Following allegations of systemic racism within the organization, music hardware and software developer Native Instruments has publicly responded. The accusations, which initially appeared on LinkedIn, spawned a deluge of calls for the company to take action from many music industry professionals and artists.
After Native Instruments released a statement in which the company aligned with the fight for racial justice, Jessy Halison, who was employed as a QA Engineer at the company's Berlin office from 2015 to 2018, took to LinkedIn to denounce it. "We stand in solidarity with everyone fighting against racism and social injustice in our society," stated Native Instruments in its post. "We are listening, learning and looking into how we can best help to amplify voices against racism and be part of the force for change.” In an ensuing post, Native Instruments announced that it had made a $50,000 donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Halison then shared a statement of her own on LinkedIn, writing, "I just couldn't stay silent when Native Instruments is trying to paint a portrait of a supportive brand."
"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," she continued. "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."
"I should know, I was one of them. This whole thing was traumatic for me, and my friends. So let me "lol" to their external communication. They are not able to stand for their black and brown employees internally (despite really driving forces from some employees), and never committed to support the #diversityandinclusion initiatives we were working to put in place. We don't need and we don't want your performative allyship. Apologize sincerely first, really do better. Acts speak more loudly than your empty words, and trust me, they speak volume!"
Daniel Haver, Native Instruments’ CEO and co-founder, published his own response to Halison’s LinkedIn post in its comment section.
"I appreciate you speaking up and creating a transparent and public discussion on this topic," wrote Haver. "First, I apologize deeply for your experience as a Native employee during this time and take your feedback extremely seriously. While we have always considered diversity and inclusion an integral part of how NI operates, we have in the past let our unconscious bias make us overlook the realities of POC employees. The campaign you bring up is a fitting example of this: while we had good intentions, we did not listen to the valid concerns raised by our black and brown team members and I’m sorry for the pain this has caused to yourself, and other current and former employees."
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“Our public statement and donations to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative are just small steps to use our platform to highlight racial injustice," Haver continued. "We realize that we must do more, and that starts internally. We have committed to clear steps to create a more inclusive workplace, including unconscious bias training for all employees at all levels and a review of our current hiring and development practices. Above all, we pledge to hold ourselves accountable every day and continue to educate each other.”
Haver's reply produced a volley of responses, including one from former Native Instruments employee Soraya Brouwer, who worked in artist relations at the company from 2016 to 2019. In her response, Brouwer wrote that "Black employees were gaslighted by senior members of staff" and that her "white colleagues freely used the n-word" in relation to a 2017 campaign that featured DJ N-Fox. She also addressed Haver directly, calling for him and other senior staff at Native Instruments to "stand in solidarity with your current and former Black employees, with the Black artists who represent your company image, with your Black customers who praise your range of products every day, and Black lives everywhere."
In response to the allegations of racism, Native Instruments shared an official statement via the company's blog today, June 22nd, 2020.
"Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to thrive in the music technology industry. But right now this isn’t happening. And as a company we know we haven’t done enough to address the issues of systemic racism, bias, and inequality in the sector or within our own walls," the statement reads.
"Recently, current and former colleagues have shared their experiences of working at Native Instruments, bringing to light several examples of BIPOC and diverse voices being ignored, alongside wider issues of inequality and lack of accountability in our workplace and culture. The issues were raised in response to a post we made in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. What we were saying outwardly was in stark contrast to their experiences," the statement continues.
"To our former colleagues: We are deeply sorry for what happened. Thank you for all of your contributions to NI despite the challenges you faced while working with us, and for your efforts even now to help make NI better. We also want to thank those who have spoken out via social media, holding us to account and calling on us to do better."
"Today we want to share our first steps towards ensuring those kinds of experiences become a thing of the past. We are committed to fostering an inclusive workplace with equal treatment and opportunities for all – no matter their ethnicity, gender, age, ability, belief, or sexual orientation. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we need to take a hard look at all aspects of our ways of working."