Acknowledging the reality and the pain of continued systemic racism

Acknowledging the reality and the pain of continued systemic racism

Thursday, June 4, 2020

By: Jay Forbes, President & CEO

Jay Forbes, Element President & CEO, shared this message with our people on June 4, 2020. Please read for the full message.


It has been an emotional week, revealing once again the painful and systemic racism that continues to exist in our society. It impacts us all. We must acknowledge it exists. We must start the difficult conversations required to combat it.

Element's African American Forum met yesterday for a discussion to start processing events this week. Some of our Black colleagues told stories of their own experiences with racism and the fears they harbored for their children.

I share this because it's important for each and every one of us to acknowledge the reality of what our Black co-workers live with, just as it is important to acknowledge the expressions of pain by Black people in our communities at the racism and injustice they endure.

I share this because, if we do not acknowledge this reality faced by our colleagues, friends and neighbors, how can we learn from it and do better?

Within the broader society, doing better will only come about by holding our leaders accountable and exercising our democratic rights.

Within Element, it is about leading by example. Our shared goal must be an organization wherein mutual respect and mutual trust are absolute, and a company where all employees have an equal opportunity to thrive, regardless of the color of their skin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. To be very clear, I will not accept colleagues whose actions are not consistent with that goal. Neither should you.

While I believe that Element has been sincere in its attempts to create that environment, I also believe that we - as the events of this week pointedly remind us - must do better in this regard.

And that process needs to start today by acknowledging that there is much to learn. Importantly, we will begin with listening; our executive team will start work immediately to get more perspectives and to understand how we can be supportive. This process will move beyond talk and form the basis for a real inquiry into our current state which will, in turn, serve as the basis for a Diversity and Inclusion strategy designed by us - for us.

With your help, we will map out a way to make Element more diverse and inclusive and, in doing so, we can do our part to help foster much-needed change in the broader society.

Stay well,


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