We have to be allies and we must act.
George Floyd, a black man, died last week in Minnesota after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes. Nearly 3 of those minutes, he was unresponsive. His cries of “I can’t breathe” were ignored.
In February, a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot by a white father and son while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood. It took months for arrests to be made.
And, in March, Breonna Taylor — a black woman and Emergency Medical Technician who worked tirelessly to serve her community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Louisville, Kentucky — was killed in her home when three police officers forcibly entered her apartment in the middle of the night.
Though hundreds of miles apart, these are not isolated issues. There are far too many other examples of racism, inequities and injustice. For example, the recent incident in Central Park where a white female called the police on an African American male who was simply bird watching and asked her to put her dog on a leash.
These events are deeply upsetting and unsettling to me. And I recognize that for many of my friends and colleagues these emotions are deep and personal.
As I reflect, I also thought of the other recent catastrophic events … the global COVID-19 pandemic … and the 500-year flooding that wiped out homes, businesses and property near our global headquarters. These have forced us at Dow to respond, adjust and find a way like we have never before. And, they have forced us to connect to our humanity and to support one another to overcome these challenges.
Our response to issues of racism, inequities and injustice should be no different.
We know that hate, bias and racial division all remain woven into the fabric of our society, and we condemn these actions in the strongest of terms. We stand together with our family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to fight for change. This means proudly living Dow’s core values of Respect for People and Integrity.
At Dow, one of the four pillars of our ambition is to be the most inclusive materials science company in the world. Incidents like these reinforce why we must take deliberate actions every day to ensure that everyone feels like they belong. When people come to work, we want them to know they are part of Team Dow and that their individuality is valued because it makes us better and it makes us stronger. But, more than that, we reflect our core values to the world, and we advocate to make the places we live and work more inclusive.
But it’s not just up to the African American community to fight the racism these incidents reflect. It’s up to all of us, especially those of us who would likely never personally experience a situation like this.
We have to be allies and we must act.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, there is no question that allies have been critical to the advancements we’ve made in terms of equality in recent history. Similarly, allies to the African American community do and will continue to play a critical role in addressing this challenge as well. That starts with moving beyond fear and taking action. It could be having courageous conversations with family members and loved ones. It could be engaging with people who don’t look like you. Or it could be giving of our time or resources to organizations looking to address racism and inequality. It means, when we see injustice and inequity, we cannot be silent. We must stand up and speak out.
As a leader, but more importantly as a human being, I’m committing to act on behalf of those who deal with racism, bigotry and the threat of violence everyday simply because of the color of their skin…starting with Team Dow. In keeping with this commitment and our commitments as a company to building an inclusive culture, I will be calling on our leadership team to ensure we are in fact doing all we can do to effect change.
There’s a lot of work to do here to overcome hundreds of years of systemic oppression, but I am committed to helping Team Dow find a way.
Jim Fitterling, Chairman and CEO