It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2021. As I sit here reflecting on the legacy of Dr. King, it occurs to me that this is a markedly different MLK Day.
The emotion is deeper today, there is more gravitas than in years prior. After a tumultuous 2020 that saw racial awareness brought to the forefront of our society through nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations and many other acts of social justice, this third Monday in January takes on a newfound, evolved tone.
Dr. King has always been an inspirational figure to me. It’s hard to hear his words and not be uplifted, filled with hope for the future and better relations between mankind.
It’s hard to NOT be moved by his speech, but it’s a whole other thing to be moved to action. And let’s face it – when you have a life and responsibilities, particularly in the business world, it can take tremendous effort to reach above the day-to-day grind and do something larger.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That’s one of Dr. King’s most famous, well-known quotes. I believe that. I have always believed that. Perhaps one of the reasons I appreciate the culture we have here at A-LIGN is the echo of that quote in our own core value, “Do the right thing, always.” It’s comforting to work for a company that shares your values. It’s even more comforting and inspiring to see those values put in action.
After the terrible tragedy of George Floyd in May 2020, I was moved. I wanted to start a diversity program here at A-LIGN, as I wasn’t the only one here looking for ways to make a difference. The idea wasn’t new – we had tried to launch a similar program a couple of years ago but despite the best of intentions and through the fault of no one here, other priorities took precedence at the time and the program never got off the ground.
The situation was different in 2020. It mattered more. And that’s when I fully understood how important it is to “Do the right thing, always” here at A-LIGN.
I approached our Chief Executive Officer, Scott Price, and the Executive Team here about giving the diversity program idea another go, and this time was met with full support. Scott embraced the idea with as much passion as I did, and together we launched A-LIGN’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Network. The mission of the DE&I network is to empower, educate, and elevate.
“A-LIGN is a company that welcomes diversity, equity and inclusion, and the innovation it brings to the workplace. Together, we will empower individuals and collectives, educate our communities, and elevate our understanding to be inclusive of all cultures and identities.” A-LIGN’s DE&I Mission Statement
Since launching this program, we’ve developed a deeper relationship with the National Association of Black Compliance & Risk Management Professionals (NABCRMP), provided a forum for communicating about diversity within the company as well as externally, and connected with other organizations in our community who are driving similar initiatives.
And that’s not the end. A-LIGN has truly taken our DE&I program to heart, from the top of the organization on down. While it seems easy for a company to “check the box” when it comes to diversity awareness, that’s not the case here. A-LIGN did the right thing, and that’s allowing us as CLIMBERS to continue to do the right thing here and throughout the community. It gives me a sense when I wake up in the morning that I’m working at the right company.
Martin Luther King, Jr. stands for hope, and after such a difficult year that’s a message that should resonate with all of us. Let’s all carry that message forward into 2021 and beyond, support each other, and do the right thing, always.