Dear Colleagues, Clients, and Community:
I wanted to share with all of you my message from this week’s Town Hall: Cartoon / Animated Character Day.
First, thank you to our colleagues who are working tirelessly on behalf of our clients who have suffered displacement and/or loss due to the wildfires. That is how we keep our promises – being there when it matters most. We all should be proud. We all must remain vigilant.
For our virtual Town Hall, I chose female superheroes for my cartoon background. It’s a great opportunity to recognize women and, consistent with ABD’s 2020 theme, ELEVATE equity. On September 17, during our Work Love Play Lead series, we will hear from an amazing woman, Adrienne Bankert, who will discuss her book, “Your Hidden Superpower,” which all employees have received. Have you all noticed the Black female superhero image on our website? May our clients and community know what’s important to us not just by what we say but by what we do. We are very fortunate to have amazing women in our company, including women leaders who are paving the way for greater equity in our company and our industry. If you haven’t, please check our women’s ERG, ABDHer, and the LeadHer series.
Cartoon superheroes are fantasy, but we have so many examples of true superheroes in our history. Here’s one. Beneath my cape, I’ve got the UCLA logo on the front of my shirt, and, as you can see, the number 42 on the back of my shirt. Jackie Robinson, the great UCLA baseball player, broke the racial barrier when he became the first Black American in Major League Baseball. His number 42 is retired in every MLB club and stadium.
Another superhero athlete was Wilma Rudolph. She overcame scarlet fever and infantile paralysis where she had to wear a leg brace until age 9, only to become a 3-time Olympic gold medal winner and recognized as “the fastest woman on earth.”
Of course, it’s not just athletes. Frederick Douglas was a superhero. A slave, he taught himself how to read and paid the price with beatings and punishment for trying to become educated, only to eventually escape and become one of the greatest, most articulate voices for abolition.
Who could have imagined we would have a Black President? Obama paved the way.
Franklin Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waste down yet served 4 presidential terms.
And we have examples of great collective achievements in overcoming significant odds: The Revolutionary War – The British had the most powerful military in the world – 50,000 strong plus another 30,000 German Mercenaries. Yet, the Colonists prevailed.
The Abolishment of slavery was a collective effort. Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights – Collective efforts. LGBTQ Rights – who could have imagined at the start of the movement that same-sex marriage would eventually become a right?
ABD colleagues and clients, we have been facing major challenges these past 6 months: Covid-19, Social Justice Uprisings following the George Floyd murder, rioting and violence, a political cycle that is dividing America, and catastrophic wildfires. And, as if that is not enough, we have yet another police shooting on our collective consciousness. May God bring Jacob Blake healing. May God bring our country healing.
In the face of these trials, let us remember the many, many examples of superheroes, the many, many examples of overcoming great odds. ABD Team, we will stay true to our values. We will lean on each other and be there for each other, especially for those who are fearful, sad, angry, depressed. While human beings are fragile, and while the human condition is flawed, we must anchor ourselves to our values, which include the goals and mission of our DE&I Charter. In our June 3 Town Hall addressing the George Floyd murder, I said we must find answers in love. I pointed to one of our DE&I Charter goals, which is “to drive acceptance and LOVE in ABD.” And, may I again quote MLK:
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
Team, it is WORK that has brought us together. It is LOVE that keeps us together and brings us dignity. And it is PLAY that enables us find balance in the face of adversity.
Our Work Love Play ethos may feel out of balance right now, but it remains our ethos. And, together, we will get to the other side of the immense challenges we now face.
Please take care of yourselves and be there for each other.
– Kurt de Grosz