In a recent meeting, Randall Stephenson, Chief Executive of AT&T Inc., delivered a speech to his employees and it was lot more than a usual pep talk. Stephenson, an Oklahoma native, talked about the racial tensions within the country and on how they are ripping apart American communities.
He said that the recent shootings of police officers and black men were “troubling” and advised his AT&T employees to discuss and resolve the issues, if there are any racial tensions among co-workers. The crowd cheered and applauded him when he said, “Our communities are being destroyed by racial tension and we are too polite to talk about it.”
“It is a difficult, tough issue. It’s not pleasant to discuss. It takes work, it takes time, it takes emotion. But we have to start communicating and if this is a dialogue that is going to begin at AT&T, I felt like it probably ought to start with me,” Stephenson added.
A few months ago, police offers had killed more than a few black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. This event consequently resulted in the shooting and killing of five police officers. This incident happened a few blocks away from the Dallas headquarters of AT&T. Moreover, a report from AT&T indicated that approximately 43 percent of their total employees were African-American.
AT&T has weighed in on political controversies on a few many instances. AT&T harshly criticized the Russian antigay law back in 2014, before the start of Sochi Winter Olympics. Moreover, AT&T had also banned discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation in the year 1975.
Stephenson went on to say the story of an African-American veteran and physician, whom he referred to as one of “his closest friends in the world.” He mentioned that he was not aware of the racism his friend had to face while growing up in Louisiana and all through his life.
“If two very close friends of different races don’t talk openly about this issue that is tearing our communities apart, how do we expect to find common ground and solutions for what’s a really serious, serious problem?” Stephenson said. He also added that now he is able to understand his friend’s anger when someone responds “All lives matter” to a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest.
“When the president says, ‘God bless America,’ we don’t say, ‘Shouldn’t God bless all countries? When a person struggling with what’s been broadcast on our airwaves says, ‘Black lives matter,’ we should not say, ‘All lives matter,’ to justify ignoring the real need for change,” Stephenson said.