The recent and ongoing unconscionable deaths of African-American men and women have once again exposed the reality of racism and racial violence in our country. Though this is something that many of us will never directly experience, racial injustice should matter deeply to us all.
The consequences of discrimination are far-reaching and acutely evident in every aspect of our lives, including and especially in connection with the current coronavirus pandemic. Black people and other communities of color continue to be devastated by disproportionate health impacts of COVID-19, including higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and mortality, as well as significant economic hardship.
This harrowing time in our country is spurring powerful conversations within our company. Since reaching out to the Genentech community at the end of last week on this critical issue, I have received more responses than ever from employees sharing their personal stories, expressing their profound hurt and anger, and voicing their desire to help drive change.
Our company’s efforts to advance social equity have been centered on our people, patients, and communities. We’ve worked hard to foster belonging for our employees, tackle racial disparities in clinical research, and forge partnerships in order to help spur societal transformation in the community. But it is painfully clear that we must do better as an organization, as individuals, and as a nation. Together we must acknowledge what’s happening, speak up in allyship, and take action against this destructive force in our society.
For us, that means pushing harder to address the impacts of structural racism within our health care system. It means using our power, privilege, and resources to advocate for equity and justice. And it means continually engaging in open dialogue within and beyond our walls to listen and learn so that we might find new opportunities to expand our impact.
With the support of my colleagues across Genentech and the guidance and leadership of our Chief Diversity Officer, Quita Highsmith, I pledge to increase our efforts through concrete actions that push this crucial work forward. We don’t presume to have all the answers. But I strongly believe our collective ability to make meaningful progress starts with a deeper commitment from each of us and it starts now.