While I am empathetic to the many written words I have read in response to the horrific murder of George Floyd, I believe it is incumbent upon the leadership of this country to lead more in deeds than words.
I do not wish to minimize the sentiments from leaders who have either made statements, or financial pledges (or both) – they are real – however the communities we live in, the people we work with and the clients we serve expect more – they want REAL CHANGE, not just real dialogue.
The narrative in our country on income inequality is myopic. While real, income inequality is the consequence, “OPPORTUNITY INEQUALITY” is the root cause.
Whether it be the disparity in education, availability of technology, access to employment opportunities, provision of healthcare, or security of safe housing.
Given our claims as the most advanced country in the world… given our boast that our leader is the leader of the free world… and given it is 2020 (not 1920)… it is time the leadership of this country re-defines AMERICA and the “AMERICAN DREAM”.
We have incorrectly assumed that unbridled capitalism, and the pursuit of profit, is the AMERICAN DREAM.
We are a country of immigrants, of color, of accents, of freedoms…most of whom have one thing in common – when we come, we come with the clothes on our backs, ambition in our minds and love in our hearts!
I too am that immigrant. Of ambition. Of love. Of color.
I came to America as there was no other place in the world where the smartest, brightest, hardest working minds would rather be. Where no one cared what you looked like or ate, where you came from and why… and I wanted so bad to be a part of that fabric.
When I decided to start my company, my co-founder, also an immigrant, and I, shared an unwritten coda – build something that enjoys a virtuous cohesion with the universe it inhabits.
That is not what corporate America is today, and what they have made American capitalism to represent. In its blind pursuit of profit, they have given up on the pursuit of freedom (for all).
To be clear, my co-founder and I believe that economic freedom is key to the pursuit of freedom and for-profit publicly/privately owned companies a must for an equal and balanced society.
That said, capitalism MUST engender a culture that is harmonious with balancing the needs of communities and employees and customers as much as it does shareholders. In fact it is well proven that shareholders will do (very) well if we as companies do well for all constituents.
What I refer to as – IN VIRTUOUS COHESION WITH THE UNIVERSE WE INHABIT.
Early in the formation of our company (www.tresata.com) we made a commitment to BEING a diverse company.
Diversity in all its glorious colors – ones we see (gender, ethnicity, physical disabilities, etc) and the many we don’t (thoughts, ideas, sexuality, upbringing, etc).
That is probably our biggest corporate achievement – that not only did we make the commitment we ACTED on it (we are 50:50 W:M and 50:50 PoC:NoC).
Something that’s worth way more its weight in gold, than being a unicorn!
But then George Floyd happened, and we questioned our past commitment, and felt an urge to up the ante… yet again. Not in words, but in action.
So today, on Juneteenth, we wanted to share with the world what we plan to do next:
- We are doubling down on our commitment to “even the playing field”. We have started work on DESIGNING AN EMPLOYMENT MODEL WHERE WE OVER-INVEST IN DIVERSITY TODAY, TO BUILD A MORE EQUAL FUTURE TOMORROW. We are inviting ideas, working with Black Community Leaders and putting our money where our mouth is by putting everything on the table – investments, mix of new hires, support frameworks and training and education.
- On the topic of education, we are announcing today that Tresata Academy – our AI, data & analytics educational system – will be made AVAILABLE AT NO COST TO ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR, starting with our black community, across all institutions and formats that impart education.
- We are also announcing today that we will offer our SOFTWARE AT NO COST TO ANY ORGANIZATION GEARED TO FIGHTING LEGAL INEQUALITY AND POLICE BRUTALITY.
- And are making a further promise that when we as society, in our efforts to fix the injustices driven by colors of the skin, ask for more (some of which we do not even know yet), OUR COMPANY WILL LEAD, WILL STAND UP AND BE COUNTED, NO MATTER HOW MUCH COURAGE IS NEEDED OF US.
I have also personally decided to spend time with 3 black entrepreneurs each year to help in whichever way I can with their dreams and ambitions. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I am ready when you are.
We cannot let George Floyds needless death be in vain – we need to ensure his legacy is one of positive and permanent change in our country. We need to ensure that this moment is one of action.
We, the citizen leaders of our country, need to be held accountable for creating OPPORTUNITY EQUALITY FOR ALL.
There must have been a subliminal message for us when in AMERICA we were given all the words to spell RACE . I . AM
Yes indeed… RACE is who I AM. And that is my biggest asset.
PS: I must admit that when the world erupted in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, I struggled with my words…a great deal. As a brown person, who moved to America 19 years ago, I have had my fair share of unpleasant experiences with the police and interesting conversations with my children about race and color. None to the extent of what our Black community faces. And were it not for a friend and fellow leader, Richie Prager, and his encouragement to share our story, and help with putting my words on paper, I would have continued to silently struggle with it. So thank you Richie.