In the 24 hours or so since the reporting of the U.S. President’s remark about immigrants, the reactions have been swift and strong. From the United Nations to leaders around around the world, the reported remarks have been rightly characterized as racist, degrading, reprehensible, among others.
In such a time as this, silence is not an option for those of us who devote our lives to and stake our reputations on the word “ethics.”
If one employee in our company had made comments to another similar to what has been reportedly made by the U.S. President, we as leaders and managers and colleagues would need to address it. If our CEO had made such a statement, we as a company would need to answer for it to our stakeholders. When the highest elected official of our country and in our world makes such a statement, we as voices of ethics must confront it.
Remember Edmond Burke’s famous world: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”
Those words ring even more true for ethics professionals because we make it our business to ask people to speak up and lead by example. It’s time we speak up and lead by example.
What can we do?
Begin by working with your senior leadership team on a clear and immediate message about what race, immigration, and internationalism mean in your company, your workplace.
Reassure your employees in the US and around the world about the kind of company you are and how you value each employee as human beings.
Hold voluntary small group discussions and town hall meetings to hear your employees about how they feel about these issues. Make sure you listen. Commit yourself to responding to their concerns.
That’s where we start. That is how we lead.