The senseless death of George Floyd reminds us to reflect, recognize our biases and vow to do better.
As this week draws to a close, I want to first thank you for your continued focus on serving our clients and advancing our strategic transformation as the world presents many challenges. I also want to provide my thoughts on the recent, painful events in our own backyard and across the country that call on us all to take a hard look at the systemic bias that disproportionately affects people of color in our community.
I share in the community outrage and disbelief over the circumstances related to the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Monday evening. I am deeply appalled by the actions captured on video of police officers unnecessarily exerting extreme force on Mr. Floyd while he struggled for breath and eventually died.
This horrifying death where so many of the Thrivent family live and work is a reminder that this violent and weaponized racism is rampant and senseless across our country. The targeted murder of jogger Ahmaud Aubrey in Georgia. The confrontation between a white dog walker and a black bird watcher in New York City. Every time we see this kind of tragedy it can be hard not to feel emotional, not just for the human being affected or their family, or the colleagues we know, but for all people who could be — and have been — victims of overt and dangerous racism.
I write about this to you not because I face these situations firsthand. I write to you today to urge us to pause to re-examine our own attitudes and behaviors; to recognize our own biases; and to do our parts to make ourselves better. To make our communities and country better. And to continue making Thrivent better. We are on our own diversity and inclusion journey here at Thrivent, with each experience along the way providing valuable learnings. Learnings about the importance of recruiting, retaining and promoting diverse candidates while also supporting their families and the communities in which they live.
As an organization with a long tradition of serving Christians, Thrivent extends our sincere condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd and the larger communities who have suffered these losses for far too long. But prayers and condolences are not enough. All of us – regardless of race, faith, political ideology, culture or other beliefs – must step back and seriously reflect on these tragedies and the underlying causes. We need to reflect and then be willing to act and make real changes so that the tragedies do not keep happening.
We all process things and grow differently. Conversations are essential, and I share my thoughts with you today to prompt these conversations. Talk with your families, friends and colleagues. We are scheduling virtual Listening Circles beginning next week for our workforce to openly discuss these issues. We are committed to creating spaces for our workforce to have honest conversations with one another, so we can learn and grow together.
Meanwhile, the community at large is processing all this very openly in the streets of Minneapolis. I’m thankful to report our offices were spared any direct exposure to last night’s violence. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, as the safety and security of our people will always be our top priority.
Thrivent is committed to providing a safe environment for its workforce, where everyone feels valued and included. Let’s keep the dialogue going; if you have ideas on how we can improve in this crucial area, speak up. We are an organization whose core values include doing what is right and helping all of humanity. Thrivent calls for and is committed to providing healing, positive action, hope and reconciliation among all people throughout this community and beyond so we all can thrive with lives of safety, meaning and gratitude.
During the past several weeks of this pandemic, I have seen all of us at Thrivent come together as truly One Thrivent, supporting one another and caring about one another. Now we must continue to care and support one another as we confront our feelings about the tragic death of Mr. Floyd.
President and CEO