Earlier today, SMEX’s former editorial director, Lara Bitar, published a tweet showing that her author page had been removed from our website. At the beginning of this year, while migrating to a new website, we decided that in light of the digital security threats that were becoming more prevalent in the country, we would dispense with all individual author pages, including Lara’s, going forward.
However, Lara’s tweet started a conversation on Twitter and amongst our team, that went beyond the act of author attribution. It’s both trite and a severe understatement to say that women face an uphill battle in the workplace. This is true of corporate and NGO environments – although we’re supposed to know better. Women’s contributions are often undervalued, entirely unacknowledged, or seen as “less serious” than that of their male counterparts, who get the higher salaries, flashier titles and better benefits. And this is when they actually get their foot through the door.
By removing Lara’s author page without consulting her first, we unintentionally perpetuated the idea that her contributions to our organization were not worthy of recognition or that her voice was not valued. This is not the organization we want to be. We want to live up to our mission to ensure an open and secure internet for all, especially those who are structurally vulnerable. In order to achieve this, we need to be thoughtful about the impact of our actions, whether it’s the projects we take on or our day-to-day operations. That means hiring the very people we want to help, and ensuring that our workplace is an environment in which they thrive.
Earlier this year, we began the process of reviewing our internal policies so they align with labor best practices, and we will continue to take a critical look at them as we grow. We will prioritize the hiring of women, and be transparent about employee salaries and benefits. Additionally, since many of our employees work part-time or as freelancers, we will commit to improve our communication with them and afford them better protections regarding their content and contracts. During this time, we will consult with legal experts for guidance, and our current and former employees for recommendations, and hope that the public that we serve will also hold us accountable.
We want to sincerely apologize to Lara and our other former staff and contributors: we appreciate your hard work in getting SMEX where it is today. We will be reaching out to all content authors to reinstate their pages on our website if they wish to do so.