Like so many of you, I’ve spent the last few days attempting to grapple with recent events – the unfathomable death of George Floyd and far too many others, the clashes between protestors and police across the country – all while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionally impact people of color and threaten us all. The injustices facing the Black community are intolerable and deeply troubling. As a country, we are facing a frightening discord that has shaken us all to our core.
Having grown up during apartheid in South Africa, I am all too familiar with the dangers and disastrous effects of inequality and persecution based on the color of one’s skin. For this reason, I long ago made a commitment to myself to do what I can to break down the barriers that divide us and prevent us from reaching the shared greatness we are capable of.
The issues we face as a nation are deep and profound, but we must work together to make a difference. At BDO, we have always been a community with zero tolerance for discrimination and racism. We are anchored in our core purpose – helping people thrive every day. It is this foundation, along with our core values, that we must turn to in order to help us address the ongoing challenges we face. They are particularly poignant in times of uncertainty and unrest.
We need always remember why we are here – to help people flourish and succeed. This is our mandate – one that demands unity, respect, inclusivity, integrity and care. It is our job to take care of ourselves, to take care of each other and to hold one another to a high standard. Our BDO community is built on these values and must continue to promote diversity and inclusion by breaking down silos and valuing diverse voices, thoughts and backgrounds. We must apply this approach to strengthen our world.
We don’t have all the answers and know we have a great deal more to do. But we are a firm, a culture and a community that is not content to sit still – when we see things are broken, we want to fix them. Change starts in our own offices, in our own homes and in our communities. Small changes can lead to sweeping change that transforms our world. We must do this together. Living our purpose demands we choose humanity over hatred and empathy over apathy. Let us help create a world that celebrates our differences rather than shuns them.
As my fellow countryman and great civil rights leader Nelson Mandela once said:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Wayne Berson, on behalf of the BDO Executive Team