The following is published in full from a company-wide email sent out on June 3, 2020.
The senseless killing of George Floyd, on the heels of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, is the latest in a long and dark series of racial injustices principally committed by white people against black people. These represent a subset of social injustices that never should have been and must not continue to be. As a society, we have continued to tolerate–even enable–the scourge of systemic racism and other forms of discrimination in ways that are shameful and abhorrent. Though we can see injustice all around us, many of us never experience it. But together with a legacy of economic disparity fundamentally borne by the black American community, unequal access to healthcare and education, and a global pandemic also disproportionately levied at the same, it remains clear that despite the many social strides we have made as a country over the past century, equality in its several forms remains conspicuously absent.
Many of us are trying to make sense both of these senseless murders–that’s what they are on their most fundamental level–and associated police brutality, by continuing to ask “why is this happening?” as though it were some great mystery. They happen because we passively sit by and let them happen. They happen because we allow discrimination to rear its ugly head on the basis of factors that have no place informing how we should treat one another–with love, kindness, dignity, and respect. They happen because we allow our biases–rooted so deeply that we scarcely appreciate or recognize them–to assert control over our assessments, judgments, and, ultimately, actions. But mostly, they happen because we placate ourselves by idly and ignorantly believing that we aren’t part of the problem or that someone else will present the solution, instead content with inaction and passivity, satisfied in asserting “I don’t see color.” Black lives matter. Right now. Or at least they should if we, as a society, hadn’t so plainly behaved as though they do not.
We’re struck by the notion that we live in communities made better because of our differences and diversity, and that we’re all generally watched over by good and brave police officers who have sworn to serve and protect us. By and large, this system works cohesively, as it should and must. But then, it also sometimes does not, and when it fails us, we persist a tragic truth that, as a society, we do not actually believe and behave in a manner suggestive that all lives actually matter, equally. As Marc Harrison from Intermountain recently asserted, “free speech, fair policing, and peaceful protests are all part of the American way of life…Violence against police officers or protesters, for any reason, has no place in our communities.” And so the issue of social injustice–of racial injustice right now–requires action by each of us. We need to start doing instead of simply talking. We must take collective action or this will not change. And even our little company of nearly 200–as small as we may be–can spark a change through our collective example. And so, we’re calling on each of us now to do just that.
It has taken us some time to reconcile the several conflicting feelings we’re feeling–sorrow, guilt, confusion, frustration, and visceral anger. We also know that we are cis hetero white males of extraordinary privilege who can’t even remotely begin to contemplate what it’s like to live in fear all. the. time. or to be perennially judged on the basis of our skin color (or marital choice, sexual identity, gender, or age). We did not want to simply pen a message with pretty superlatives and superficiality that both condemns racism and discrimination in all of its forms–though we vehemently do–and then DO NOTHING to actually change any of the problems we currently face. So we’ve spent the past several days thinking deeply and speaking with many of you and others–those who are materially more affected by these problems–so that we could LISTEN, EMPATHIZE, and LEARN. We’re writing to you now at what we hope and believe will mark an inflection point for Collective and society as a whole as we do our part to solve the problems that do not have a place in 2020 and beyond. We don’t have all of the answers about how we can use our resources, voice, and actions to be part of the solution. And we don’t purport to tell each of you what to do. But, together, we do speak for Collective. These are our shared thoughts and feelings, and this is the direction that we, as an organization, will lead.
Let us listen to, acknowledge, and accept the feelings of fear, anger, and pain that are justifiably felt by so many. Ours is not to tell others how they should feel, but instead to love, listen, learn, empathize, and act. Let us fight against the tyranny of fear–of discrimination, profiling, or violence on the basis of skin color–and instead celebrate our differences, proudly shouting them from the rooftops, arm in arm, as we unite in our shared, unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness guaranteed to every single American. And let us stand up for one another as we stand against racism or discrimination in any form on behalf of those who cannot for themselves or should not by themselves. We unequivocally condemn racism, intolerance, and discrimination in any of their many forms and we will not tolerate them within the halls of Collective. We will remain an inclusive company of diverse individuals who welcome and care for each other irrespective of our many differences–including gender, religion, ethnicity, age, identity, orientation, or other fundamental attributes. We celebrate our differences, we acknowledge that they make us better and better position us to serve the patients for whom we are charged to care, and we value everyone’s right to respectfully share their views. These have always been core beliefs at Collective, but we’re going to take steps to more formally and concretely define exactly what our expectations are and will be of each team member when it comes to any form of racism, discrimination, or harassment. Collective is and will continue to be based on the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusivity. We will continue to work together to build a more equal community and we will use our voice to foster collaboration and understanding as we continue to promote a safe workplace of diverse and high-performing individuals.
As Mary Barra recently wrote, “there is a big difference between seeing what’s wrong and doing what’s right.” We suggest three sets of activities we can each do, starting now:
1) Listen, Learn, and Share
– Speak out: sign a petition in solidarity (example: https://blacklivesmatter.com/
– Vote: for elected leaders who will not tolerate social injustice and who will lead by example of inclusivity and acceptance
– Share: The People team will create a #standtogether Slack channel in which we encourage you to share how you are affected by these events, listen to others’ perspectives, develop a greater measure of empathy by sharing your own experiences, and determine ways you can take action.
2) Let our resources follow
– Counsel: The People team is working to expand the therapy and counseling benefit we already provide so that we can better support team members who may require a safe, confidential space in which to seek help and support. More to come from them.
– Unite: June is Pride Month. We don’t mention this to distract from recent events, but rather, to reinforce the actions needed to begin to heal and drive permanent change as a country. The People team is launching a series that allows our Collective team to share and learn about the very differences that make us more powerful and united as an organization. We have many to celebrate, including Pride Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pioneer (or Pie & Beer) Day, and more. We encourage you to share, learn, empathize, and celebrate the uniqueness that unite us.
– Learn: Educate ourselves, starting with the many resources found at https://blacklivesmatters.
– Stand: Each one of us deserves to live without fear and to be treated equally and with dignity. If we individually and collectively stand up and speak out when we see acts of discrimination, social injustice will one day be the only relegated minority
Core to our value set is that Collective effort produces extraordinary outcomes. We promise you that Collective will always remain a safe place for all to work and thrive. There is no room here for intolerance of any form. We have the honor and responsibility to help providers care for the entirety of humanity, not just one particular race, gender, identity, orientation, religion, age, or background. To do so, we must embrace that same level of inclusivity and diversity. We are grateful to you for your many contributions to the Collective good. Now let us do more.
Chris, Wylie, & Adam