As I began reflecting on this year’s MLK Day, I considered writing about Dr. King’s inspirational “I Have A Dream” speech and his work to advance civil rights and equal opportunity for all. While those themes remain important, the aftermath of a tumultuous year, punctuated by record COVID cases and an historic riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, led me to other expressions of hope from Dr. King that can light a path for us all. Even more so today, Dr. King’s vision both challenges us and inspires us to find strength in our differences and embrace diverse points of view. As Dr. King said during a speech in 1965, “We must all learn to live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools.”
Moving forward together
With 2020 behind us, the team at Conduent looks forward to 2021 as an opportunity to build a more diverse, open and inclusive environment for all of our associates — and for the clients and end users who rely on us to bring our best every day. This is not an optional “nice to have;” it is imperative.
In June 2020, I wrote to our associates that we must “shine light into darkness…share our truth… and bring our best.” While as a country we may have a long way to go, as a Conduent team we have become stronger and more resilient. We have provided light through the dark by supporting each other through the pandemic, delivering essential services to our clients and the millions of their customers who rely on us, and advancing a more inclusive culture overall. We’ve sought to respond to Dr. King’s challenge that, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
With leadership and teamwork as bedrocks of our core values, we can celebrate the time-honored legacy of Dr. King through actions both big and small that encourage us to listen with empathy, learn with openness, lead inclusively, and serve each other honorably.
“Everybody can be great … because everybody can serve.”
Consider these four actions:
- Listen with empathy – Listen to understand, take a walk in another person’s shoes, and be kind. Show genuine interest in the plight of others. Have conversations with civility.
- Learn with openness – Embrace differences that inform our experiences and make us better as a team. Engage others with respect and seek to overcome the unconscious biases that we all have. Make a virtual visit to a museum like the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.
- Lead inclusively with positive intent – Give other people the benefit of the doubt, while contributing your best and expecting the same from others. Include others and create safe spaces for authenticity. Encourage a sense of belonging in others.
- Serve others honorably – Even small steps make a difference, giving your time and talent is just as important. Consider a virtual day of service, help your neighbors with a small chore, tutor children online, give to a food drive, or donate to a charity that means something to you. Be the Difference.
In closing, I go back to Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. The hope embedded in those words is just as meaningful today. As Dr. King said, “Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I have a dream…that one day this nation will rise up and live out its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
All quotes from: “Quotations of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (2004), or Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech.