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What we stand for

Launching the BIPOC Community Book Club

Posted by Taylor Carroll |

On September 17th 2020, fifteen Criteos joined a Zoom call – but this was not your average call to talk about display ads, holiday strategy, or Q4 planning. This was the first official meeting of the Book/Film Club hosted by the newly formed BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Community group at Criteo. This newly formed community group began in June 2020 and was inspired by the BIPOC project. The group focuses on solidarity and a commitment to fighting against racial inequalities and racism. Their mission is to create a culture that empowers employees of Color by creating safe spaces, providing resources for career development, and offering educational opportunities to the Criteo community.

This virtual book club put on by the BIPOC Community was the first of its kind to launch at Criteo. Criteos of different backgrounds, teams, and levels of seniority joined the call to discuss the novel and movie "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas. This gripping story highlights the experience of a young Black girl who witnesses the shooting death of a friend at the hands of the police. In the wake of the shooting, the main character Starr, struggles to conceal her emotions, especially while in the presence of her white friends and must eventually come to terms with embracing her full identity which she has worked painstakingly to repress. As a first-time event, it was inspiring to see Criteos come together to discuss this hard-hitting and emotionally intense story. The book club was a true test of our values: open, together, impactful – and we passed the test with flying colors.

As a BIPOC Criteo myself, the conversation was therapeutic and refreshing. Reading or watching this type of content is not easy. After watching such a heavy piece of content I felt the need to examine how it was impacting me and let out how I was feeling. The book club proved to be a safe and welcoming space to do that, and it appeared to be true for my colleagues as well. One colleague mentioned that she identified with losing friends at a young age, finding the content difficult to deal with and even traumatic at times.

“I fast-forwarded through the scenes I knew were violent[…]it felt like PTSD* for me.”

Many more BIPOC Criteos spoke openly about their experiences and how they identified with the main character Starr in her constant struggle to code-switch between worlds. One book club member was shocked to find that her daughter identified with code-switching at school at such a young age. Others expressed that watching the film felt surreal; it hit too close to home and felt disturbing since the events in the movie mirrored current events in the US all too well. Another theme discussed was hidden emotions and the idea that many BIPOC try to bottle up their feelings and are expected to go on with life and work when events in the world cause them to feel immense grief, anger, and frustration.

Non-BIPOC Criteos listened actively as their coworkers shared personal experiences. One mentioned that seeing the movie when it debuted in 2018 was a learning experience but watching the movie in 2020 was "profound." She mentioned feeling surprised as she picked up on details she never would have two years prior, possibly reflecting the immense learning our society has gone through. It was enlightening to witness this realization and it further emphasized the importance of continuing this learning at Criteo.

Creating brave and open environments for Criteos to talk about topics like racial injustice is only a first step in a pursuit of living our values of open, together and impactful. We were open: we spoke honestly and brought our full selves to the conversation. The BIPOC community leaders stressed that openness was a pre-requisite to discussing this content. We were together: we supported one another in sharing personal stories and valued the contributions that each member brought to the discussion. We were impactful: we discussed ways to make our voices heard in the fight for social justice, with employees suggesting organizations Criteo could become involved with in the cities where Criteo operates. We also discussed the importance of voting and having our voices heard on Election Day in the US.

What is next for the BIPOC Community? Another book or movie is on the horizon of course, but beyond curating content, group leaders Brittinae Wright, Geraldine Nieves, and Lasheine Brown hope that future events have even more attendees and continued openness in sharing. These three leaders have big plans for the BIPOC community at Criteo and would like to ensure that our diverse cultural heritage is recognized and celebrated. Moreover, it is Criteo’s goal to nurture and develop our culture of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and belonging. To solidify this ongoing commitment David Fox, Criteos CDO and CCO, recently volunteered to sponsor the BIPOC group at Criteo. It is great to see what a positive impact this community group has had on Criteo thus far and we hope the momentum only grows stronger.

Taylor Carroll

Interim D&I Lead and Senior Sales Engineer Key Accounts

The Future is Yours.

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