the task -- and our product team is readying itself to become a reliable support structure for these fellows as we try this thing on for size!

This fellowship is a portion of a whole ecosystem of initiatives we’re tackling this year. We’ll be attending Grace Hopper Fest for the first time ever. We’re finding ways to champion the women and minorities we currently have on staff. We’re taking a look at how we evaluate code, how we evaluate people, and we’re checking ourselves for unconscious bias where possible.

No more sitting on the sidelines. We’re on the hook now.

We’re done holding our hands at our sides and shaking our heads as we watch diversity numbers in our industry improve only marginally year over year. Gender and racial minorities are consistently underrepresented in a field that builds so many of the tools that continue to become a bigger part of daily life for everyone. It’s time to take a hard look at what’s been happening and to acknowledge that we all play a part in making teams everywhere more inclusive and reflective of those they serve. Supporting these first Commit fellows is just the start of how we’re going to tackle this issue. Because the Commit Fellowship isn’t a fix-all, nor is attending Grace Hopper, nor is tweeting the latest article in and around this diversity issue. It’s about an entire ecosystem of efforts we’ll make because it’s right and because we need to change the way things work. And we’ll keep tweaking and reiterating until we feel like the industry reflects the people we set out to serve.

No more standing idly by; now is the time for action.

If you are interested in applying for Braintree's Commit Fellowship, apply here. Applications close on May 18, 2015.

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Lindsay Verstegen Lindsay leads Recruiting + People Ops at Braintree–first figuring out what Braintree even was in 2012. Likes: bikes, photos, yoga, handwritten letters, and home-brewed kombucha. More posts by this author >>

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