I have witnessed racism first hand, both personally and in my professional life. We know that racism happens throughout the world, but I need neither be a business leader nor a parent of children of color to have been touched and transformed by our response to racism.
Everyone experiences racism in one form or another. How it impacts us may differ, but to eliminate racism, we must all take a stand – and it starts with awareness.
Kodak’s stand against racism takes place every day. As our company’s Global Diversity Director, I and Kodak’s senior executives lead our efforts to ensure that our workplaces are free of harassment, and that our employees are treated with dignity, fairness and respect.
The key is that we act to prevent discrimination and harassment in our workplaces. We do this in several ways:
- The first of our Kodak Values sets forth an expectation that we treat others with respect for the dignity of the individual.
- Our senior executives set diversity and inclusion goals for themselves and their operations, and are accountable for meeting those goals.
- We offer the employee networks representing diverse constituencies at Kodak the opportunity to engage with our senior leaders, and to lead education and awareness-building sessions open to all employees.
- We require employees to complete an annual review of Kodak’s policies that help enable an engaged, inclusive workforce free of discrimination and harassment.
- We actively work to develop and sponsor diversity within our global workforce.
- We reach out and partner with members of our community who share a commitment to ending racism and to build a thriving and diverse environment.
We know that our continued engagement in diversity and inclusion, and against racism, is essential.
Kodak is one of hundreds of organizations that have raised their hands in support of the YWCA’s mission and vision statement, “The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all”. This statement embodies Kodak values. In what has become a movement that we observe annually, the
April 26 “Stand Against Racism” observance asks companies, universities, schools, and other organizations to hold an event, private or public, where participants gather to take a pledge to work against racism. You can learn more about this endeavor at www.standagainstracism.org.
It’s true that we are a society touched and transformed by our response to racism, but racism doesn’t own us. What it does is challenge us to take a stand and transform our workplaces and communities. “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi. So when we encounter racism, confront it, decry it, and take action to prevent its spread. And, just as importantly, let’s positively promote equality and fairness for all. Let’s recognize and celebrate our uniqueness and differences and harness this in a way that is beneficial to our employees, customers, organizations and our children. Let’s foster hope in the hearts of our young and encourage their vision of a world of equality and peace. They can see it, feel it, and live it.