One Year Later: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

One year ago, the murder of George Floyd set into motion a series of events that would change the lives of countless people. In the following days, as people grappled with the tragedy and protested, it was George Floyd’s six-year-old daughter — sitting on the shoulders of a family friend and former NBA player — who summed up the situation in a most unexpectedly poignant way.

“Daddy changed the world,” she announced happily.

It was an unexpected and bracing statement from a child who had just lost her father, but it was also one many around the globe took to heart. I first felt it when I saw a message from my employer on social media. It was only eight words long, bold white text on a black background. It read, “Genesys stands in solidarity with the Black community.”

That gesture genuinely moved me. The formal acknowledgement of Black pain at that moment was something that I had never experienced as a professional. And I was as proud of the statement as I was surprised by it. In that moment, it struck me as being as much of a call to action as it was an acknowledgement of my rage and pain. It was an invitation. It was an opening.

Shortly after, I had the opportunity to help others see the pain through my eyes as a speaker in a company-wide panel discussion moderated by our CEO. I recounted a story about letting my son borrow a vintage convertible of mine and the fear that I felt when he drove away. I told them what it felt like to be a Black father who knew letting his son experience this particular pleasure of youth could also put him at deadly risk if he wasn’t looked at as who he really was. I told them how he, like myself, on any given day, can far too easily become the next George Floyd.

Within days, I would be presented the opportunity to become the first Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Genesys. As the call to action grew louder, I took a deep breath and changed my 25-plus-year career overnight. This was a tremendous window of opportunity to drive change.

Genesys was already working to build a better, more equitable and diverse organization. But with the commitment to establishing an office focused on these initiatives, we’ve been able to accelerate them. Our first step as a formal DE&I team was to shift the company’s trajectory by making an intentional decision to start our journey with inclusion. This began with company-wide conversations to help employees from traditionally marginalized groups feel seen and heard in the workplace. And it continues in the dismantling of systems as we build them back on foundations of equity and fairness — to remove any barriers that could work against underrepresented groups

A Year in Review

Over the last 12 months, we’ve worked to progress an agile-focused set of efforts to build a sustainable and successful DEI practice at Genesys based on three pillars: workforce, workplace and society. These pillars are keys to creating a balanced focus on addressing inequities in and outside of Genesys. I’m encouraged by what we have already accomplished in a relatively short period of time, including:

  • Creating more opportunities for our employees to connect and share through four new inclusion groups
  • Hosting specialized training sessions for inclusive leading and exploring the neuroscience of bias
  • Developing robust advisory councils, regionally and globally, to meet the DEI needs of a global enterprise
  • Celebrated our differences and brought light to the unique perspectives of our diverse culture, including moments like: National Coming Out Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, Diwali, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Established a baseline of data to measure our progress and adjust accordingly to ensure momentum as we move toward our goals

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

When I think about our culture at Genesys and how, collectively, we continue to work on building a better, more just organization, where every voice is heard, valued, remembered and understood, I can’t help but think about our Black employee resource group’s motto: “Can’t stop, won’t stop.” It’s the signature sign off to events and communications — and it has a particular resonance.

We’re beginning the second year of this journey as committed — if not more — than we were at the start. Earlier this month, we signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, joining a growing list of leaders committed to acting on creating more inclusive workplaces. In the end, it will be our actions, not our words, that will make the difference. I challenge you to think about what actions you can take to help drive the change Mr. Floyd’s daughter so gleefully professed.