These last few days have been painfully hard on our communities and our country. Racist abuse, violence and murders are not new but these issues are immediate and impossible to ignore. It’s long past time for us all to do the long, hard work to change that reality.
All of us at Handshake are outraged and heartbroken by the racial injustice and abuse of power that we are all witnessing against the black community. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, like the harassment of Christian Cooper in Central Park and too many others, represent the life-threatening reality that most of us cannot comprehend because we have never lived it.
I founded Handshake to help companies live their values: to bring social purpose to boardrooms and business models. I firmly believe there’s no greater purpose than building safe communities with equity and opportunity for all. Our clients have communities of employees and stakeholders, and so do we.
To that end, we have to start with ourselves. We are engaging directly in conversations about race and identity both internally and with our clients. This is the time to dig deep and answer hard questions around how we face our own bias and how we confront this in our work. These conversations are not easy, but they need to be voiced, and they will only help us continue to create a diverse working environment and team at Handshake.
We are also mobilizing to support the grassroots organizations that are making real change on the ground in confronting race and discrimination.
Finally, we will continue to use our expertise, our platforms and our networks to drive awareness and to help companies workshop real solutions. More than just grand statements of sympathy, organizations need concrete action plans to create profound impact, influence and consequences for their communities.
This work is difficult, but it is worth doing.
I am reminded of Lincoln’s second inaugural address where he spoke to a nation that was frayed to the edges by a Civil War over slavery. He finished that speech by saying, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
With firmness in the right, let’s get to work on a just and lasting peace.