I found this great speech today. It’s Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, talking to his Employee Resource Groups (if you’re not familiar with corporate-speak, that means the diverse folks—people of color, LGBT folks, veterans, etc.). He addresses head-on the challenge of racism in our society. And the fact that we white folks have Absolutely No Idea what it means to live as a person of color in this country.
So many business leaders—heck, so many people of all kinds—struggle to talk about this issue. The violence that seems new to the white community, or unprecedented in its scope, is really just newly revealed thanks to the ubiquity of social media. You just can’t beat up people in private anymore. Thank God.
But we need more than just grainy videos of unwarranted attacks to stop this epidemic. We need people—especially privileged white people who wield the leverage of a large corporation—to speak out. Enter, very powerfully, Randall Stephenson.
What makes this a great speech?
I’ll leave a fuller discussion of this speech for another day. I’m all dressed up to go to a client event right now and if I think about this remarkable speech much longer, I’ll completely ruin my makeup.
The really powerful part—the clip that’s been making the rounds of the Internet—starts at 8:36. But it’s worth listening to the speech in its entirety. (And I’m very sorry that the YouTube link won’t let me embed the video here.)
It’s got all the elements of a great speech, the things I always talk about. Watch them in action and notice how they pull you into the story, how you feel hearing them:
- a personal story
- a journey to greater understanding
- a call to action
Have I mentioned it’s a great speech? I surely wish I’d written it myself. (And I don’t say that about many speeches these days.) Congratulations to AT&T, its CEO Randall Stephenson, and his speechwriter, if any.
Spread the word about this one, folks. If more people started thinking and talking this way, our country would be a better (and less scary) place.
(You can read some things I have written about diversity and inclusion here.)