The following post was written by our Managing Director, Rick Lowrey
Recently, I took a class through LinkedIn Learning on Diversity, Equity and Belonging (Inclusion). I’m a 60 year-old semi-retired software and technology executive and the question you are asking is, why did I do it? Stating the obvious, there is a general benefit of continued learning – shaping us and how we view and interact in our world. However, there is more to it than just my desire to continue to learn.
I’ve become increasingly concerned about the divide in our country regarding racism, and other exclusionary perspectives. I am a white man, from a fairly upper middle class family, and I believe throughout my life and career, opportunities I had for job growth and enrichment, were not available to many of my colleagues who were non-white or not a male. Heck, even today, I’m part of an eco-system where many senior leaders are both white and male (private equity).
Why am I curious to learn more about this challenge? Along with my professional work, I volunteer with an alumni association of a local chapter of my college fraternity and its international organization. I’m on the board of the alumni association and I sit on a committee for the international organization focused on the fraternity’s policies and practices for diversity, equity and inclusion. Lastly, like all of us, my heritage includes an immigration story of my family coming to this wonderful country. My grandparents from Italy (and one from Ireland) came to America at the beginning of the 20th century to forge a better life for themselves. Heck, my paternal grandfather even changed his last name to “sound more American” because of the challenges of being an immigrant in the early part of the 20th century. Thus, my professional experience, my volunteer experience, and my own personal point of view has led me to this point, where I need to discover more about chasm of inequities facing all of us.
What have I learned/discovered so far? This subject is hard. It pushes you into uncomfortable places when you open your mind to the possibilities that you either are willfully or unknowingly “part of the problem.” So, I seek knowledge to become “part of the solution.” Many who read this post, will immediately think, “I’m not racist.” Good for you. However, what are you (frankly what are we), doing to improve the inequities either at our place of work, or within the social circles of which we navigate. I want my daughters, heck, I want my granddaughter to be viewed and measured based on each of their unique competencies, not on their gender. For me this post is about self-awareness, past failures along with acknowledgement and commitment to be and do better.
I’m not asking you for anything other than to imagine that it truly is possible to judge people only “by the content of their character,” not the color of their skin or gender. I know I have much work ahead of me to continue to learn about this fundamental issue.