As we undoubtedly face challenging and disturbing times, there comes the responsibility to address the social issues facing us.
Like you, I watch and read the news covering the ongoing protests with great concern. The civil unrest in American cities is unfortunately not limited to U.S. borders, as many countries and cities are facing similar issues. Additionally, while civil unrest only makes the headlines when we reach these dire moments, the underlying racism and prejudices are sadly constant. I have not directly experienced the level of hate and discrimination many people face. But their stories are heartbreaking, and the prejudice they withstand is unacceptable.
I am reassured by the displays of human spirit and goodwill I see in many people who are doing the right thing – treating others fairly, supporting those in need, and standing up for basic human rights in a positive, peaceful manner. We need these displays to be commonplace if we are going to overcome the prejudices that have plagued society for too long.
We rely on each other to succeed in life as individuals, as communities, and as businesses. We share in a common desire to be respected, to be treated fairly, and to live our lives free of fear and persecution. Not everyone experiences these basic rights due to the overt actions of some and the apathy of many.
I have learned in my life that we should not look past our differences, but should embrace and value them. Different ethnicities, backgrounds and views are the hallmarks of great teams, strong businesses and thriving communities. Groups that excel foster rich discussions and robust decision-making enabled by these differences. They bring out the best in all of us, not just a few. For that reason, when we developed our Stratus values, we were intentional in the language we chose.
At Stratus, we strive every day to be agile, collaborative leaders that enable and celebrate people. We are a company, a community, of more than 500 people across the world representing people of various nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. As our “respect people” values states: “we work in a candid environment that celebrates and cares for our most important asset – our people.” To be clear, there is no room or tolerance at Stratus for hate, prejudice, or discrimination.
I do not have the answers about how we put an end to prejudice. I do know however, that together, through open discussion and individual action, we can and will make for a better situation for all going forward. It is up to each of us to create an inclusive, safe environment for all.
I encourage each of us to practice the following as we engage with others, whether a team member, a customer, a partner, or someone you meet outside our work.
- Safely and legally assist anyone who’s being threatened with violence
- Actively listen to and show empathy for those who are directly facing discrimination
- Challenge our own inherent biases
- Challenge others’ biases, politely and respectfully
- Inspire others to practice these behaviors
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
I recognize some of you are or may become more active in showing your support for basic human rights within your community. If you chose to join a protest, for example, I strongly encourage you to do so peacefully, lawfully, and safely. We still face health concerns due to COVID-19 and local guidelines for social distancing and other precautions should not be ignored. Please continue to make good decisions in whichever way you chose to advocate your rights and the rights of others.