Leaders Speak: What must change after the murder of George Floyd

This time, it is different. The voices of outrage and despair over the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd are not just coming from the community and the streets. They are coming from leaders across many organizations and across the world. They resonate in the anguished letters of CEOs, the calls to action by entire companies or single employees, and in unhesitating statements from high-level government and military officials.

These leaders join millions of protesters around the world in demanding concrete, continuous action to end the racial violence and corrosive inequality that have destroyed so many black lives and dreams. We gathered the words of a few of these leaders here. We hope they encourage you to forge a better culture and a better dialogue among the people in your own organization, and in the larger world outside, which at long last may be readying itself for a profoundly positive change.

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“I sat down several times to write this letter, but stopped each time. My eyes welling up with tears. This is personal. Over this weekend, over this last week, over a lifetime punctuated by sweltering summers of discontent.  … We can replace our windows and handbags, but we cannot bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and too many others. Each of these black lives matter.”

Jide Zeitlin 

Chairman and CEO of Tapestry, Inc.

“We must dismantle white supremacy. Silence is NOT an option.

The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning.”

-Ben and Jerry’s

“People are feeling exhausted about us talking about racism. Try living it to know how exhausting it is to live it.  Those who cannot take talking about it, they haven’t lived it to know how much that it eats you from within. So, we need to make sure that we create conditions that will make people feel and touch the changes that are coming into their lives.”

 -Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

“”Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America”

-Nike

“LinkedIn really looks like business as usual to me this afternoon. Talk about an echo chamber! Scrolling through my feed you’d think that the business world is an alternate reality to what is happening on the outside.

What happened to George Floyd was disgusting and I’ve already spoken about it at length on my personal social networks, but that doesn’t mean the conversation shouldn’t be had on here too.”

-Siji Onabanjo

 BIMA Hot 100 Award Winning Growth Director

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Kaleth O. Wright

Chief Master Sergeant, USAF

“This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege.”

-Tim Cook

CEO, Apple

 

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