Originally posted on AbbVie LinkedIn
By Richard A. Gonzalez Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer at AbbVie
Today, I shared the following message with the 47,000 employees AbbVie has throughout the world. While this issue goes far beyond business, I do believe there is meaningful work that AbbVie – and many other companies in America – can do to help drive real action on the issues of racial equality and social justice.
I am writing you today to express my deep concern about the events we have seen unfold over the past several weeks in America. I’m also writing to you in a call to action to all of us to reflect on how we can improve as a society and AbbVie as a company in how we embrace inclusion and reject racism and bias.
Our nation and the world watched in horror the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. Unfortunately, we have seen this many times before. Not just from some in law enforcement, but others in our society who have hate in their hearts and racism in their lives. Our society has no place for people who feel and act this way.
I ask you, the people of AbbVie, to reject clearly and loudly all forms of racism and injustice wherever and whenever we see or experience them. I know it’s not what AbbVie stands for and I know it’s not what you stand for.
Diverse communities in general, but the Black community more specifically, have lived with the harmful impacts of bias and racism for much too long. Hopefully the events of the last several weeks serve as a real wake-up call to all of us. This has to stop and it has to stop now. It will start with each of us standing up and rejecting bias, racism, and the lack of real inclusion. This will require each of us to reach down inside ourselves and ask, “Do I have bias, conscious or not?” “Can I do more to be inclusive?” “Am I showing up as an ally?” “Can I make my rejection of these behaviors clearer?”
It requires self-reflection, followed by action….real and sustainable action!
We can’t change the world, but we can make AbbVie a role model for fairness, inclusion, and the rejection of bias and racism. This is the time for us to “step up” and say this has to “STOP”!
We have built a wonderful culture at AbbVie. One of which we are very proud. But deep in our hearts, all of us know we can do even more to make AbbVie a leader in equality, diversity and inclusion. We can do more to make sure our culture is inclusive and welcoming for everyone and where all employees have the opportunity to grow and contribute. I made a commitment to our Black Business Network leaders that we will keep the lines of communication open to ensure that we are having an honest conversation about our culture of inclusion and belonging here at AbbVie.
In order to accomplish this objective, my leadership team and I are taking significant actions to ensure that AbbVie leads by example. We are committed to not only being a voice, but also doing the right things to fully embrace equality, diversity and inclusion and loudly reject racism and all forms of bias. We will also use our financial strength to make a positive impact on the diverse communities where we work and live. We will fund nonprofits to promote education, job training, action against injustice and more.
In an effort to drive change, we are announcing a number of actions:
– An immediate donation of $5 million to NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative to address issues in our criminal justice system.
– A commitment of $50 million over five years to partner with nonprofits on a long-term, multi-faceted program that will seek to bring lasting and real change at the community level to help secure quality education, jobs, health care and justice. More details regarding specific programs will be shared in the coming months.
– The creation of two senior level positions that will sit on my leadership team to drive internal and external change:
- Rae Livingston has been named our chief equality officer. Rae is currently a senior leader on our HR team and will help us focus efforts within the Company to increase our understanding and addressing opportunities when it comes to these tough issues of race, equality and diversity.
- Karen Hale, deputy general counsel, will lead the work I referenced earlier to bring lasting and real change at the community level and help secure quality education, jobs, health care and justice. This commitment will take significant research – listening to those in the community who truly understand what the needs are.
– In light of my call to action and recent events, this Friday, June 19, AbbVie will observe Juneteenth to take the time to reflect on the changes that have to occur in our Company, our communities and society as a whole.
– Providing a 2:1 match for employees who wish to support organizations working to help address racial equality and social justice issues.
– Development of a comprehensive plan to accomplish our internal and external objectives to eliminate bias and racism and embrace total inclusion.
I want to make my intentions here absolutely clear this isn’t just a program, this is an absolute commitment that I am making, my leadership team is making and we need all of you to make as well. I know I can count on you to help us make a positive impact.
For more on AbbVie’s support of Racial Equality and Social Justice visit https://www.abbvie.com/our-commitment-to-racial-justice.html