Native Instruments pressured to take accountability after accusations of workplace racism

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    Thu, 18 Jun 2020, 15:15
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  • DJs like dBridge, Midland, Caribou, KG and others have called on the music tech company to commit to changes.
  • Native Instruments pressured to take accountability after accusations of workplace racism image
  • Native Instruments is under increasing pressure to announce commitments and changes after being accused of internal workplace racism by several former employees. Update, June 22: Native Instruments has responded with a new statement you can read in full here. The accusations first came to light earlier this month when former QA engineer Jessy Halison responded on LinkedIn to a Native Instruments pledge for racial justice, calling out a 2017 advertising campaign built around Lisbon label Príncipe, which featured the artist DJ N Fox, and the company's handling of internal feedback around it. (Halison's post was not directed at the artist.) "We speak about the brand who released a campaign with the N-word, despite warning and calls in from their (Black and brown female) employees," Halison said. "Who lied to them, by saying they would amend it not to be racist and conscious about the impact, but released it nevertheless without changing a single thing. Who didn't protect said employees from racist comments on discussion channels when the subject was brought up, who told them that they would have no issues advertising artists using other slur names. Who never apologized to them." Other former employees, including current RA reviews editor Soraya Brouwer, also spoke out in support of Halison, outlining their own experiences with discrimination and racism at the company, including company reactions to a grime showcase at the Barbican in London and insensitive portrayals of music genres like trap, UK drill, grime and hip-hop. In response to Halison's post, Native Instruments CEO and cofounder Daniel Haver apologized for her experience, and said that the company's pledge and donation to NAACP Legal Defense Fund "are just small steps." Halison responded to the company disputing their account of events, and adding, "Why are you only listening today, what happened between now and three years ago for you to finally listen to us? Colleagues have reported racism and sexism internally before, what happened to these reports?" Since the Native Instruments statement, figures from across the electronic music industry have called on the technology company for a better, more thorough response, speaking on the matter for a story in Mixmag last week.
    Late last week, Haver released another statement on LinkedIn following the increased pressure from the artists and the community. "We now understand that this was a mistake and that it made our own team—especially our BIPOC employees—feel unvalued, unseen and excluded," Haver said. "At this moment, we are focussing on listening to and discussing actionable next steps with our team. We will remain transparent and share concrete next steps in due course about the actions we are taking to ensure an inclusive, respectful environment for our staff and broader community." Halison was disappointed with Haver's latest response, she said in a follow-up statement to Mixmag. "I've read Daniel Haver's statement. It does not encapsulate the gravity of the situation. We received a similar internal statement in 2017," she wrote. "I have several questions that I shared that remain unanswered, and I urge Daniel Haver to publicly respond to all the questions asked in the LinkedIn thread... Without our statement on LinkedIn and the active help from the artist community across social media, this story would have gone unnoticed again. I hope Native Instruments will address our questions publicly, and share the actions they are putting in place to combat racism in their workplace to ensure a safer environment for everyone inside and outside the company." In the week since, Haver used LinkedIn to announce that he has joined the advisory board at the Bob Moog Foundation. There is no acknowledgement of Halison's, Brouwer's and the community's comments on Native Instruments' official blog or social accounts outside of LinkedIn. On Monday, June 22, Native Instruments responded with a new statement outlining some initiatives to bring about change at the company. Last updated at June 22nd, 5:21 PM BST