As everyone knows, we are dealing with some incredibly difficult times. The impact of today’s civil issues on our society are without a doubt some of the most challenging we have seen in a generation. As a black male who grew up in the South, I have personally experienced many of the issues we are seeing in today’s media. The challenge we must face is to first understand and then to commit to change.
My family is from rural Oklahoma. I grew up in an environment where there was only one pool we could go to and we had to be out of the nearest town before dark simply because we were Black (they called these towns, “sundown towns”). My parents were committed to education as a way of avoiding poverty and improving our lives. We moved to Southeastern Virginia where again, even in the late ‘70s, I was targeted by police and had Klu Klux Klan marches in the streets near my home. The notion of equality was not something we dwelled on. The only way to get there was to be a better student and athlete. I remember once being stopped by the local police for simply not turning off my bright lights fast enough. I was told that I would have been taken in if they had not recognized me as an accomplished football player.
I tell this story only to lead into the idea that understanding perspective is the first place we need to go as a society and as the BRMi community. I hope that we can lead by example when it comes to supporting and valuing the diversity in our organization and the communities we live in. That we commit to listening to the pain so many have suffered and to operate in a way that supports uplifting everyone. We must recognize that Black Lives Matter is about understanding the ongoing tragedy of the lives of people of color that are being cut short in ways that others are not. That as a 16-year-old boy, I should not fear for my life when I forgot to turn off my bright lights for just a second. We must “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
The culture of BRMi is rooted in intellectual depth and curiosity. As an organization, we are compelled to act rather than simply watch. We are in the process of updating our strategy to ensure this organization lives up to its diversity and inclusion values. We are implementing the following across the company:
- We will promote ongoing communication to all employees
- We will update our corporate values to articulate our diversity values
- We will be sending an employee survey to seek to understand your perspectives
- We will be implementing an online diversity and inclusion (D&I) meeting place to host dialogues
- We will implement Diversity/Anti-Racism Training across the company
- We will be appointing a D&I lead to help organize our overall efforts
- We will be soliciting participation in a Diversity Council
- We will implement a D&I Education/Discussion Newsletter
- We will strengthen our recruiting strategy to improve diversity across the company
Words without actions are simply words. BRMi is all about getting it done. Please join me in helping to make our company live up to our commitment to truly serve our community and society.