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Dear Friends,

The recent deaths of black Americans at the hands of the police, and the on-running history and even increase in violence and harassment toward African Americans in the United States is heartbreaking and disturbing. At Frederickson Partners, we mourn the lives lost, the people harassed, the discrimination experienced, and where we all now find ourselves in June 2020.

As a country, we have seen the recent video of police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis, and for many of us that may have been the first time that we’ve seen a hate crime in action. Most of us were shocked and horrified to see multiple cops kill a man by cutting off his ability to breathe. I know I was. After that, wanting to participate in protest, I took my 10-year-olds to a demonstration where we all knelt on one knee for nine minutes of silence. This is the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin took to end Mr. Floyd’s life, I’m glad that my kids had the opportunity to learn firsthand about our first amendment right to protest.

I think all of us reading this would like to know how we can make a permanent dent in racism and discrimination so that this kind of racial violence doesn’t happen in America. The weak and divisive leadership from the White House that has caused tens of thousands of unnecessary COVID-19 deaths and left our nation in search of guidance. Unfortunately, racist bullies now feel empowered. We have lost members of our black communities as a result of the actions of baton and gun-wearing police for too long.

Amidst this social insecurity we are now seeing an uprising of citizens in America, and across the world demanding that Black Lives Matter and that the police be held responsible for their actions. It’s encouraging to see a broad coalition of people, not only youth but others, demand that we finally do something to make change. Some governors such as Gavin Newson here in California are taking the lead and making a difference. But this uprising is started by the people and will be won by the people.

“How can we help?" is a complex question and change must come from so many angles. How can those of us as individual citizens, corporate leaders, and executive search consultants (like my team) take hold of this momentum and help make a lasting difference? We are all in positions of influence in some sphere of work or of our communities. Personally, I have spent most of my life fighting for desegregation, integration, diversity and now Black Lives Matter. Although I’m by no means an expert, here are some ways to consider helping:

As an individual:

  • Donate to the NAACP, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Group and the Anti-Defamation League. These are well-run organizations whose members include attorneys who can fight at the court level where change must happen.
  • Follow Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero and other groups that are taking deliberate actions to end violence towards black people.
  • Be visible, be heard, demand change Attend protests, write to your elected officials, ask your police chief and mayor about their policies, and demand to see their statistics.

As a corporate leader:

  • Practice intentional desegregation and integration of your workforce through quantifiable, actionable, results-producing Diversity & Inclusion activities. Post your D&I values, policies, practices, and statistics. Be open, be honest, and demand improvement. If your slate of candidates doesn’t have enough diversity on it, request that the recruiters work on it until it does. Make your job descriptions inclusive. Screen for values, not culture. And challenge and stop ‘white’ or ‘old-boy’ culture biases, which can even thrive and be prevalent in enterprise sales organizations and tech unicorns. It's toxic. And exclusionary. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
  • In our practice, we can take the D&I advisory that we offer to our clients with every project and instead of making it an opt-in, embed it in every search we do. That means teaching our clients to screen for qualifications, not just past experience; to include rather than exclude; and to make diversity a priority. In many cases this also means examining our own assumptions and established habits.
  • Do not accept the status quo. Do not accept “Yes, but.” Make diversity happen, no matter what.

As we continue to mourn the deaths of George Floyd and others, let’s make sure that we change ourselves and our actions permanently, not just right now. Let’s not make this just a trending idea or a phase. Let’s make this a new reality.

Take care,
Valerie
650.614.0220
valerie@fredricksonpartners.com