A message from our CEO:

 

Dear Connor Family,

Considering the events taking place in our country at the moment, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this as it is a subject that is very close to my heart.

The concepts of equality and diversity have been founding principles of our company.  Having grown up during the apartheid days in South Africa, albeit in a sheltered community, the recent acts of racism and violence against minorities and particularly the African American community brings back memories and stories that forever defined my birthplace.  As a company, we stand side-by-side with all our colleagues, clients, friends and community regardless of race, color, religion or creed.

While we witness the looting and rioting that is overshadowing the impact and message of the peaceful protests, it is important that we understand and acknowledge that people, human beings, are fighting against an injustice that has been long ongoing, now exacerbated by recent events involving those who are expected to protect us including police officers and elected politicians across state and federal levels. This comes on top of the fact that the Corona-virus has impacted all communities, with African American & Latino communities disproportionality impacted both from a loss of life and unemployment perspective, more-so than any other community in our country.

I just happened to be having a conversation with my parents this weekend about their lives growing up in the midst of apartheid, under poverty, and without the same basic rights that Whites enjoyed. Hearing the pain in my dad’s voice was a reminder and indicator of what people are feeling today. However, this is 40 years later and in a country, that should be the beacon of democracy, human rights, and freedom. On a personal level, I am still struggling to reconcile this in my own mind.

As we move forward, we will continue to be available to both encourage and support any open conversations about inequality, racism, and injustice in a safe and secure environment. However, we as a company need to do more to effect change:

  • Educate yourself and Listen: Educate yourself on the challenges and fears blacks and people of color experience daily. Understanding how we go here is important in determining how we move forward together.
  • Volunteer: Even while we are under Shelter-in-Place, there are many amazing organizations focused on fighting this injustice and need help.  Please use our volunteer days to help.
  • Donate – to non-profit groups and Connor will match per our philanthropy program. Here is a list of some great organizations – https://civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/civil-rights-organizations
  • Connor in the Community – Since 2014, we have followed the SalesForce model, and donated a percentage of our profits to charities. We will expand those charities to include organizations fighting social injustice.
  • Education – As Nelson Mandela stated – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Going forward, we will begin to donate our used laptops to communities in need and seek to create an additional Injustice Fund to support schooling or higher education initiatives for disadvantaged black communities.
  • Vote – We can create a brighter future for everyone by voting. As a standard policy going forward, in any country, like the US, where our employees or team members reside, we will provide paid time off to vote if voting days are not designated holidays.
  • We will implement a Diversity Hire Program – Actions begin at home. We recognize that we need to do better as well. We will form a Diversity Hire Program and partner with Historical Black Colleges to identify candidates for our internship and full time hire programs.

 

Current circumstances aside, I do look forward with hope. I reflect on the US I moved to on Christmas Eve of 2000, and still recall the kind, warm hearted, honest folks of all backgrounds and color who made up my new home. I was lucky to cast my first ever vote at the age of 18 and watch Nelson Mandela lead South Africa from apartheid to the Rainbow nation, vote for Obama after becoming a US citizen, and build a company surrounded by amazing, diverse people around the world.  I hope we all embrace our differences, finding the beauty and richness this diversity brings to our lives – in our thinking, approaches, the food we love, and the cultures we love to experience,.  Without diversity, the world would be pretty ordinary – let’s live for the extra ordinary.

 

“We were expected to destroy one another and ourselves collectively in the worst racial conflagration. Instead, we as a people chose the path of negotiation, compromise and peaceful settlement. Instead of hatred and revenge we chose reconciliation and nation-building”  – Nelson Mandela