In her book Becoming, Michelle Obama says this after the death of her father, “It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does.”
Over the last week, I’ve wondered how it must feel to be a part of George Floyd’s family, to have a nation, a world, mourn the death of your son, brother, father. I’ve wondered why it took the murder of this man to finally spark our nation to action, now past the point of sitting silently and allowing another Black man’s name to be added to the list of those who unjustly died before him. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m frustrated and angry that, as a nation, we find ourselves here again, reminding each other that the inhumane treatment of our Black brothers has gone on far too long without the action it requires for real change.
As I look back on my life and the horrific events of recent days, I understand now more than ever that I have no idea what it’s like to grow up in this country as anything other than a privileged white male. That realization has sent me into deep thought and reflection over the past several days.
The senseless murder of George Floyd, and the inequality, discrimination, racism and injustice that Black members face in our society every day will only be changed by what we together take on and stand up for.
As the CEO at Integrate, I realize I not only have the opportunity, but the responsibility, to set forth a plan of action that actively creates an environment for change and helps move the Black Lives Matter platform forward.
Here is the pledge I make to my employees, our customers, society, and to the Black community:
At Integrate we will strongly denounce any form of racism in our workplace, our communities, and the world. We will continue to welcome all races, religions, ethnicities and beliefs into our team and continue to draw strength from our diversity. We will advocate for equality so that all voices are heard, and we will be an inclusive workplace for all. There is no place for hatred in our organization and we will not tolerate it in any form. This is not new for Integrate, but it deserves to be said again, publicly, and with conviction. Today, we stand in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and as an organization will make a monetary donation to move this organization’s work forward.
At integrate we are encouraging our employees to take the time they need to absorb the impact of the brutality in our society today. Whether this is a day off to regroup with their families or an afternoon to peacefully protest at local demonstrations where their voices can be heard, we recognize that the pain and emotional toll we all feel is real. We encourage our team to talk with one another, to share their stories, and to treat each other with the empathy, kindness and healing this world needs right now. For those seeking more support, we encourage our employees to leverage our Employee Assistance Program and mental health resources.
At Integrate we are sharing educational anti-racism resources with our teams here in the US and in the UK. We want our Black employees to feel supported and encouraged and we recognize that requires open, honest dialog to help every employee understand the everyday challenges our Black co-workers experience. Over the next few months, we will continue this dialog in small groups, with managers and leaders across the organization, and at our Town Hall Meetings.
At Integrate we will strengthen our diversity of hiring by implementing the Rooney Rule policy adopted by the National Football League. This policy requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs. While the NFL requires no hiring quota for underrepresented populations, at Integrate we commit to increasing our diversity in leadership and across the organization. We have needed to do better here, and I am taking a personal stance to improve where we stand today.
In my personal experience as an NFL player for both the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, I shared the locker room with my Black teammates. Never once did I think differently about my brothers because of the color of their skin. But I recognize that may be part of the problem. Just because one doesn’t feel or see racism in his own life does not mean that it doesn’t exist.
I urge you to stand with us, and with Integrate, to move our world forward.