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Black Lives Matter | A Statement on Leadership & Learning

June 3, 2020 Jennifer McCollum

We are collectively experiencing a tidal wave of grief and anger at the senseless death of George Floyd on May 25. This tragedy follows the police killings of many other people of color and the long history of racial inequality and injustice in this country.

This is an important moment in the United States, and the need for strong and courageous leadership at this critical time has never been higher.

When injustice stands, silence is complicity.  We hear the rage and grief and exhaustion of our Black colleagues, partners, clients.

Here is what we believe:

  • Black Lives Matter. We must face a long and painful history of systemic anti-Black racism and prejudice.
  • There is not one shared American experience, and white people—especially leaders—must seek out diverse voices. We must actively and consciously participate in discourse—but first, we must listen.
  • We have an obligation to educate ourselves and become more self-aware.
  • We must lead inclusively and purposefully act in anti-racist ways.

Our mission at Linkage is to change the face of leadership.  Everything we do is pointed at this ultimate, collective purpose. But amid our optimism for a better, more inclusive future, we watch and feel the events of this week and they remind us—painfully, tragically—that this road is long.

Anti-racism is an act of leadership. It is an act of inclusion, and of lifting the voices of those different from us. But like leadership and inclusion, it must begin with looking inside oneself and doing some hard, uncomfortable work. This is the core of our Purposeful Leadership® Become commitment that those who seek to lead must make to those who follow them.

As part of my own leadership evolution, I am committed to continuing to learn and seek out the information I need to make informed decisions about how I can actively be anti-racist. As a white woman, I acknowledge the inherent privilege I hold and the benefits that have been afforded to me through nothing other than my skin color. I am unable to speak to, or fully understand the experience of people of color in this nation. Because of this, I personally seek out the firsthand experiences and narratives from people of color and anti-racist educational tools and materials, to continually challenge my own ideas about race and privilege.

Here are a few examples of the actions Linkage is taking:

Meaningfully Engage Employees

Every member of our team needs time and space to process. I have tasked my managers with setting aside time this week for employees who would like to discuss what they are experiencing and seeing. With everyone remote, it is especially important for us to find ways to come together in moments of purposeful reflection. Beyond these informal connection points, we have formed an internal committee, which will meet to share educational tools and resources to fight racism and support cultures of inclusion.

As part of these engagement initiatives, it is critical that leaders make these conversations optional and available in a variety of formats, as some employees may be dealing with trauma and may not want to engage in this type of discourse.

Activate Our Platform to Serve as a Resource for Leaders

We will continue to use our platform, data, products, and services to contribute to creating and fostering cultures of inclusion. It is our vision to impact leadership effectiveness and racial and gender equity in organizations globally.

We will deliver timely, relevant content for leaders who are looking to serve their teams and communities. Linkage’s Critical Leadership Conversations series, launched in the early days of the COVID-19 public health crisis, has served as a free resource for leaders looking to manage this complexity and uncertainty. This series will continue with additional programming and will serve as an important opportunity for leaders to hear diverse perspectives on critical topics related to diversity, inclusion, and effective leadership. Stay tuned for more information, as we are planning important conversations to highlight leadership stories about racial inequity and what we as leaders can do to respond.

Live the Commitments of the CEO Pledge

I am a member of the Coalition of CEOs for Diversity and Inclusion, and last year, I signed the CEO Pledge. This pledge outlines a specific set of actions the signatory CEOs will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed, and employees feel comfortable and empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion.

The pledge includes the following:

  • We will continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion.
  • We will share best—and unsuccessful—practices.
  • We will create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors.

The commitments within this pledge can serve as a helpful guideline for CEOs looking to lead during these challenging times. Learn more about the CEO Pledge.

This is a starting point, with no end point. There is much work to be done.

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