Being a leader in today’s world goes beyond just the leadership of your company and your employees. Leadership also has a social responsibility component. As has been said, “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. When innocent black Americans like George Floyd lose their life for no reason in this country, we have all failed as leaders. This is an outrage and needs to stop now! WE can no longer pretend that racism doesn’t exist because it does! There cannot be one more day of inequality period. We need to speak up against injustice whether it exists in our companies or in our society. It is all of our responsibility to help give a voice to those that feel like they are not being heard. Many of us, including myself, could never understand what it feels like to be judged, discounted or harassed because of the color of our skin and the feelings of frustration, sadness and insecurity that causes; or the personal and professional turmoil it creates for one internally, in our companies and in our communities. Embracing the “idea” of equality does not make it a reality. As I consult with companies, I ask them what initiatives they have in place to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s not much. The next questions are “why not?” and “how can I help?” They are questions we should all be asking ourselves.
So, what can you do to help impact positive change? Real change happens by changing people’s hearts and minds. Some actions you can take now: 1. Talk with your black friends or leaders in the black community about their experiences and what they think you can do to help influence change. 2. Use your professional network to create mentoring opportunities for minorities in your community. 3. Do something! Even if it is just taking the time to start a meaningful dialogue with someone, regardless of their race, about actions you can both take to inject compassion into the community.
It is time for us to step up and do what we can to recognize and rid America of racism. SILENCE and turning the other way just won’t cut it going forward. Is there a risk in doing this? You bet! But leaders with real COURAGE don’t care. They just do the right thing.
“Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”
– Barack Obama