After watching the horrific video of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests and rioting that followed this past weekend, I experienced a wide range of emotions—anger and outrage at the senseless death of a black man being taken into custody, as well as frustration and helplessness over how to end the scourge of racism and resulting violence that has become all too common in our world. I am scared that our country is being torn apart at a time when we need to be unified to fight the pandemic, rebuild our economies, and promote equality and safety for everyone regardless of race, color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Like all people who are sickened by the images of the George Floyd video, along with the equally tragic recent stories of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Tennessee, and so many, many others, I feel compelled to act and be a force of constructive and positive change. So today, I raise my voice to share with you my feelings on these matters.
For our employees, regardless of race, I try my best to understand your anxiety and pain, and the flood of the emotions and fears and outrage that you are feeling. But the truth is, as a white man, I cannot—and probably never will—truly have those experiences and therefore those feelings in the same way. But I’ve heard from you directly and indirectly, and I will do my best to try and comprehend. The Management Committee and I stand united with you in our support of fair treatment for all. And I promise that DTCC will continue to actively foster an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion and do our part to help heal the divisions that tear at our nation and build a stronger foundation for the future.
The video of Floyd’s death was one of those moments where you wish you could step into the frame and take action to avoid a tragedy: Lift the knee and let the man breathe. The same applies to the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Each time, when video or audio is broadcast, you wish someone there had yelled “Stop” and that the others had listened. But there’s no going back. We all need to do better, as individuals, as a company and as a society. We need to be more aware that there are many people who feel so dispossessed that a spark—or in this case, several—only deepens their sense of hopelessness. Racial injustice in all forms is toxic and its corrosive effects are now on full display, damaging the fabric of our society.
All the more tragic is that peaceful protests have devolved into riots, detracting attention from the profound and fundamental issues that need to be addressed. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “a riot is the language of the unheard,” but when a very small percentage of protestors become a mob that attacks helpless people, loots stores and tears down the small businesses that are the lifeblood of every neighborhood, it destroys the meaning and message of their protest and diminishes lives lost. Here, too, we need to do better. The outrage and anger are real, but as a country we need to channel this frustration toward positive ends to foster unity instead of dividing and destroying.
The events of the last few weeks mean that our firm will redouble our efforts to promote understanding and learn from each other. I was moved by Mark Vercruysse’s story in our annual report about the differences that he, as a white man with children, had with black colleagues with children, when it came to interacting with police. Today, Keisha Bell, our Head of Diverse Talent Management and Advancement, shared her poignant insights in a moving blog post that I encourage everyone to read.
DTCC remains deeply committed to diversity and inclusion, and our recruiting, hiring and retention policies are all designed to ensure that our workforce reflects all racial and ethnic groups in the communities where we live and work. We will continue to strive to be a workplace where all of us feel safe—safe to be different, to celebrate our uniqueness and to know that we are all here for each other. We will be working closely with the Management Committee, our D&I team and our Employee Resource Groups to create programs that promote greater understanding and communication about our disparate worlds. As a firm, we will partner with groups across industries to be a force for positive change.
It is very clear that the world cannot continue down the current path. Amid the intense frustration and anger of this moment, I believe Gandhi’s approach is the better path: “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” As a nation, we need to do better. At DTCC, we will do our part to forge a better future.