Below is the message I sent to BCG’s US-based colleagues on May 31. Since that time, Joe Davis and our North American leadership have announced a set of commitments towards advancing racial equity for Black people both within BCG and throughout our society.
At the same time, we recognize that discrimination is not limited to the United States and can take many forms around the globe. As we reflect on the past few weeks, and on the need to take a more active role in combating injustice in the US, we are also reminded of the need to stand up against injustice everywhere. We’ve asked all of our leaders worldwide to examine what diversity looks like in their market—whether based on race, religion, country of origin, socioeconomic status, gender, or sexual orientation—and ask whether we are doing enough and how we can accelerate our efforts around diversity, inclusion, and equity.
While our hearts are heavy, I am hopeful that this is the start of a global dialogue and further action. At BCG, we will continue to listen, educate ourselves, speak up, talk openly, and work hard to help put an end to racism and injustice in our communities every day.
Dear US colleagues,
Like you, I am shocked, saddened and angry at the events of recent days. The murder of George Floyd, following other recent deaths and actions that illustrate the racism that still exists in our society, is something none of us can forget or forgive. But the implications of that and other images from recent months, combined with the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 and its resulting economic shock on communities of color, do not fall evenly on us.
Over 150 years since the civil war and over 50 years since the civil rights movement, we still live in a country rife with injustice and underlying prejudice. A country where being Black means one cannot feel fully safe to go for a run or go bird-watching, or even just to live a normal life in one’s community. Where the vast majority of law enforcement may be well intended but due to our inability to root out institutional racism, a subset still represent a potential threat, and where Black adults and children feel anxiety that never seems to go away—anxiety related to health, to justice, to personal safety and the safety of friends and family, and a deeper anxiety on whether and when this will actually start to get better.
There are no words I can offer to soothe this pain or relieve this anxiety. I struggle to retain my normal sense of optimism about when and how we can rebuild from the damage of recent weeks and truly move to a more just world. Faced with this intractable problem, we also cannot stand still.
As a community, we can show empathy and support for our colleagues as they struggle to make sense of this and wrestle with their own anxieties. As a firm, we can use our capabilities, access, and influence to make this a better world – in building a stronger public sector, and in helping businesses (including our own) to step up efforts in diversity and inclusion. As a collection of exceptional, values-oriented individuals, we can hope to help society move toward a more just world, with leaders passionately committed to creating opportunity, equality and a better life for all Americans. I’ll continue collaborating with Joe Davis, North American Leaders, and our Black+Latinx Network leaders as we find ways to further our commitments and double down on activities.
These actions will not solve the problems facing our society. But hopefully they can be a source of strength and comfort as we strive to live our purpose and make this a better world for Black Americans to have the same sense of hope, security and opportunity as should be available to all Americans.
Take care, stay safe, and please keep an eye out for each other in these extraordinarily challenging times.
Rich Lesser, President and CEO