In a post a while back, I shared the history of my salary as I grew into a career in the tech industry. For the last 7 years I have moved into having a ton of class privilege and I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time to share my strategy for one of the ways I try to give back as someone with more money resources. I share this also as a way to hold myself accountable using actual data instead of vagueness. When left to vagueness even my best intentions don’t add up to how much I believe I should be giving – when I do my taxes at the end of the year, I am surprised that I didn’t give away as much as I felt I did. Some of the money I give away isn’t to typical charities but I know that if I was to go back and add it all up, I’d still fall short of what I want to be giving.
I’ve created a spreadsheet where I can track my donations month over month and make sure I’m holding up my commitment to my strategy and so that, at the end of this year, I will know exactly how much I have to hand over to complete my plan.
It’s a simple strategy, based on doing 10% tithing of my post-tax income. I want to put the bulk of it into sustaining monthly contributions as those help organizations plan longer term projects and then I have two categories for ‘unplanned’ giving: random 501c3 organizations (or whatever local community member/gofundme comes up) and then the second is for cash in hand to share with people on the street (most often in SoMa where I work).
I’ve published the spreadsheet so that anyone who is interested can follow along. It will update as I add more data throughout the year. Click on the image below to go to the published page.
I’m interested in hearing how you donate money, what your strategies are, how you track yourself — what’s missing from this year’s plan that I hope to work into future years is: how could I take some of this money and put it into investments or other ways of growing the principal so that more money can be made from that money to give away? I was talking with Damien about this at Lesbians Who Tech and it was the first time that idea came up but now I’m intrigued. How can those of us without family money/major inheritances find ways to build wealth and create trusts & grants that can persist beyond our lifetimes? Big questions. Today, I’m just going to start with finally publishing my 2017 plan.
 Other ways of giving back include advising and sitting on boards, leveraging my company’s space and budget to assist non-profits, spreading the word around my networks to get increased visibility for fundraising, and volunteering my time with several programs of my own creation and also more traditional existing ones.
Recently I was approached by a co-worker to add my name to a petition about restoring the parental leave for Mozilla’s US employees. At some point between 2009 and 2012 our leave plan changed without there being (to my knowledge) any formal announcement, transparency around the decision, or discussion of the impending change with employees.
As I was crafting my response to the request I thought this would be a good blog post since it states quite clearly what I hope Mozilla could strive for as a company with regards to how it provides benefits to employees.
Thanks for including me in this thread. I’ve given it some thought and I’m seeing two very distinct issues here:
1) That Mozilla cut a policy without explanation, it looks to be by accident, and I agree completely that the old policy should be restored until a new one is put in effect with intention (and hopefully transparency)
2) That Mozilla needs a competitive and progressive leave policy going forward – this is something I am happy to help champion with adjustment to the current parent-focused language
I have recently been working on improving our benefits from another angle – trying to get our benefits to explicitly cover transgender surgeries – and I see the issue of being able to take paid leave as being very helpful to that ask. Right off the bat, I wouldn’t want to support having gender-distinct parental leave durations, as this creates a problem for families who do not follow heterosexual patterns (eg: a man or men adopting a child gets less leave than a man/woman or woman/woman or even a single woman). However, I would encourage us to think bigger and propose that paid leave should be a benefit available not only to parents.
If we really want to support diversity, I recommend we ask for (and get a lot of people on board with) a leave benefit that can be used to care for an elder, undergo surgery, adopt/birth/foster a child, write a book, pursue education, renovate a home, or anything that requires undivided focus away from work and enriches your life. Imagine if your benefits at Mozilla allowed you 8 weeks (happy to shoot for more) of paid leave and the reason was up to your discretion. What a measure of excellence we could have above current plans offered by other companies by recognizing a wide range of life-altering events that demand our attention.
Pushing our company to be more appealing to, and welcoming of, women and other marginalized groups is incredibly important to me and I want to see us grow our benefits and company culture in ways that encompasses more diversity. We should appeal not only to women for whom maternity leave is a priority, but also to women whose lives follow other paths, and show that Mozilla cares about the overall health and growth of all their employees with flexible plans that benefit the widest possible groupings of people.
For the short term I’m happy to put my name on this request to reinstate the plan that was never publicly revoked and call out the poor process there (lack of transparency and no announcement of potential change, no input from employees) but I also appeal to you and to others who participate in this request to consider joining forces with me (and some others who put in the request for transgender surgery) to draft a request for 2014 to create a Personal Leave policy and provide a benefit that enhances the well-being of all employees at Mozilla.
That’s the long and short of it. I want us to be willing to discuss and consider our benefits in ways that do not single out certain choices or circumstances over others. It may be how 3rd party brokers and the benefit providing companies create markets for their wares (reminds me of pink/blue toy marketing) but if we want to really have an ‘enviable’ culture and we truly value diversity in our recruiting efforts we should think outside of the boxes that have been created for us by the profit-driven insurance sector.