Over the past several days, the world has been gripped by recent developments in the US, and by the global conversation about race and racism that has followed. What’s happened has attacked at the very core of who we are as human beings and what we stand for. During this period, I know what I have felt – a strong sense of injustice, anger and a range of other emotions that are difficult to capture. I most certainly reacted as an individual who has gone through the ups and downs of life, in the shadow of some of these issues.
While I reacted as an individual, I also reacted as the leader of an organization that is firmly committed to inclusion, equality and fairness. And given who we are as an organization, at a time like this I felt strongly that it was important for us to come together internally and engage in conversations around this and other similarly big issues, because these issues matter and these are significant learning moments for all of us. I also care deeply about what my colleagues may have been feeling, especially at a time when we are working remotely and are isolated in many ways.
The subsequent conversation was nothing short of powerful. I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues from across the world – for coming together, for sharing (and hearing) uncomfortable stories from their own lived experiences; and for reflecting on how we as individuals, and as an organization, can take action, educate ourselves and stand up to prejudice in all its forms. I know the conversation from today has intensified all our resolve to use the power of ‘Common Purpose’ to make a bigger impact on individuals and society. We ourselves must continually learn, acknowledging the mistakes we make along the way. Given what our purpose is, we have no excuse not to up our game and do more.
Common Purpose’s opposition to racism is at the core of our organization, expressed in our charter. Nevertheless, times like these remind us that it is not enough to say it; it is something we must live, each day, in our behaviours. So to all of you reading this – Common Purpose colleagues, trustees, alumni and supporters – I want to reiterate our commitment to standing up against racism, our solidarity with those who have been affected by it, and our ambition, through our work, to help create a more inclusive society.