Aviation

Boeing’s CEO commits to confronting racism

Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun has committed to take action on racism, off the back of ongoing protests over police brutality towards the BIPOC community in the United States.

In a letter to employees, Calhoun made it clear that the leadership at his company will have zero tolerance for “bigotry of any kind”, and said the response from his employees to that message had been “overwhelming”.

“Many of you expressed your appreciation. Some shared deeply moving stories about the effect of discrimination in your own lives,” Calhoun wrote.

“A few frankly questioned the commitment of the company to the values I expressed.

“But I was most affected by the large number of you who wanted to see us – and me – do more.”

Calhoun promised Boeing would turn up the volume on dialogue within the company on diversity and inclusion, and doubling its US$25 million ($36.5 million) already invested in partnerships to create opportunities for marginalised communities.

The Boeing CEO’s message on improving diversity and inclusion comes shortly after Expedia CEO Peter Kern vowed his company would do more to promote diversity in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

You can read what Calhoun had to say to his employees in full below:

Team,

A little over a week ago, after seeing George Floyd die under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, I posted my reaction to his death, my condemnation of discrimination and harassment, and my expectation that Boeing and its leaders will have zero tolerance for bigotry of any kind in this company.

Your response to that message has been overwhelming. Many of you expressed your appreciation. Some shared deeply moving stories about the effect of discrimination in your own lives. A few frankly questioned the commitment of the company to the values I expressed.

But I was most affected by the large number of you who wanted to see us – and me – do more.

I’ve read your responses. I’ve listened carefully in numerous talks with Boeing people all over the enterprise, in lengthy discussions with my executive team last week, and in conversations with my counterparts at other companies. 

I am proud of Boeing leaders’ commitment to this and the progress we have made over the years. 

But all my conversations over the last two weeks have reinforced for me an obvious point: what’s happening across the US now goes beyond discrimination and harassment, beyond diversity and inclusion. What we’re seeing is the ongoing human cost of historic and persistent racial inequality in the United States.

And a second obvious point: as a company and as human beings, we need to work even harder at doing something about it.

Boeing has long been committed to the principles of diversity and inclusion, and the efforts we have made – often quietly and behind the scenes – have been meaningful.

But here’s what we’ll do to take that commitment to the next level:

  • We’re going to turn up the volume on dialogue within the company. I am encouraging all Boeing leaders to engage on this subject in a way that is authentic to them and meaningful to the people they lead. These won’t be – in fact, should not be – comfortable discussions. Earlier today, we rolled out a conversation guide for leaders and other resources to help you through them.
  • We’re going to redouble our determination to drive out behaviours that violate our values and injure our colleagues. For anyone wondering what that means, here’s an example: about 10 days ago, a Boeing employee made an abusive and harassing racial remark to a colleague in one of our facilities. He was quickly suspended, never returned to the workplace, and is no longer a Boeing employee. When these things happen, you will know about them. I am always transparent and will be so especially on the subject of prejudice.
  • We are going to strengthen our expectations for living our values at Boeing by raising the bar for progress on key measures of equity and opportunity for our people — and making ourselves accountable for clearing that bar.
  • Over the next four years, we’re going to double the US$25 million we have already invested in partnerships that create a range of opportunities for marginalized communities.
  • We’re going to reach out to other companies on ways to drive broad and consistent change across our industry.

Every member of my team has committed personally to confronting racism and building more inclusive opportunities – both inside our company and in our communities. That means, among other things, understanding more about the role that law enforcement and the criminal justice system can play in overcoming, not perpetuating, the unfair gap that divides the experience of our black colleagues and neighbours from the rest of us.

This is not an issue of the week or the month or even the year. These commitments will be an even more permanent and visible aspect of how Boeing conducts itself as a company. It’s the part we can play in capturing this moment to help solve a problem that has for so long prevented our society from being as inclusive and just as it should be.

Stay safe.

Dave


Featured image credit: YouTube/KING 5

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