Reflections from Our CEO (2020)
June 3, 2020
I wanted to share a bit about how we at The Management Center are responding to this time. I hesitated to write this—particularly as a white CEO—out of fear that this message is “us-centric” at a time that is not about The Management Center. That is why we are pairing this note with a set of ideas and resources that we hope help you navigate your own work toward justice at this time.
To start, a note to our Black clients, colleagues, friends, and family, from all of us at The Management Center: we see you, we support you, and we stand in solidarity. The anti-Black racism on display so painfully and vividly over the past several weeks—not only in Minneapolis and the murder of George Floyd, not just in Central Park, not just emanating daily from the White House, and not only in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Dreasjon Reed, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and far too many others—is neither new nor transitory. It has been endemic here for 400 years.
As for us, this time marks another step in our journey toward racial equity. As a white-founded and for too long predominantly white organization, over the past five-plus years we have been working to prioritize racial equity more in everything we do, thanks in large part to the labor of Black, indigenous, and other people of color on our team. That journey has led us to evolve in what we teach and how we teach it, who we serve, and how we operate internally. Our journey hasn’t been perfect or easy, and we know we have more to do and that this moment calls us to do it.
What does that mean for our work? We believe that, done right, management can be a force for good—in helping people working for social justice achieve their aims in the world and in doing so in a way that engages talents and energies within organizations. But we know that management is not necessarily good in and of itself—management can and has been used as a tool of oppression, from the times of slavery forward. And because racism is in the air we breathe and the water we drink, it pervades organizations, including ours and others fighting for social justice. When management is applied without attention to racism and other impacts, then, it can and does result in deep inequities within organizations.
That inequity in organizations can manifest in so many ways. Among other things, it can look like primarily white organizations with revolving doors for staff of color. It can look like the daily demoralization of staff members of color—and particularly Black staff—being overlooked, undervalued, and tokenized. In organizations of all types, it can look like subtle favoritism for staff members who better “fit” with white dominant culture. And it can look, as it did in our case, like an organization that for too long had only white staff in our most senior roles.
We know from our experience that neither we nor our clients will achieve our aims unless we manage equitably, and unless we manage ourselves in ways that combat our society’s pervasive racism and white supremacy. That is why, internally and in our work with clients, we will seek to identify and put into practice effective, equitable management practices. It is why we will strive to ask ourselves hard questions about how management can contribute to racism, and address those impacts where we see them. It is why we will commit ourselves to learning as we go, recognizing that we have a lot of ways to grow.
It is why, if you choose to work with us, we will ask you hard questions as well.
And it is why we will strive to be an anti-racist organization, and to better define and live up to the label.
We recognize that doing this will be a journey, for ourselves and for our clients, and we look forward to growing and learning and fighting alongside you.
CEO and Founder