In the wake of the horrific death of George Floyd, the African-American man killed by police in May in Minneapolis, corporations large and small across the nation issued a number of statements about diversity, equity and inclusion and where they stood on racial injustice. Here is what some Birmingham-area companies and its leaders had to say.
“I am deeply saddened by the brutal killings of African Americans and injustice toward people of color. Racism, discrimination and intolerance of any kind is unacceptable. At Alabama Power, we are partnering with businesses, communities and governments to help find solutions that promote unity, fairness and acceptance of all people. We all need to seize this moment and move from dialogue to action – and truly move the needle on these very real issues. Each of us has a responsibility to foster an inclusive culture, fight against injustice and create a brighter future for Alabama.”
-Mark Crosswhite, Alabama Power Company
Birmingham Business Alliance Executive Committee
“As an organization headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama and focused on the future growth and health of our city and region, we are keenly aware of our civil rights history and its impact on our people and our business community. The recent deaths of George Floyd and others and related events are a stark reminder that we have profound issues in our country and our communities that need to be confronted. We are experiencing history and have a real opportunity for great and lasting progress if issues of racial inequality and social injustice are honestly and directly addressed.
“The Birmingham Business Alliance exists to promote growth, economic development and prosperity in our region. We believe that diversity, inclusion and economic equality are critical to our success as an organization and to the long-term success of our region and our State. We also believe that we will not achieve our goals if racial inequality and social injustice are allowed to continue.
“The leadership of the BBA is committed to being a leader in the Birmingham region in the effort to create positive change, and we are confident that our business community fully supports this commitment. The BBA has been working hard to develop a new strategic plan, and diversity and inclusion will be a key part of every aspect of that plan. Despite our deep sadness over recent events and current unrest, the BBA is optimistic about the opportunity we now have to make this a period of progress – one that will create more opportunities for all of our citizens and make us a better and stronger city and region for the next generation.”
The BBA Executive Committee is a 14-member body consisting of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons; UAB President Ray Watts; Nelson Bean, Synovus Bank Division CEO; Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite; Gregory Curran, Maynard Cooper & Gale chairman; Nancy Goedecke, Mayer Electric CEO; Jim Gorrie, Brasfield & Gorrie CEO; Joe Hampton, Spire president; Dawn Sharff, Bradley managing partner; Sanjay Singh, Pack Health; Mark Tarr, Encompass Health CEO; John Turner, Regions Bank CEO and Tim Vines, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama CEO.
Birmingham Education Foundation
“Like most parents, I worry about my two kids (Jack and Kate) sometimes because I love them so much. All of my worries are routine because I am a privileged white man and they are privileged white kids. They will not be subject to the same scrutiny, risk, violence, racism, and discrimination as their classmates, friends, and peers because of their privilege. They won’t be murdered on camera (and off camera) with justice delayed or just outright denied. I won’t suffer the toxic stress white supremacy places on my friends of color who are parenting and just living in this environment.
This is the responsibility of people with privilege to tear this down. It is our responsibility to listen to our peers of color, not dismiss them or their experiences, and do our part to be an informed, supportive ally to them as individuals in our homes, workplaces and our society generally. Because of my unearned privilege, I’m in rooms my friends of color are not in. It’s my job to speak up in those rooms and open those rooms up to my friends of color.
I am deeply imperfect as a person and an ally to my friends and colleagues of color. I will do better because I have to do better. For Jack and Kate and their friends and as the leader of an organization that is diverse and strives to be inclusive and predominantly African-American students. At the Birmingham Education Foundation and throughout any place where I have the opportunity, I commit to listen, provide space and resources, and advocate for the wellness of my colleagues so they and their families can be successful personally and professionally.
Black Lives Matter.”
