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It’s been over 10 tumultuous days across the United States as emotional energy peaks after the private memorial service for George Floyd. It took only 8 minutes, 46 seconds to rob George Floyd, his family and his community of a life that should be valued no differently than any other.
I can’t stop hearing the words, “I can’t breathe.” And as many know, those words were not only George Floyd’s last, but they were voiced by Eric Garner 11 times before he died during a similar event in 2014.
How many brutal, unjust, horrific tragedies have occurred that we’re not aware of? And, equally, if not more importantly, how many more lives will it take before America unites to create the change needed to stop this?
IT’S TIME TO STOP
STOP THE INJUSTICES
I hope these atrocious acts of violence sparks a lasting flame of compassion within our wider culture.
It is imperative that we say their names with great compassion and solidarity: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and George Floyd. And to humbly recognize that there are names that have gone unrecognized and unnoticed, but are nonetheless real and deserving of human dignity.
Let this moment inspire all of us to take action to create permanent change for a more fair and equal society.
At Conversica, we encourage our employees to openly voice their thoughts through an anonymous platform. I have to say, I love their feedback.
Like many of my CEO peers, I sent my staff an email acknowledging the events unfolding, and reinforcing our commitment to company-wide diversity and inclusion.
But it didn’t take long for my staff to challenge me: “Most companies are actively condemning the discrimination and injustice against black people,” but “Will Conversica take a stand against racism?” And then it hit me. Talk is weak. It’s time to act.
Exchanges like these eventually developed. Employees identified themselves and their positions, igniting creative ideas of how we could take action, real action.
It was then that I knew I couldn’t focus on the day-to-day responsibilities and duties. This isn’t a checklist for a few simple improvements to existing diversity programs or just letting the rest of the world lead the charge.
I can remember my first week at Conversica, being onboarded like every new employee. As the new CEO, I wasn’t just going through the motions. I was studying the culture. One of my first questions was: “What are we doing for diversity?”
If you were to classify me into a “CEO bucket,” I would define my bucket label as “culture CEO.” I believe in “people power.” I strive to ensure that our people realize their full potential to create impact within our organization.
When I get invited into a new company, people are always my immediate focus. And I like to think that I am one of the most sensitive to diversity, inclusion and equality. But I’ve fallen behind. I’ve taken my eye off the diversity ball, especially during COVID. Recent events have magnified the fact that I and my peer CEOs are not doing enough.
So, in an effort of transparency and honesty, here’s our current snapshot of diversity across gender and racial dimensions:
The following gives us the view of Conversica in gender and race across various groups including our Board, our Executive team, our entire Leadership team (all people managers), as well as the company as a whole.
Our racial diversity is the most challenged across all groups at Conversica.
Sure, when compared to the industry average for other high-tech companies, including leaders in this space like Salesforce or Twitter, we may be doing okay in some areas of company-wide diversity. But for the most part, we’re like all high-growth companies. We still fall short.
For those who know me, I carry a set of playbooks everywhere I go. To foster diversity in organizations, my philosophy is the following:
I fully recognize this list only scratches the surface. It falls significantly short of the change needed. So, what’s next for Conversica?
As a company, we need to understand that diversity runs across culture, race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation.
We also need to understand that equality cuts across social, civil, political, economic, opportunity, and educational equalities.
There are so many topics that companies need to support and help their employees proactively address. What about climate change, immigration, homelessness, or sexual violence? Can companies proactively take a stance to help create a real difference across all of these? Absolutely.
It’s easy to talk the talk. But how do we move from words to actions?
As Conversica’s CEO, I commit to turning words into actions starting with the following pledges.
Annually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day—occurring on the third Monday in January—Conversica will set goals for diversity and inclusion within our organization for the year ahead.
We will revisit these goals, mid-year, on May 25th, the anniversary of George Floyd’s untimely death. By memorializing this date as “Diversity Day,” we will reflect upon our pledge to support diversity, inclusion and equality; reviewing our progress and publishing them for all.
The value of diversity, inclusion, and equality is unmeasurable. However, Conversica’s commitment has to be followed by action. Failure to implement our pledges in the workplace will lead to disengaged employees and will ultimately jeopardize our company’s reputation.
This week’s events will be the catalyst for change at Conversica, by fueling a continued and long-term focus on diversity, inclusion, and equality efforts that we will measure and reflect upon bi-annually—once in mid-January for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and then again mid-year on Conversica’s Diversity Day in late May.
Stay safe and be well,
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