This Is Our Moment to Get Involved

09 JUN 2020

Goldman Sachs' Chief Diversity Officer, Erika Irish Brown, shares guidance on contributing to the fight towards social justice and racial equity. 

By Erika Irish Brown

At Goldman Sachs, our community – of all backgrounds – has come together to engage in real and open dialogue about racial inequality, and how we can collectively and individually take steps to effect positive change. I’ve been encouraged by these conversations over the past couple of weeks and the visible leadership and commitment, including the recently announced Goldman Sachs Fund for Racial Equity, created to support the vital work of leading organizations addressing racial injustice, structural inequity and economic disparity.

Last week, Bentley de Beyer, head of Human Capital Management and I co-authored an email to our employees sharing actionable resources and tips on how to get involved and be an ally, including an invitation for managers to join “Starting the Dialogue” sessions with the goal of helping our managers become stronger allies for all diverse professionals.

We believe this guidance can be helpful to anyone who is still uncomfortable addressing the current crisis at work. This is just a recommended starting point and there is much more work to be done, but I am motivated that this time things can be different if we all get involved. Please find a modified version of the e-mail below. If these resources or forums are not available at your company, consider proposing or creating them. Now is the time.

Amid painful acts of racism and discrimination in the US that have reverberated globally, a powerful movement is taking place, calling for social justice reform and racial equity.

David Solomon has urged all of us to “look up,” and check in with each other. At our global townhall, he encouraged us to engage in a real and open dialogue about race in the workplace and society more broadly. We have witnessed empathy and compassion from our people around the globe, and are inspired by our black colleagues’ courage and raw storytelling.

As we seek to contribute to the path forward and effect lasting change, both at our firm and in our communities, we want to emphasize that this is our moment to get involved. The key to unlocking positive change is the realization that we must each be part of the solution – how we react to the circumstances around us truly matters.

  • Are you checking in with your colleagues to understand how they are feeling? Reach out and acknowledge this moment and that this is an issue that affects us all. If you don’t know how to get started, ask your firm’s HR or D&I team for help. Being there for friends and colleagues goes a long way.
  • Have you listened and learned from the lived experiences of black colleagues? It is encouraging to see that black leaders and colleagues have been open to sharing their unique and personal experiences with racism and discrimination in a real and raw manner like Fred Baba did at Goldman Sachs.
  • Have you spent time educating yourself on the deep-rooted history of racism? If not, view The New York Times’ 1619 Project to start.
  • Are you known as an ally? Speak up, call out bad behavior and create an environment of allyship and inclusion by having open conversations. Opt-in to your firm’s affinity networks for additional opportunities to engage.
  • Are you taking time to reflect and recharge – and encouraging those around you to do the same? Carve out time for reflection and learning, and remember to focus on your wellbeing. Understand and lean on the resilience and support resources available at your company - whether it be confidential counseling services or mental health resources.
  • How are you supporting organizations driving progress? Inclusive leadership extends beyond the workplace. Showing up for your community matters – this can mean volunteering or donating to organizations focused on justice and equality or supporting black-owned businesses.

Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, and uncertainty as to what lies ahead, seeing our people stand in unity and ask how they can help drive meaningful change has been motivating. We are at a pivotal moment, and this dialogue is just the beginning.


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn