Michael Kaye, Global Communications Manager at OKCupid and member of the steering committee for the Human Rights Campaign’s Greater New York Chapter, joins us to talk about the growing number of people supporting social justice initiatives (4:18), how OKCupid has joined the Pride Month and Black Lives Matter narratives (10:25), what it’s like working for a brand with core values of advocacy (22:02), how brands need to “put their money where their mouth is” (26:25) and how you can become a better ally (40:16). Michael also reminds us that while we have a lot to celebrate, there is much more to do (49:18). In his words: “Being an ally is a constant process. It doesn’t end when a hashtag stops trending.”

1:26: Michael’s background, both inside and outside the office. His focuses and passions are in communications, civil rights activism and advocacy and education. “Basically the only thing I’m not passionate about is sleep and free time.” 

Outside of the office, he’s: 

4:18: More people are being vocal about supporting social justice, including Black Lives Matter and Pride Month. Those that used to be silent are now being part of the conversation and are rising up. We have to be part of the change. GO VOTE! Vote for what and who matters to you. Vote for marginalized communities and those whose voices haven’t been heard. That’s an important responsibility. And allyship is growing and supporting one another. 

  • “We’re seeing people from our high school or from our college, who were never really engaged in social, political, economic, cultural issues, speaking out on social media. We’re seeing them in the streets, at these marches and protests.” – Michael 
  • “There’s been a huge wave of activism, and I think it’s been bubbling up for a long time.” – Michael 
  • “It’s become everyone’s problem. And the people whose problem it’s not–they’re the ones with the problem now.” – Maria 
  • White people have present at Black Lives Matter protests, vigils and marches: “White people [are] standing up and saying, ‘we are part of the problem, but we’re also going to be part of the change.’” – Michael 
  • “It’s exhausting to be the only person fighting for this.” – Beki

10:25: OKCupid has launched features aimed at allyship and showing support for Black Lives Matter and Pride Month. A majority of members said it’s not OK to silently support racial equality. You must make your voice heard. OKCupid offers a Black Lives Matter profile badge and has added new matching questions based on racial equality and justice. The platform also celebrated Pride Month virtually, by partnering with LGBTQ+ advocates and activists through its “Ask Yourself” campaign. 

Check out these astounding statistics: 

  • Mentions of BLM on OKCupid profiles have increased more than 900% between May and June 2020. 
  • More than 230,000 have added the BLM badge to their OKCupid profiles (and it’s growing!)
  • Those that vocally support BLM on their profiles are 2.5X more likely to receive a first message.
  • People who add the badge are twice as likely to match with someone else with a badge, vs. someone without one.
  • “Publicly showing your support for equality is actually bringing people together around the world.” – Michael
  • Within only a couple weeks, OKCupid received more than 685,000 responses on questions including, “How will you address racial inequality?” and “Is it important that your date fights for racial equality?” 
  • 84% of 115,000 respondents are looking for their date to fight for racial justice. 
  • “Our feelings of dating and love as a member of the LGBTQ+ community are valid.” – Michael
  • “Whether it’s not having a gender preference when dating, or only being OK dating someone that’s out of the closet, we want you to know that it’s OK–and YOU choose what’s OK.” – Michael
  • “You’re building bridges by letting people have conversations, and then creating love through that.” – Maria 

17:19: Michael shares how the dating landscape has changed with COVID-19, starting with increased matches, conversations and connections. Women started feeling more empowered to send the first message and connect. Overall, people started to connect on deeper levels and seek genuine connections. People are also becoming more liberal in their political views. 

Check out these stats: 

  • 90% of Global OKCupid daters (Tens of millions of users in more than 110 countries) continued to date, but did it virtually–through messaging or video chats and other virtual forms. 
  • 84% of more than 540,000 users said it’s important to have an emotional connection before a physical one. 
  • 2.2X the amount of U.S. OKCupid daters said COVID-19 was causing them to lean more liberal, than those who said they’re leaning more conservative, politically speaking. 

22:02: Michael dishes what it’s like working for OKCupid. “I actually joined OKCupid because the brand’s commitment to creating an inclusive and safe platform for everybody.” It was the first dating app to expand gender and dating options, as well as the first to introduce the pronouns feature on profiles. The company’s mission, values and CEO have always been focused on issues important to the community–so, navigating COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter discussions have been empowering. “I’ve never felt more supported as an employee.” OKCupid, along with its CEO and CMO, are supporting employees as they WFH during COVID-19.

26:25: It’s also crucial for brands to step up with actions to match their words, with donations, plans moving forward, internal diversity and more. And we can encourage brands to do the right thing by encouraging and applauding steps in the right direction. 

Here’s an overview: 

  • “Let’s just be clear that [the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others] is a pattern that’s been happening for generations. This is not something that is a 2020 issue. It’s not something that is a Trump administration issue. This is a core part of, I think, the DNA of the United States.” – Michael 
  • Bozoma Saint John: “It’s important for brands to put their money where their mouth is.” 
  • “It’s really easy for a brand to change their logo to black or to make it a rainbow, but really, what else are you doing besides that?” – Michael
  • OKCupid has donated to: 
  • Bozama Saint John: “Brands need to acknowledge this moment, even if it’s not perfect.” 
  • “Brands need to really address the situation quickly, and also understand that this is a new situation for a lot of people, and it’s OK if you make a mistake. But the biggest mistake is going to be not addressing it.” -Michael
  • Diversity within organizations: “Brands really need to pay attention to who’s at the table when these discussions are happening.” -Michael
  • “It’s taken us so long to get to this point, that it’s obviously going to take a long time to get out of the hole in which we’ve dug and the problems we’ve created.” -Beki
  • “I think we are all tired of thoughts and prayers, and we want action and change.” -Michael
  • “We’re now in a situation where it’s OK for those brands today, ‘OK, we weren’t focusing on this. But now we will.’” -Maria
  • “The more you can get [brands] in these uncomfortable conversations, the better the world will be at the end of the day.” -Maria 

40:16: Michael shares how we can be more involved and become allies to the causes and people we want to support. Educate yourself on causes and listen to people whose experiences differ from yours. Be vocal about your support. Support Black-owned and LGBTQ-owned businesses. Volunteer! Lastly, VOTE. 

“Being an ally is a constant process. It doesn’t end when a hashtag stops trending.” -Michael

“You don’t have to be a rich person to give back.” -Michael 

“Vote for candidates who support the issues and the communities that you care about.” – Michael

“One person standing up is a lone soldier, but if you have 1,000 people standing up, you’re going to make a difference.” -Maria

“This is our time to make a change.” -Maria

Check out these books:

Volunteer here: 

Support these companies:

  • Kirrin Finch: Clothes (and fashionable face masks!) for men, women and non-binary people
  • EatOkra: An app to find Black-owned restaurants

AND

Check out OKCupid’s #BlackLivesMatter blog post here

49:18: One key takeaway, courtesy of Michael Kaye: “It’s important to acknowledge all the success we’ve made in the LGBTQ+ community, but also, really, all the progress we have yet to make.” Get the tissues out for Michael’s story. (Love is love is love. <3) We’ve come so far, but there is so much left to do. And now it’s time for the LGBTG+ community to support the Black community (shout out to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera). Be prepared for a cheesy mountain metaphor to drive home this point: The climb is worth it. Keep going. 

“While I think it’s important to wave your rainbow flag and celebrate our wins, I think it’s more important that we don’t lose focus and we continue to mobilize and speak out and fight for equality–not only for our fellow queer Americans or citizens wheerever, but people of all marginalized communities.” -Michael 

Let’s recognize leaders of Pride Month: 

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