I’d like to share some thoughts with you about the current state of unrest in the US, springing from the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the many similar incidents in the US that preceded it.
Simply put, the United States is hurting. It is hurting because generations of systematic, institutionalized racism and racial injustice – directed especially toward African Americans – has gone unchecked for far too long. The recent deaths of Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville; the racist sentiment expressed to Christian Cooper in New York; the discriminatory behavior directed toward Asian-Americans during the current COVID-19 pandemic; and anti-Latinx sentiment are not new phenomena. These incidents have occurred because calls to raise awareness and defeat the vestiges of historic racism have too often been met with silence, indifference, or denial.
We are a global organization, and we are proud to be a highly diverse team of more than 3,000 people, and rightfully so. We choose to express our commitment through our values, in our own representation in the firm, in how we conduct ourselves, and in what we do for others to support our communities. However, many of our African-American colleagues know the legacy and the current reality of racial injustice all too well, and they are suffering, stressed, and distressed by systemic racism in ways that most of us will never fully understand. This moment, though, presents an opportunity for all of us to declare who we are and what we stand for. It presents an opportunity for education, reflection, and action. It is a moment to say that the lives and dignity of every one of us matters equally.
Reed Smith has a collective conscience. Our Core Values call on us to treat each other with dignity and respect at all times, to prize our differences, and to drive progress in our communities and our firm with impact. Therefore, our first response to racial injustice and the consequences of it that we see across the US must be, openly and unambiguously, to reject it as antithetical to our values. Next, we must do something about it, such that we can honestly say to each other and ourselves that we are driving progress and bringing about change in our firm and in our communities toward a more just society. We must proceed with urgency, humility, optimism and fortitude.