Today, December 7, is the first annual Day of Understanding, a day for CEO Action signatory companies – including Symantec – to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion. Symantec will be participating in the Check Your Blind spots tour next Wednesday, December 12, on the Mountain View campus.
Why do we need the Day of Understanding? What spawned this?
In Dallas, Texas, on September 6 of this year, an unarmed Black man, Botham Jean, was shot and killed in his own home by Amber Guyger, a white off-duty police officer. Guyger mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and believed he was an intruder. Botham Jean was an employee of PwC.
PwC Chairman Tim Ryan knew that he had the responsibility to do something about the senseless killing. But this was no knee-jerk reaction on Ryan’s part; he has a strong record of talking about the things that many people – and many large corporations – don’t traditionally want to talk about. For example, only days after taking the role of Chairman in July of 2016 two other black men – Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana – were shot by police offers, Ryan begun having conversations about race inside PwC.
In response to the more recent killing of Jean, Ryan sent an email to all employees that said, in part, “Take time to understand the experiences our underrepresented minorities – and especially, in this situation, our black colleagues – experience in everyday life so that we can all be better co-workers, friends, and allies.”
Some people warned him against having conversations about race in the workplace, but Ryan knew it was the right thing to do. And he knew the conversation had to expand beyond the walls of PwC, and thus Jean’s killing gave rise to the Day of Understanding.