January 18, 2021
We are living in unique times. On one hand, we are forging new bonds and unifying in new ways for a better world. On the other, we are more divided than ever. And while we may be more compelled today to back a cause in which we believe, current circumstances keep us sidelined in our homes to protect our health and safety. We want to speak up, but we feel silenced. We want to act, but we feel benched.
As a Black man, I’m asked quite often about my thoughts on social injustice and civil unrest. Most of the time, it’s my white friends and colleagues who want to know my take on current events. More conversations about systematic racism are happening today, and I’m grateful for the awakening. But there’s also a lot of unanswered questions and feelings of hopelessness.
What can we do to change things? How can we make a difference? Can this be fixed? I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but here’s what I do know. We cannot wait for others to come up with the answers. We cannot wait for others to fix this. And we cannot be overwhelmed by this challenge in front of us. It’s not an option to sit back and just hope that one day we will be judged, not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.
We must take action and keep moving forward. Maybe you start with baby steps. It could be something that may seem inconsequential, something that barely registers or is hardly noticed. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Our FINN Partners office in Nashville took action after George Floyd’s murder. We were hurting and needed to do something, but we weren’t sure where to start. A few gathered and discussed starting a diversity and inclusion committee, but we decided to call it by a different name. We came up with the Anti-Racism Action Committee.
About one-third of our office voluntarily joined our ARAC group right away. Our mission: To listen, learn and take action. We’ve met weekly since June, and it’s making a difference. It’s moving us forward and giving us hope.
FINN Partners took a similar step and created a company-wide Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee. That group, about 100 strong, has already made progress in a short amount of time by developing several programs designed to combat racism and foster unity.
FINN Partners now recognizes Juneteenth as a company holiday, has created a matching donation program to encourage employees to financially support more than 20 social and racial justice organizations, and approved the implementation of several training and recruitment programs. These efforts are making a difference, one step at a time. We are moving in the right direction.
In times like these, I am reminded of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man whose legacy we celebrate today, January 18:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Standing still is not an option any longer. Take action and keep moving forward.