Bates News - 06-04-20

CEO Message: Standing up to Racial Injustice

image: Adobe Stock

To my valued colleagues, clients, and community:

Over the past week I have struggled to find the right words to express my feelings about the events unfolding in our country. I have also debated whether to make a public statement.  However, I think the time has come for me to stand up and speak out from my position as a leader.  I have been horrified by the deaths, incarcerations, and racial inequalities of Black Americans and our country’s inability or unwillingness to make the changes to stop them.  I am deeply saddened by the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week as well as so many other black lives that have been lost over too many years.  While I am dismayed by the violence and destruction that have since followed, I recognize that civil disobedience can be an important catalyst for change.

It is time for us to come together to create change actively and urgently on both systemic and individual levels.  The acts of racism, discrimination and violence must end.  Institutional racism built into our core systems of housing, education, and jobs must be recognized and replaced by opportunities for all.  I am using this forum to state that I stand in solidarity with those fighting to eradicate racial injustice, and I pledge to learn how to be an ally to and actively support the Black community. 

Bates is a firm that has always embraced and thrived on change.  Right now, and into the future we will embrace the call for change among us to support and champion anti-racist values.  Over the coming months Bates will critically re-examine itself and its decisions and look for other ways to promote and uphold our values.  Last year we joined Partners in Diversity, a local non-profit focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, which gives our team opportunities to participate in workshops and discussions, as well as access to their job board.  We also added a dedicated recruiter to our People and Culture team to help build a quality and diverse pipeline of candidates.

I encourage you to stand with me, and I am seeking to partner with others to open my eyes to even greater possibilities for inclusion and equality.

Finally, I end with this powerful quote from Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative:

“I’m sixty years old and have been practicing law for thirty-five years. I have a lot of honorary degrees and went to Harvard. And I still go places where I am presumed dangerous. I have been told to leave courtrooms because the presumption was that I was the defendant and not the lawyer. I have been pulled out of my car by police who pointed a gun on me. And I can just tell you that, when you have to navigate this presumption of guilt, day in and day out, and when the burden is on you to make the people around you see you as fully human and equal, you get exhausted. You are tired. And I would argue that the black people in the streets are expressing their fatigue, their anger, and their frustration at having to live this menaced life in America.”

I look forward to further dialogue and action. 

– Jennifer   

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