Reinforcing our commitment to inclusion
The photo below shows one of my most cherished mementos. It's an autographed model of a World War II P-51 Mustang signed by then-Colonel — now Brigadier General — Charles McGee that I keep in my office. It's from a charity auction celebrating the general and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen — the Red Tails — whose legendary achievements date back to the first half of the last century. Think about that. Their fight was more than 75 years ago.
To me, this model symbolizes heroism, bravery, strength, and perseverance. It is also an ongoing reminder of the inherent contradiction that it represents: one of America's most powerful aerial combat machines, entrusted to the hands of young black men who were valiantly fighting and dying for a nation they loved despite not being recognized and treated as equal members of the society they put their lives on the line for. It also serves as an inspiration and testament to how we can all strive for a better future. Not just for ourselves, but for all of us.
That brings me to the here and now. In the past few weeks, we've seen unconscionable injustice and violence. The wrongful death of an African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of those responsible for enforcing our laws sickens me. It horrifies me. Yet frankly, and unfortunately, it does not surprise me. As we all know, this is far from the only incident of injustice that America has recently endured. These events and subsequent protests dramatically and tangibly highlight the social justice and race relations challenges we face not only in the United States but across the globe. And what we are witnessing are painful reminders that our company has a responsibility to do everything we can to focus on inclusion and advance a culture in which equality and belonging is not only respected, but embraced.
As CEO Roger Krone affirmed, the Leidos executive leadership team and I are fully committed to inclusion. Within our business we reject social injustice and discriminatory practices or behaviors of any kind and nurture an environment where all employees are treated with respect and dignity — one where careers can thrive. We care about every employee's health, safety, and well-being inside and outside of work. We especially recognize the disproportionately negative impact of recent events on our African-American colleagues and our communities — they are significant, disheartening, and frightening. Our shared pain, compounded with the stress of managing our lives in the midst of a global pandemic, is extreme.
We all know that realizing inclusion is not solely the responsibility of one person, one team, or one company. It requires each and every one of us to understand and practice this core value — elevating self-awareness, learning from one another, and holding each other accountable. With that in mind, as a first step in our collective response, I encourage us all to be open to listening to and understanding perspectives that may be different than our own and evolving behaviors and mindsets.
Our journey to ensuring an inclusive culture manifests in all aspects of our workforce, workplace, and society has a long way to go. Together, we will not lose sight of this moment as a major marker that, while we have made tremendous progress, we have important work to do.