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Pluralsight’s commitment to social justice

By Aaron Skonnard    |    June 04, 2020

Pluralsight was founded on the principles of equality and opportunity. We set out with a moonshot to democratize technology skills driven by our love of humanity and intention to realize a future that is truly and fundamentally different. At Pluralsight, we know that achieving what we believe is possible means addressing the root system failures that stand in the way of equitable education and opportunity. 

Injustice is a constant obstacle and barrier. It stands in the way of what is possible, the future we dream of and the change in which we invest. For too many, injustice interrupts dreams. It undermines the hope of what might be. It inhibits freedom and silences voice. It stands in the way - not only for what each individual could create, but what they could become. 

I am heartbroken by the senseless loss of life and the brutality many continue to experience across our local and global communities. Black people - adult and children alike - are reduced to hashtags after their lives have been horrifyingly and unjustly ended at the hands of ignorance, fear, and hate. Equally distressing are the lives taken from us that we don't see -- including a disproportionate number of trans and non-binary Black lives. As a result of COVID-19, forty million people across the United States have lost their jobs in a few short months. Black Americans and People of Color are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, causing additional trauma and pain for communities already shouldering a burden that is not only unreasonably heavy, but also so deeply unfair.

Pluralsight holds an unbending commitment to equality. I feel deep empathy for the injustices our own Black team members have faced throughout their lives and for the compounding impact and trauma that the most recent injustices create. Pluralsight is better because of diversity and yet we have not done enough. As CEO of Pluralsight, I take accountability and acknowledge that I have much to do as an ambassador for radical change. I come to you today with vulnerability, humility and a commitment to listen and learn so we can build a better future together. 

As an immediate demonstration of our commitment, Pluralsight One, our social enterprise, has mobilized to create a $200,000 matching grant to galvanize additional support and momentum for the social justice movement and combat systemic intolerance and racial oppression. 

Donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 total and divided evenly between four charitable organizations - Year Up, Southern Poverty Law Center, Equal Justice Initiative, and Color of Change.

  • Year Up in support of education and employment outcomes for their Black students who have been deeply impacted by the compound effects of COVID-19 and deepening racial injustice. 

  • Southern Poverty Law Center fighting hate, bigotry and seeking justice for all through litigation, education and advocacy. 

  • Equal Justice Initiative ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S. through criminal justice reform, challenging racial and economic injustice, advancing public education, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. 

  • Color of Change to build voter engagement, support research, lead victim response efforts through large-scale, community-led grassroots campaigns.  

To participate in this matching grant program, use this link to contribute. In addition to giving through charitable contributions, there are many other steps you can take to be a force for positive change towards racial equality in the U.S. and worldwide. I invite you to begin by considering the message and call to action in this article by Eric Ward at the Southern Poverty Law Center. In particular, I urge you to heed Ward’s message to “honor the grief and anger that the public is feeling over the recent lynchings of Black Americans, many at the hands of law enforcement.” 

Charitable giving is impactful and I encourage you to consider a donation to these important causes. That said, this contribution does not relieve us of our responsibilities to be vigilant to our own internal biases, to root out language and actions that further marginalize our Black team members and other People of Color, and to demonstrate real empathy and compassion for experiences we may not have had or understand.

Neither this issue nor our engagement is about a trending hashtag. George Floyd’s life is not a trending hashtag. It is a severe and violent loss. A dream and future snuffed out. George was a man and his life, lives of so many before him, and infuriatingly the lives of those that we have lost since, had irrefutable value, worth and dignity. 

Anti-racism is a life-long practice. I commit to my team, our authors, our customers, our partners, and our community that I will not stand by silently, complicit to injustice and the insidious manifestations of hate. Please join me by personally committing to being a lifelong learner and practitioner of anti-racism. Together we are united in fierce advocacy for human rights.

This is my personal pledge to you: I am here alongside you, promising that I will actively listen and fight for justice and true equality. I do not claim to have a solution, but I promise you that I will embrace discomfort and seek to deepen my understanding of privilege and actions that I can take to be a more powerful advocate and leader for equality. Anti-racism work is not a choice or an option, it is a responsibility we must see through. This is long overdue and it is necessary in our pursuit of social justice.

About the author

Aaron Skonnard is the CEO of Pluralsight (NASDAQ: PS), a fast-growing enterprise technology learning platform. Aaron cofounded Pluralsight in 2004 and has since grown the company to more than 1,000 employees and 1,500 expert authors. As CEO, Aaron focuses on business strategy, future direction, product development and strategic partnerships. On a day-to-day basis, he works closely with the entire executive team in different capacities, including recruiting, brand management, marketing, sales, feature planning and content acquisition.