-J.W. Carpenter, Birmingham Education Foundation
“Like you, I am deeply saddened and concerned about the acts of senseless violence and injustice that we have recently witnessed across the country. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, as well as the racial attack against Christian Cooper, are all very distressing. A weekend of protests throughout our country – many of them in our communities – followed these events. In some instances, peaceful protests turned to violence, and that has compounded the emotional stress that many of our associates and customers are feeling. As parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends and Regions teammates, I know we want peace and healing for each other and our communities.
Reflecting on these tragic events and our path forward, I am even more proud of the culture of inclusion we are building at Regions. Dedicating time, as we have, to deeper conversations and richer dialogue around culture and heritage is helping us better understand each other. In turn, we must take those conversations back to our homes and communities, in hopes that we can do our part to drive change.
I hope that you take time this week to check in with each other and show compassion. We must all be willing to step outside our comfort zones and have authentic conversations about what’s going on around us. Let’s vow to listen with a goal to understand and a desire to heal the pain we feel.
Now, more than ever, is the time for us all to further strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We must have a collective purpose to ensure we’re fostering a culture that acknowledges the pain and struggle people around us are experiencing. I’m confident as a Regions team, we will act on this purpose and bring to life our values and mission in new and meaningful ways.
Thank you for standing with me to express care, understanding and support for our Regions teammates most impacted by these events. Let’s ‘Stand Together’ to make life better for our fellow associates, customers and communities.”
-John Turner, Regions Financial Corp.
“The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and the protests that have followed have shaken our country to its core. These most recent events remind us that our nation has a long way to go when it comes to offering equality and justice for all. We must acknowledge the anxiety, anger, pain and fear being felt by many, especially those in the Black community. We must work together to create communities free of racism and violence. Personally, I am reflecting on inclusion, what it means to be an ally, and our roles as leaders and citizens. I recognize that I can’t fully appreciate what many of you are experiencing, but I know many of you are hurting. I want you to know that I stand with you. At Protective, we condemn racism in all of its forms, and we remain committed to providing a work environment that is free from discrimination – a place where each person feels welcomed, respected, valued and heard.
Last June, I signed the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion. The pledge is a visible and important demonstration of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and opportunity. The first commitment of the pledge says that we will create a culture that is trusting and safe, a place where we can have complex and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion.
Now it is my responsibility, the responsibility of our leaders and each of our teammates to deliver on this commitment. We must also be advocates at every level in society. This is a complex and systemic issue, and to affect change, we must work together to advance education, social justice and economic equality. Knowing where to start can be tough, but an important thing we can all do is work to build trust with one another, create a sense of belonging and demonstrate we value people as individuals.
This is personal for me, and it should be for each of us. We must all find ways to understand and create the change we most desperately need.”
-Rich Bielen, Protective Life
UAB School of Medicine
“In recent days we have seen an outpouring of deep anguish, fear, sadness, and rage in communities across the nation. Ours is a city marked by a painful history of violence against black Americans, and we here in Birmingham know all too well that the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are just the latest examples of racial injustices that have plagued our country since before its founding. On behalf of the UAB School of Medicine, I want to acknowledge the immense impact these events are having on people throughout our community and across the nation.
As a leading academic medical center, we are working to identify and eliminate the racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist in health care. Today, we publicly reaffirm our dedication to lead in the fight to dismantle those disparities, as well as the ideologies and systems that sustain America’s painful, pre-existing condition: racism. We call on everyone to strengthen their personal commitment to rooting out racism, oppression, and inequality in whatever ways they can.”
-Dr. Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., UAB School of Medicine
“I now live in Birmingham, but spent more than 20 years in Minneapolis, so I feel strongly connected to two areas where these feelings are particularly acute right now. But regardless of where you are, these tragedies, and the emotions they evoke, affect all of us.
I want to be clear that there is no place for racial injustice in our world today. Our team at Shipt believes all of us can make a difference. Shipt employees and leadership in Birmingham are supporting their communities, from street clean-up to financial support of social justice organizations. We want you to know that we’re thinking about you, your well-being, and your safety.”
-Kelly Caruso, Shipt