As we reflect on the social and political unrest around the world, I am still deeply saddened and angry about the numerous tragic events that led up to this, as I know many of you are. These issues are fueled by historic and systemic racial inequalities that have existed in our country since before its inception. But my feelings pale in comparison to the pain and emotions of our Black colleagues, friends, and neighbors – as they and their families are victims of senseless discrimination and live with anxiety and fear because of the color of their skin. Let me be absolutely clear that we stand in solidarity with our Black employees and people of color everywhere.
Over the last weeks, as I reflected on my own life experiences, I’ve been reminded of all the life lessons I have learned from my teachers, parents, and the elders that surrounded me. One of these many amazing people was my elementary school librarian, Dorothy Vickers-Shelley, who shared with me and my classmates this truth: “Life is short. Therefore, I shall be a crusader in the fight against ignorance and fear. Beginning with myself.” This saying serves as a simple framework for assessing the personal, and professional, choices we make as individuals: When we make a choice in life, is it diminished due to ignorance or fear? What can we do to remove ignorance and/or fear to make a better choice? This mantra guides my decisions each day. I hope others will find similar inspiration.
But what does this mean to us as business people, and more importantly those of us who are entrusted as business leaders?
First, we must sustain the dialogue to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within our companies and beyond – to be part of the solution. Over the last few weeks, I have been grateful for the opportunity to listen and to learn from our Acxiom Black Employee Network; their guidance on how to support our people has been invaluable. I am committed to grow our Business Resource Groups to help guide our Diversity and Inclusion efforts and to ensure we are building a supportive and constantly progressing workplace.
Second, it means committing to diversity – not just a business imperative, but a moral one. We still have work to do to make our company more diverse and reflective of the world around us. I am, and the leadership team at our company are, dedicated to this undertaking and to making our efforts sustainable and transparent. Diversity sparks innovation, and as a company driven by innovation, we are committed to retaining, advancing and recruiting diverse talent across the globe.
Third, these efforts should not stop within the walls of our respective companies, but engage the communities in which we live and work. As a member of the IPG CEO Diversity Council, I will continue to support IPG’s refinement of its existing Diversity, Equality and Inclusion goals both inside and outside our company, and work to ensure Acxiom aligns tightly with them.
I want to thank everyone at Acxiom, and those within my network, for allowing me the time to listen, reflect, and consider actions I can take with my leadership team – both in the short and long-term – that will help us better support each other, our clients, and transform our business.
Chad Engelgau, CEO & President of Acxiom