Published: June 2, 2020

Last week, we all witnessed the killing of another Black American. His life was taken by officers of an institution who had sworn to serve and protect people in our communities. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor were Americans, born with inalienable rights in a country where we pledge ourselves to liberty and justice for all. Now their names have been added to hundreds of others that we have read about, and many more whose names we will never know, due to systemic racism in our justice system. As a White male who has privilege, I can never fully understand. But sadly, I have learned that the personal stories of many Black friends and colleagues only amplifies the reality that for people of color living in America, a morning jog or a walk through the city comes with risk. I have never felt that risk. Like so many others, my own emotions have ranged from anger and disgust to shame and grief that such deep pain and injustice have been inflicted again on Black families and communities.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the veil has been lifted, exposing the implications of inequity in our country. People of color have been impacted by this disease disproportionately. They have suffered significantly higher rates of illness, death and job loss. The chasm that existed before the crisis has widened, further threatening the well-being of millions of underrepresented people.

Our Goodwill colleagues and participants of color are hurting and they are exhausted. I hear you, I care about you and I stand aligned with you to work to undo the devastating effects of racism in our country. At Goodwill, we believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to flourish in life. We commit ourselves every day to helping people reach their full potential through learning and the power of work, and we know that racism is often a barrier to opportunity. However, we must call for a higher level of justice and be an advocate for change. We must also understand how our own organization falls short and commit to driving more diversity on our executive and leadership teams.

We will be taking a number of actions to advance our health as an organization and our impact in our communities.

  • We will expand our efforts throughout the Goodwill community to seek to understand and create bonds together through forums to share, learn and commit to one another.
  • Our executive and leadership teams will continue their own learning journeys to become more effective champions and leaders of reform.
  • We will work with our Diversity and Inclusion Committee to extend available resources and support to Goodwill organizations across our network.
  • Our advocacy efforts will proactively push for public policies that advance equity and inclusion.
  • We will engage organizations that advance justice and combat racism and educate employees about supporting them through financial giving.

I thank all of my Goodwill colleagues for your honesty and openness, for sharing your hearts and for your commitment to help us on this journey.

Steven C. Preston
President and CEO, Goodwill Industries International