Readers of this blog know that my posts tend to be on the light side – even when addressing subjects I regard as important, I find it hard to avoid at least a touch of sarcasm or irony. Each posting also includes a picture intended to be humorous.
This is not a usual posting, however. This time, I’m writing from my heart on a subject that can’t be treated with humor, irony, or sarcasm. And no pictures this time. It’s about our country’s heritage and our future, and I’m about as serious as I can be.
The subject in question is race, or race relations. I know I am not alone in being profoundly upset about recent developments. But what really upsets me is that where we are today is really not about recent developments. Rather, our country is coping with what may be its original, 400 year-old sin, slavery, and the legacy of that original sin that even 150 years later we can’t seem to shake.
We can and must do more and do better. One of the many posters I saw on TV during the protests was one saying “Silence is Violence.” I agree. If we stay silent in the face of discrimination, its manifestations, and its consequences, we will at best find ourselves exactly where we are today 150 years from now (assuming that we don’t destroy ourselves or our planet before that). At worst, we will do just that – destroy ourselves. We need to examine and change our institutions, our practices and, frankly, our minds and the minds of those around us.
Lest you think that this post has nothing to do with corporate governance, corporations are not exempt from my exhortations. Too many boardrooms and c-suites lack meaningful representation of women and minorities. Too many companies say things like “our people are our most important asset” but don’t act accordingly. Too many companies don’t understand that by addressing the needs of their communities, customers, and other constituencies, they will also enhance shareholder value. And too many companies don’t seem to realize that if they fail in these areas they will void the social compact that permits them to exist in the first place.
Like each of us, corporations and other institutions can and must do more and do better, and they must do so now.