George Floyd + Human Rights + Justice for All
This week has been a very difficult week for me as it has for many of you. I ask myself why, in the year 2020, we continue to see systemic inequality, inequity, and racism in our country. The unconscionable death of George Floyd in Minnesota, and the appalling shootings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky show us all that there is much progress to be made.
The importance of equality and justice was declared 2,500 years ago by Persian King Cyrus the Great, which historians believe inspired Thomas Jefferson to write the United States’ Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 stating: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness.”
Human rights, equality, and justice for all begins with actions from each and every one of us. It begins with the conversations in our homes at our dinner tables and with our public outrage to the unacceptable treatment of the Black community and other marginalized communities. We must recognize our personal biases to become aware of our responsibility to create a better world for every citizen even in our day-to-day lives. We must educate ourselves and our peers on the systemic inequities and oppression of these marginalized communities that exist at all levels of our society.
At SEPI we were founded upon and are committed to the true meaning of diversity and inclusion, but there is actionable work to do. We will lean into our values: Be Open, Be Positive, Be Courageous and Pursue Excellence. These values are important not only in how we perform our projects and pursue new work, but important in how we interact with our coworkers, peers, and in our personal lives.
Our HR Team has been tasked with exploring and advancing ideas on how we, as a firm, can create more awareness for each employee and how we can do a better job in improving our interconnections inside our culture and within our community. We currently have a Diversity Committee at SEPI that has assisted with evaluating our current policies, practices, culture, and activities to develop recommendations to improve our attraction and retention of diverse employees and further promote a welcoming culture of respect and curiosity. Learn more about that committee and their efforts here.
I have always believed a business cannot thrive in a community that is not thriving. Likewise, no community can thrive if a part of the community is suffering due to racism and injustice. I would like to conclude with the following quote from one of my personal heroes, Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in 1946:
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”
As ONE community, ONE company, and ONE family, we take it upon ourselves to advocate for human rights for all members of our society and do what we can to create a better world.
-Sepi Saidi | President + CEO of SEPI, Inc.