Like many, I am deeply saddened, angry and outraged about the atrocities committed against members of the Black community including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. In 2020, I’ve struggled seeing the same tragedies happening over and over again, and I’m worried for my friends and their families in the African American community. In a dialogue with my team at Tenshey yesterday, I heard firsthand their frustrations and outrage against the racism that persists in the very systems that are designed to protect everyone. Yet, time and again, these are the same systems that repeatedly fail the Black community. I’m hopeful, however, that this moment will be a tipping point for long-lasting change, a time where we will reach critical mass and truly start to educate ourselves on becoming stronger allies alongside the Black community.
At Tenshey, we remain committed in our mission toward advancing diversity and inclusion. In fact, 95% of our members are minorities – women, people of color and LGBTQ, and 100% of our corporate executive sponsorship programs focus on minority groups. We will continue to live our mission to close the opportunity gap for many who have been historically excluded from or under- represented in the wider conversation. Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, put it best in his recent CNBC interview, “What put my life on a different trajectory was that someone intervened to give me an opportunity to close that opportunity gap. We’re not asking people to give everybody handouts but we need to acknowledge that there are huge opportunity gaps.” As such, we will continue to advocate for sponsorship and mentorship across organizations as long as the numbers continue to be skewed against people of color. Sponsorship, or using one’s political capital to open doors for others, is not a favor. Sponsorship is a partnership between two people, one that is so critical to moving the needle for change.
We all have a responsibility to take action. What we do moving forward will have long-term effects on everyone around us. Those actions can be big or small, whether that’s through marching in protests, educating themselves on the Black Lives Matter movement, signing petitions, or supporting civil rights organizations like the NAACP and ACLU among many others. For me, through my alma mater Binghamton University, I’m reallocating a portion of my endowment that was dedicated to women of color toward supporting Black students in furthering their education. I will continue to select mentees who are in minority groups, especially in the Black community. I urge all of us to take action, like the following, because inaction has had widespread negative impact on our society:
- Organizations can set hiring targets and implement metrics to ensure increased leadership opportunities for diverse talent
- Leaders can develop and sponsor those in minority groups
- Individuals can be allies to amplify voices
In moving forward, let’s commit to creating a world that is more understanding of one another. Choose love, not hate.
We promise to stand with you. #BlackLivesMatter