Detroit’s Top CEOs Speak Out Against Racial Injustice
As appeared first in the Michigan Chronicle
In response to national outrage regarding George Floyd’s murder, various companies such as Nike, Apple, and Ben & Jerry’s have issued statements calling for racial equality. Tuesday, Detroit’s top CEOs followed suit. In a joint statement, alongside Mayor Duggan and Rev. Wendell Anthony, CEOs from Detroit’s top companies such as GM, Quicken Loans, and DTE Energy announced,
“We condemn the acts of injustice in the tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the many other men and women whose lives have been cut far too short. As a show of unity, sensitivity and our collective humanity, we declare our uncompromising support for and the application of equal justice for every American.”
The full list of CEOs calling for and end to discrimination include:
- Mary Barra, Chairman & CEO, General Motors
- Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
- Mark Stewart, Chief Operating Officer, FCA North America
- Jay Farner, CEO Quicken Loans
- Cynthia Pasky, Founder, President & CEO of Strategic Staffing Solutions
- Wright Lassiter, President & CEO, Henry Ford Health System
- Chris Ilitch, President & CEO, Ilitch Holdings
- Dan Loepp, President & CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
- Gerry Anderson, Executive Chairman, DTE Energy
- Gary Torgow, Executive Chairman, TCF Financial Corporation
These CEOs employ more than 600,000 people.
“Like all the leaders here today, we want to be apart of meaningful deliberate change. We will not allow ourselves the passivity of urging others to act. We will act,” said GM CEO Mary Barra.
Although specifics have yet to be released, the CEOs said those actions will be exemplified in a renewed commitment to eliminating workplace bias of any kind, and investing in programs and policies that aid transforming disparities that exist within communities.
“It is important for white America to hear from white America,” said Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of Detroit’s NAACP chapter. “It is important for the business community to engage in their citizenship. They have a stake in this. Other people listen to other people they know that are like them. They can make a difference in law enforcement, legislative bodies, the halls of Congress and the White House.”
“As I think about how we have arrived in this moment, in my humble opinion, the ideology of this fractured state that we are existing comes down to two things, intolerance and indifference,” said Henry Ford Health System’s CEO Wright Lassiter. He added,
“As the world’s most diverse melting pot, we continue to struggle to lift ourselves from our troubled beginnings. The inescapable gravitational force that our history of slavery imparts upon our nation continues to sew seeds that are hurtful, that are insidious, and at times are right in our face.”
Mayor Duggan emphasized the importance of CEOs using their personal voice and not that of a communications director or someone else under them.
“Now there is a whole different generation of business leadership…Business leaders all across the country need to understand that they have to be apart of the change. Their voices and influence have got to be heard,” said Duggan.
This comes on the heels of national outcrying and protests, including several days of protest in Detroit as previously reported by the Michigan Chronicle.
Protests have continued daily since Floyd’s murder and have continued to grow in number. In a time where many people may feel hopeless or powerless, the Michigan Chronicle would like to remind you that although change agents from those in power are important, you do not need a title to contribute to the cause. You hold value too.
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