Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words still ring true today.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
It’s been over fifty years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these famous words, yet we still have a long way to go. Time heals all wounds, so the saying goes, however some wounds require much more than time to heal. Social injustices of any kind are an example. Social injustice is the practice of unjust actions toward others. One such example is discrimination.
Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In said, “Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.” I applaud and I am proud of the actions that Nationwide is taking to address racial injustice in our country. Actions that include but are not limited to publicly denouncing racism and committing an additional $1 million to social justice organizations. Another action included the creation of FARE (Financial Alliance for Racial Equity) to address diversity, equity and inclusion within the financial services industry.
In order for significant change to happen, it will take more Fortune 100 leaders like Kirt Walker, Nationwide Chief Executive Officer to take a stand for what is right.
I believe that we are all leaders and as leaders, we can all do something. As financial professionals, how will you use your voice for good? A recent McKinsey report addressed the disparity of wealth between black and white families. The article examined deep-seated forces in place that account for inequality and social injustice within the black community. Some reasons for the disparity include the uneven access to equity capital, credit and liquid savings.1 As a financial professional, how can you use your expertise and knowledge to help close this wealth gap? Who can you mentor that looks different from you? Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher and writer said, “if you want to awaken all of humanity, awaken all of yourself.” I believe the United States and its people are at a crossroads. This is our watershed moment. Now, more than any other time in our history, everyone can let their voice be heard by committing to:
- Building relationships with trust and respect
- Showing empathy to those who are different from you
- Listening with your ears and your heart
- Asking questions to clarify
- Letting your curiosity direct your questions
- Seeking first to understand, then to be understood
- Embracing diversity by learning from the ideas and thoughts others bring
Speaking up for what is right becomes much easier when one thinks differently. And thinking differently begins by developing an outward mindset. An outward mindset focuses on the collective needs and benefits of others. Those who possess an outward mindset display a pattern of behavior consisting of three things. They tend to:
- Be aware of the challenges of others
- Alter their actions to better assist others
- Assess what is and isn’t working and make appropriate changes 2
Tennis great Arthur Ashe said it best, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
Over the next 30 days, I encourage you to use your voice for good. Do not let it be diminished by fear, uncertainty, or because it is uncomfortable. A good starting point is to first challenge your own thinking by asking yourself, what do I think I know, and how do I know it to be true?