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, complaining about an advertising campaign built around the artist DJ N Fox.
“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 detailed piece in Mixmag last week.
So many of us empowering companies and brands that low key behind the scenes have been negligent when it comes to addressing race issues in the workplace. It’s call out season. https://t.co/nQapfpilBN
— 👑KG👑 (@KarenNyameKG) June 13, 2020
As someone who uses @NI_News products in almost all of my music making I would like to see the company address the points Soraya and Jessy have raised about their time at the company and work to make necessary internal changes and not just make donations and move on. https://t.co/rdZiJYEtox
— Midland (@midlandsound) June 11, 2020
— dBridge (@dBridge) June 13, 2020
If you haven’t had a chance to, please read this article that @Sorayea has shared (especially if you are a customer of Native Instruments) – it provides a detailed account of what has been going on @NI_News https://t.co/54lyHl8J66
— Pariah (@pariahbeats) June 13, 2020
Hello @NI_News I’ve been using your products extensively for a long time. Reading this account from @Sorayea makes me question if it’s something I want to continue doing if we can’t get a proper explanation from you ?! https://t.co/GMrwLuAP2D
— Peder Mannerfelt (@PederMannerfelt) June 12, 2020
This important for all companies (in any industry) and Senior Staff to read and set an example https://t.co/2a8oFXnLVx
— Martyn Bootyspoon (@mbootyspoon) June 12, 2020
RT this (see whole thread) about the dissonance between @NI_News public statements re anti-racism and the experience of some BIPOC employees.
I, and surely others, want to know about issues like this. Pls share your story if you have similar experiences working in music tech. https://t.co/HYTi9okX6W
— Caribou (@caribouband) June 11, 2020
This article highlights how important it is that companies are held accountable for their behaviour and specifically, that they provide actionable steps and a timeframe in which to achieve them. 1/2 https://t.co/zAfOHKAAFn
— Annabel Ross (@annabel_ross) June 12, 2020
— Sage Caswell (@sagecaswell) June 13, 2020
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.”