When I first started WITI 30 years ago, I knew how important it was to create a welcoming, supportive environment at every WITI event - where every person who walked into a WITi event felt equally welcomed, valued and respected, without regard to their title, their dress, their age, gender, ethnic background, the color of their skin.
I knew from my own experience of working with client companies in the aerospace and technology industries the challenge women faced walking into work every day - into a culture where smart, talented, well educated women every day had to mentally prepare for battle to stay motivated and loyal - to brush off insulting comments, dismissive attitudes, lost opportunities before they walked into work.
One big exception was Hewlett Packard Laboratories. HP Labs was an oasis among the many companies I visited. I was struck by the fact that one of the first steps they took in evaluating a new product would be to pull together a very diverse team of people - engineers, scientists, teachers, men, women, people from different cultures, to look at this product with a variety of different minds, experiences and backgrounds. The leaders of HP Labs in the eighties understood that true innovation came through diversity - and those breakthroughs could not be achieved by creating teams of people who looked alike, thought alike, responded alike. This became a model for me when I worked on designing WITI.
Today, I wake up to a daily assault on the values we stand for. Americans told to go back to their country because their skin color happens to be darker and their ideas different.
Now, right before our eyes - we are see children being torn away from families - immigrant families like ours were - only one or two generations ago. How many of us would be here today if today's leaders were in office when our parents, grandparents escaped untold assaults?
We can no longer remain silent as we see our allies alienated, people disrespected, the daily assault on our principles and democracy. We must take a stand.
I encourage each of you to join me in a boycott of people and companies which fund hate, white nationalist ads, and the politicians which support white nationalists.
#grabyourwallet.org has published one list of companies -so start there, but do your research.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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