Posted: 3 Min Read Diversity & Inclusion

On the First Annual Day of Understanding, Symantec Checks its Blind Spots

Allyship in the workplace starts with checking your blind spots, and learning about perspectives different than your own.

Today, December 7, is the first annual Day of Understanding, a day for CEO Action signatory companies – including Symantec – to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion. Symantec will be participating in the Check Your Blind Spots tour next Wednesday, December 12, on the Mountain View campus. 

Why do we need the Day of Understanding? What spawned this? 

In Dallas, Texas, on September 6 of this year, an unarmed Black man, Botham Jean, was shot and killed in his own home by Amber Guyger, a white off-duty police officer. Guyger mistook Jean's apartment for her own and believed he was an intruder. Botham Jean was an employee of PwC. 

PwC Chairman Tim Ryan knew that he had the responsibility to do something about the senseless killing. But this was no knee-jerk reaction on Ryan's part; he has a strong record of talking about the things that many people – and many large corporations – don't traditionally want to talk about. For example, only days after taking the role of Chairman in July of 2016 two other black men – Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana – were shot by police offers, Ryan began having conversations about race inside PwC. 

In response to the more recent killing of Jean, Ryan sent an email to all employees that said, in part, "Take time to understand the experiences our underrepresented minorities – and especially, in this situation, our black colleagues – experience in everyday life so that we can all be better co-workers, friends, and allies." 

Some people warned him against having conversations about race in the workplace, but Ryan knew it was the right thing to do. And he knew the conversation had to expand beyond the walls of PwC, and thus Jean's killing gave rise to the Day of Understanding. 

Some people warned him against having conversations about race in the workplace, but Ryan knew it was the right thing to do. 

Symantec's CEO, Greg Clark, has signed the CEO Action Pledge to act on supporting inclusion. CEOs who sign the Action Pledge are committed to building productive, diverse, and inclusive workplaces. They are committed to addressing the out-of-work concerns that don't magically disappear when people come to work. They are committed to having difficult conversations about race. They are committed to listening, and learning, and seeking to fully understand and validate the lived experiences of other people. They are committed to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

And it's not just the CEO who needs to be committed to taking action. It's all of us. Every. Single. Person. 

Discrimination and bias and prejudice are happening all the time and people are making important decisions based on those biases and prejudices. Taking action means looking discrimination in the face and doing something to reverse it. It means taking a stand, being courageous, living by principles of equity and compassion. If you are not doing something to stop discrimination, you're complicit. 

Symantec is a global equal opportunity employer, with an anti-discrimination policy. Symantec cares about all of its employees around the world. When events happen outside of Symantec, it affects people inside of Symantec. People like your boss, your colleague, your direct report. . . you!

Taking action means looking discrimination in the face and doing something to reverse it. It means taking a stand, being courageous, living by principles of equity and compassion. 

Events outside of work matter. And they need to be discussed. When, for example, India decriminalized homosexuality earlier this year, it mattered! It mattered in India. It mattered to the LGBTQ community. It mattered to Symantec's Indian employees who are members of the LGBTQ community. And it should matter to all of us, no matter our geographical location, our sexual orientation, our politics. 

Tim Ryan, a white man in a position of power, learned how to talk about race. And we all need to do the same. We need to fight our discomfort, our uncertainties, our fragility, so we can show up and have the difficult conversations that matter. So we can connect across our perceived differences and our shared humanity. So we can understand and validate the lived experiences of other people. 

It all starts with a sincere effort to understand. Will you join us in that effort? 

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The Check Your Blind Spots unconscious bias tour will be visiting over 100 events, campuses, and corporate signatories across the United States in 2019. The tour offers an experience that focuses on blind spots and how this influences decision making.

Follow our blog to learn more about the unique stories, perspectives, and experiences of Symantec employees around the globe.

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About the Author

Jared Karol

Workplace Culture Consultant

Jared's work is at the intersection of storytelling, leadership, and inclusion. He believes that when we lead with curiosity and empathy, we will create innovative cultures of belonging. Learn more at https://www.jaredkarol.com/.

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