FSG condemns structural racism in all its forms and stands with Black people who have been excluded from our country’s vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Please read our full statement as well as personal reflections from my co-CEO Lauren Smith.
I am heartbroken, disgusted, and saddened by George Floyd’s murder as well as the countless previous episodes of violence and injustice against Black people. And it’s gut-wrenching to watch our communities further torn apart as those calling for racial justice are met with additional police brutality and violence in our streets.
As co-CEO of a social impact consulting firm, I know my professional position affords me a platform and voice in this moment. And I know that if I am silent, I am complicit. Yet personally, I am struggling with what to say and how to say it. As a White male, I won’t ever feel the cumulative pain, trauma, grief, and fear Black people experience in this country. Without lived experience, I worry that anything I say will lack credibility or be inadequate in this moment. But I don’t want my hesitation to result in being a silent bystander when our country desperately needs more anti-racist voices and actions.
This is a leadership test for so many of us. So what will I say and do? I think about this on three levels:
Our people and culture: FSG’s leaders and staff, particularly people of color, are reeling with pain and trauma. I want our people to process, to be vulnerable, and to support one another as human beings who have reached their limits with racial violence and injustices layered on top of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and home isolation. I will listen and learn. I will offer grace and space.
Our clients and partners: Our work advising foundations and companies has evolved significantly over our 20-year history, and in recent years we have explicitly sought to identify opportunities to address racial inequities with our clients and partners. But not often enough and not deeply enough. All too frequently racial equity aspirations get diluted by those in power, often White executives and board members, who bristle at doing the requisite reckoning and repair work that must precede meaningful dismantling of structural racism. In this moment, with so many philanthropic and corporate leaders dipping their toes into addressing structural racism, I want FSG’s work to help those leaders put both feet in the water and have the courage and stamina to lead and affect equitable change inside and outside their organizations.
Our organizational commitment: Yesterday, my fellow co-CEO, Lauren Smith, and I posted a joint statement titled “Where We Stand.” In it, we condemn structural racism in all its forms and commit to going deeper in using FSG’s position, power, and skills to partner with others who are building more equitable systems. We also acknowledge that we haven’t always spoken up or gone deep enough in addressing structural racism.
Now, more than ever, I hope we can channel our collective pain and sadness toward undoing our painful legacy of structural racism and building more equitable systems and structures for our current and future generations.