Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou details actions Jacobs is taking to speak up, speak out.
Throughout the weekend, people of every race, age, gender and nationality took to the streets by the thousands in their local communities around the world to engage in peaceful demonstrations to promote change. Voices of hope could be heard on social media and television – all focused on reinventing our tomorrow together as a global community. Many asked, ‘Is this a moment or is this a movement?’ And to a person, all said: It’s a movement! Now is the time to focus on the issues of systemic racism and inequality, and the urgent need for police reform to make meaningful and permanent change for the benefit of all people in our communities.
I have heard from many Jacobs employees who shared their personal stories of loss, disrespect, sadness and exhaustion of having the same conversation yet again. I have heard from others who have family members who serve in their local police forces, wanting to be sure it was heard that most who serve are good policemen and women, respectful and caring members of their communities. Still others have written me sharing their thoughts on other injustices, in addition to race, that are going on – and challenging me on whether we were going to take a similar stand on those issues.
My answer to all of these is “YES”! However, our priority right now must be focused on the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others before them – and the broader issue of racial inequality and injustice affecting our black community. Because for too many years, we have acknowledged the issues and then too quickly, broadened the discussion without ever solving what was at the crux. And then the cycle started all over again. Well that cycle has to be stopped. So, as a company we are going to focus on doing our part to get this right, and then we will look more broadly at other things affecting our people and our communities.
Actions speak louder than words
Over the past 10 days we have taken a number of actions that I wanted to share:
My Speak up. Speak Out. message was released internally and on social media, taking a stand on the senseless killing of George Floyd and other innocent black citizens over the past several months.
Harambee, Jacobs’ black employee network, hosted two virtual Courageous Conversation sessions to allow black employees to candidly convey how they are feeling in a safe space, to allow people to listen and grow, and most importantly to support one another. A third session was held this weekend for the children of our employees, and two more virtual courageous conversations are planned for this coming week.
We are also developing a Courageous Conversation guide to help leaders initiate and participate in the tough and sometimes uncomfortable conversations around race and discrimination.
Our leaders are demonstrating their support in a variety of ways, with reach-outs to individual employees or letters of support, including Shelie Gustafson’s inspirational note, Reflections, on the value of empathy in all our conversations.
Last Thursday we offered employees the opportunity to participate in an extended Culture of Caring moment for 8:46 minutes for personal, contemplative reflection on the broad issues of racism and injustice. We repeated this opportunity for our employees on Wednesday, June 10.
We launched the Jacobs Equality Matching Campaign, matching up to $100,000 of employee donations to eligible causes dedicated to inclusion, equality and injustice around the world.
We also made a donation for small businesses that need help rebuilding after the protests, and we encouraged our employees to volunteer in their local communities to help in the clean-up.
And, our mandatory Conscious Inclusion training for all Jacobs employees continues and it is a core program for all of our new hires. Next week, we will be leveraging our new LinkedIn Learning tools to provide new learning opportunities to continue to explore and improve our capabilities to create an inclusive culture.
However, this is only the beginning. I pledge that Jacobs will lead the way in driving change and achieving systemic equality and respect. As a company and as individuals, we must and will expand upon these initial actions to support real solutions within Jacobs and in our communities. I am firmly committed that Jacobs will live our value of inclusion and stand as a global leader internally and externally to drive and achieve real change – creating a tomorrow we can all be proud of, standing together as one Jacobs team.
Steve Demetriou Chair & CEO
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